Choose Your Battles, Your Comforts

I’ve had a terrible month. We all have months that gob-smack us in the ear and laugh at us as we clutch our heads, wondering why no one stopped it and why no one is doing anything to make you feel better. We are all toddlers wanting comfort, every one of us. It’s ok.

People take comfort in many ways and work through their physical or emotional issues differently. Some take comfort in food. Depending on the kind of food, the health of the individual, that person’s habits, and how they work through whatever they’re going through, using food as a cushion can be a bad idea.

I’ve tried to insulate myself from this by making better choices at the grocery and restaurants, and by reminding myself of how hard I worked to achieve my progress. I also tell family and good friends around me about my eating lifestyle so that they can act as dietary support system, even if I’m just using guilt from their entirely imagined disapproval to make myself accountable.

Sometimes, that’s worked out great: picking up bags of produce instead of chips, ordering grilled fish and side dishes of veggies, not touching the rice that came with my order. Maybe I’ll just scavenge the contents of the pantry for dinner, but if it’s a healthful fruit/seed trail mix and low sodium green beans cold from the can, or a half pound of cherries and a cup of coffee, that’s ok; they’re within my dietary guidelines, and I’m getting calories. Weird calories, but whatever.

Sometimes, I made poor choices: taking home a pint of low sugar ice cream and having it for a meal, opting for a cheeseburger on the bun and fries instead of the grilled chicken salad, eating bread and dessert and all of the cookies on a hard day. Especially when a kind person brings warm chocolate oatmeal cookies to comfort others.

And other times, my choices have backfired, or timing is bad: finding that the produce is spoiling (there’s a drought affecting the food supply chain in the U.S. this summer) only after I get it home; I find that the airport food place closest to my gate 15 minutes before boarding is only serving carb-y breakfast.

Guilt is a powerful motivator, but it can’t rule my life, and I have to learn to eat with moderation whether I’m happy, sad, stressed, or angry for weeks or months on end. As of this morning, I am still sitting at the target weight that my primary doctor set for me. I’m still mending from last month’s health problem, which my doctors are fairly certain now was torn abdominal scar tissue from my gallbladder surgery with a side effect of IBS, but I’m almost back to normal. And I’m still not as compelled to eat as I once was.

My take on my shopping and eating habits lately is that if I’m going to eat ridiculous meals, I’m going to make the best choices that I can – but I can’t beat myself up too badly if I have some short-term bad habits, as long as I go back to my new good habits that have served me so well. I can and must find other ways of dealing with life’s drama besides food. But I’m not going to hate myself if I’m not perfect. That’s no way to live, and in the end, that will not make me any happier or improve any of the other areas of my life that are imperfect.

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