Shh! It’s my Secret Weapon…

21 Feb

I have a highly sophisticated, ultra-powerful, mind-blowing weapon on my hands. It is smart, stealthy, and incredibly efficient. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, just like with any other weapon, when the enemy finds out the secret and begins using it, I sometimes wish it wasn’t so cunning.

Yes, I’m talking about my brain. But when my eating disorder hijacks my mind, it fires a stream of bullets straight at my self-esteem, especially during meal-time. My mind craves activity and is highly stimulated by the controversial act of eating. Although I’ve tried in the past, when I’m eating alone(which is most of my meals), my mind cannot be satisfied with just focusing on the textures, tastes, etc. that many mindful eating experts suggest. It screams that it NEEDS something else to do. When I don’t give it something to do, here’s what kills me [and my recovery]: “You can’t eat that cookie… do you know HOW MANY FAT GRAMS are in something like THAT?! See you are practically ballooning already! Let’s just put that down now… carrots. Those would be so much better for you. Low in calories, WAAAY more vitamins than a cookie! Or better yet, how ’bout we just skip this snack altogether?”

My meager responses, “But I’m tired of carrots…” and “I’m hungry so I should eat this cookie” don’t stand up very well to the loud, thundering shots shouts of the eating disorder. It’s like trying wage war against an enemy with nuclear bombs when all you have is spears. Sooo not going to win…

The best solution I’ve come up with is keeping the mind busy and engaged on something other than calories, fat grams, WW points, “unpure”  ingredients, etc. while I’m eating. I don’t mean I try to zone out and not focus on the meal and food; I am still present and in the moment. But I have found the perfect tool for keeping myself interacting with the present, while still preventing my mind from slipping into an all out ED freakout.

Introducing my SECRET WEAPON: the eating disorder has not figured out how to hijack this one yet. Titled Meal by Meal: 365 Meditations for Finding Balance through Mindful Eating, Donald Altman’s book is filled with enough to keep your brain engaged during meal times for a whole year! There is a dedication for each day that includes a small quote, a reflection on the topic of the quote, and a final suggestion for implementing the lesson of the day.

Compact and cute, this book is perfect for throwing in your tote or bookbag, but also stylish enough to leave on the dining room table. I usually use this as a tool for when I’m eating alone, when I’m most vulnerable to the eating disorder, but it’s also a great conversation starter for those dinners when I can hear the crickets growing louder, though there are three of us around the table.

The messages are powerful and wise, enough to carry from meal-to-meal everyday. Often I find the lessons are so profound, I choose to keep thinking about them throughout the day and apply to other areas of my life.

To give you a peek at my secret weapon, take yesterday for example:

The entry labeled February 20th started with a quote:

“Man does not live by bread alone. Every now and then, he needs a cookie.”

-Groucho Marx

How great is that? My ED rants and raves about cookies, but here is someone telling me cookies are, gasp… essential for the survival of a [wo]man! The page went on to explain that deprivation leads to rebellion, and that setting rigid boundaries for yourself is one of the roots of the struggle with food. Finally, the entry ended with the suggestion of reflecting on your personal rigid boundaries and how you could change them to moderation.

So last night, guess what? I had some dessert after dinner even though my ED had it’s tantrum. I broke it’s rigid restriction of no sweets, no sugar, no fun… Guess what else? The world didn’t collapse, I didn’t instantly blow up, and I was able to savor every blissful bite of rebellion. It was moderation, not deprivation.

Take that, you evil Eating Disorder! Every now and again, a woman needs a cookie!


One Response to “Shh! It’s my Secret Weapon…”


  1. Yellow Brick Recovery Road « keepingcourage - September 26, 2011

    […] I read my daily meditation for mindful eating this morning, it had a wonderful quote that has really helped me pull back from the struggle […]

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