So, it was a hard day for Julie at work…. her meeting with her boss did not go well, and the project she was working on just did not come together. She did not get lunch till 2:30 and she stuffed it down between meetings and had to leave part of it.
She forgot to take her afternoon snack with her, but chose to go to a 12 Step meeting. The meeting was good but she was hungry.
By the time she got home, it was late, she was exhausted and hungry and too tired to cook, so she ate some leftovers out of the refrigerator and went to bed.
At 3 am she woke ravenously hungry. “Well I missed part of lunch, she told herself, and didn’t have my whole dinner or snack, so I guess I could go down and eat my bedtime snack”.
The bedtime snack was eaten while reading her current novel – a best seller that she was enjoying.
Soon the hunger returned and the munchies started. You know what foods they were, her binge foods, not on her food plan.
She went back to bed stuffed, ashamed and saying rude things to herself.
“I’ll start again in the morning and I will cut down what I eat, and then I will get back on track perfectly”.
Julie woke on time, feeling exhausted and hung over. “Why did I do that?” she asked herself. “Never again!”
I’m going to be good today. I’m just going to have yogurt and fruit for breakfast, skip the other stuff to make up for what I ate last night.”
By lunchtime Julie was ravenous. She went to the cafeteria and got a big salad with protein on it, even used a bit of dressing, but skipped two other foods on her food plan.
By 3 pm, she was falling asleep at her desk. She left work early, had no snack, and on the way home, guess what happened? You already know or can imagine. And this binge was bigger than last night’s binge.
How do we stop this? Where can we intervene?
First, let’s talk about what Julie needs to do now. If she has a safe snack in her desk, she needs to eat it now. When she gets in her car, she needs to call a close friend or trusted adviser or support person and make a plan for an evening without binges.
If she needs to stop to buy food, that person can stay on the phone with her, or Julie can commit to calling her back when she has left the store without any extra purchases. Now when Julie gets home, she needs to clear up the debris left from the binges. Toss it. Put bleach on it. Or put it down the disposal. Pack it up and give it to a neighbor. Or go put it in the middle of your street and applaud when cars run over it.
Whatever. Get it out.
Here’s what else I will tell Julie:
Now get out your food plan. My food plans are calculated and set up in a specific way to reduce cravings. Get the dinner you need, Julie, and eat it all. Now invite a support person to come over for a cup of herbal tea (Stress Ease?) or make yourself stay on the phone with people you trust, or take your journal to your bedroom and write about what’s really bothering you, or do some spiritual reading or step work about this situation.
Or do something that prevents you from eating more – clean the bathroom, take a hot bath, do your nails, clean out that dresser drawer, change your sheets and make the bed, color coordinate your closet, rearrange your jewelry box.
Now do whatever spiritual activity you trust, that calms you. Call a precious friend, meditate, pray, chant, do utterings, whatever works for you. Talk with a support person while you go downstairs to get your bedtime food. Bring it up to your bedroom or eat it downstairs, whichever keeps you from eating anything extra. Taste it. Savor it Enjoy it. Thank your Gods for it.
Now go to bed. If you wake in the night, make a list of the things you’d like your Gods to do for you. And tomorrow, stay on track.
HERE IS THE HARD PART. HOW COULD JULIE HAVE PREVENTED THIS?
There are some simple “rules” that help with this kind of situation.
You eat every three to five hours while awake. No skipping. Change your work schedule. Get a note from your doctor or dietitian asking that you be allowed 30 minutes for lunch, for medical reasons, if your boss is that insistent.
Pay attention to your fluids. Toss the diet soda and any other flavors. Get enough to drink so the body can wash out the toxins.
Create several nonperishable servings of your afternoon food. Put them in your purse, your desk drawer, and in your car. Then they will be available to rescue you.
Eat all your food at meals. If you must, drive to your meeting, sit outside, and have your prescribed food. You will get more out of the meeting that way.
NO SKIPPING MEALS. And no skimping on the food at your meals. If it feels too much, talk to your trusted adviser about it.
Evaluate your recovery program. What needs upgrading? Rest? More time for yourself? Sleep? Exercise? Support? Spirituality? A new job? What else?
This is a situation that happens all too often to recovering people. Please respond and tell me what you think of it. What part did I miss? What else would you need to do? What would give Julie a longer-term solution?
Be welcome to share this with others who need it.
Blessings to you,