My emotional battle with chocolate

If you’ve ever spent 10 minutes with me, you’ll know I eat an epic amount of chocolate. If you’ve not witnessed me stuffing my face, you might be questioning whether I’m exaggerating. I introduce to you, a typical days worth of chocolate for me:

  • 5 pack of single Twirls
  • 4 Milky bars or Milky button bags
  • 2 packs of Freddo faces
  • A whole pack of Chocolate Caramel Digestives

I’m reading that back thinking, “ah that’s not that bad!” – but in fact I know that’s pretty alarming. What I actually mean is “I’ve done a lot worse”. And I’ll remind you that this is a typical day’s worth…every day.

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I’ve tried going cold turkey several times before, and the reaction has been pretty intense. Anxiety, poor concentration, anger, frustration, upset. Pretty much all I could think about was the fact I wasn’t eating chocolate. I’m not sure anyone can break a habit of a lifetime feeling like that.

Enter magic Marge and her wisdom!

So I tell Marge just how much chocolate I eat, but also how and when I’d eat it, and my thoughts or feelings at the time:

  • I eat it when I’m hungry, tired, bored, upset, anxious, stressed
  • I feel driven to go and get it, very much so like an addiction out of my control
  • I eat it when I know I’m not even going to enjoy the taste all that much, and I continue eating it when I recognise I’m not enjoying it
  • I’m usually subconsciously thinking about where and when I can get some more, and tailor my journeys to fit a chocolate purchase in
  • I eat chocolate instead of eating proper meals
  • I’ll buy as much as I think I can eat plus a bit more, so that I know there will be some left over
  • I’ll buy even more if I think I have to share!
  • I don’t enjoy things as much if I haven’t got chocolate too

Marge: “Ooh, you eat it for everything”

Me: *stunned face*

(It sounded fair, but I could see Marge was connecting dots that I wasn’t. I’m finding this intriguing and frustrating!)

My homework – list everything I could think of that I enjoyed doing, big or small, and see if I can start doing them. You’re on Marge! I love a good list, I love learning and I always loved homework #dontjudgeme

As soon as I get home I start writing that list, but most of it wasn’t so achievable with my two tiny people. That’s when the idea of the blog came up. I love sharing when I’ve learnt something new about myself. Especially if I think that people will understand me better, or if it will help them too. And a blog was doable with the boys.

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Then came my first eureka moment….whilst working on the blog one day, I felt hungry, I’d not eaten breakfast. My default thought was to eat the chocolate I had in the fridge. But now that I’ve become really self aware on this topic, I decided to think it through:

Oh why do I want chocolate, am I actually hungry?
Yes I am hungry, ok, do I actually want to eat chocolate though, do I fancy it?
No not really, I absolutely could eat it and I’d sort of enjoy it but I don’t specifically want chocolate, I’m just hungry and getting anxious about choosing and preparing a ‘proper’ snack so chocolate was easier
Oh look, a banana, I quite fancy that and its healthier
*happily eats banana*

Just a week ago, that wouldn’t have happened, because I’d have been forcing myself to choose the banana because it was healthier. This time was different because I realised that whilst I was happy and content writing my blog, chocolate almost had no hold over me. So it hits me:

I don’t need chocolate WHEN I’m happy, I eat chocolate to MAKE me happy.

Every, damn, time!

light-bulb-moment3

In the last week, every time I’ve wanted chocolate, I’ve checked to see how I’m feeling and whether there is an emotional trigger at play. Quite often its not immediately obvious, so it would be easy for me to miss it, but I really make myself stop and think. As a result, I’d guess at my chocolate intake being around 80% less this week. I’ve either had just one bar of chocolate in a day, or some days I haven’t had it at all. And I kid you not, I have been fine. No crazy withdrawal symptoms, I haven’t been dwelling on it and freaking out. It’s barely even a thing.

However I have noticed that when I have had chocolate, the urgency of the physical addiction seems to kick in, and I feel a lot less in control. I’m hoping I’ll have a follow up post for that side of it. But for now, I’m super happy with an 80% reduction, and feeling back in charge.

What I’ve learnt

  1. Being self aware, and willing to work through my emotions, is why I’m succeeding
  2. Chocolate has always been a temporary fix, thats not good enough anymore, I want permanent solutions
  3. I can’t battle the physical addiction to chocolate, if I don’t address the emotional triggers that lead me there

I see now that I’ve used several different crutches to avoid having to deal with negative emotions. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Talking a bucket load is another one (different post). But they just make me worse. It keeps me in a loop of negative emotions…it’s like I start the journey of dealing with something negative, then hit the reset button with a crutch. It doesn’t go away, so I have to eat again or talk again. Aha – it’s another version of living in the middle!

Living in the middle sucks, and so I’m glad I’ve rooted out another thing that’s been keeping me there.

In your face chocolate.

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