FOOD FOOD FOOD Fast food is my drug of choice. Having a bad day? Head to the McDonald's drive thru (it's just around the corner from my house). Kids are being totally unmanageable? Make a game in your head of which place, Wendy's, Burger King, McDonald's, or Chick Fil A has the item(s) that will make me feel better. Only places with a drive thru are eligible for consideration so that I don't have to take the 2 and 4 year old out of the car. The first bite of a bacon double cheeseburger or the first handful of salty fries or the first mouthful of a large strawberry milkshake with whip cream is like heaven and in that instant I feel so happy and everything is under my control and everything is going to be okay and I feel that I could die right then and there and feel totally content and happy. Food has been a treat. Food has been something that I splurged on when I didn't have money to splurge on anything. There have been too many times when I have been thankful that I take care of paying our bills as I look at the credit card statement and see how many charges are at fast food restaurants. Food has always been something that makes me feel better when I am sad, upset, or angry. Food has made me feel rich and like everything is okay when it really isn't. Food has been the thing that has made me feel connected to my old self in these years of motherhood when there seemed to be nothing of my old self left.
I woke up one day this January, though, and looked at my children, who were probably eating chicken strips and french fries from McDonald's at the time, and suddenly had this memory of my mother telling me that as a very young child, even before I could talk, I would cry when we drove by the golden arches. I wanted us to stop and I wanted french fries. This is pre-talking--and I began to talk when I was just a little over a year old. And I looked at my babies and I looked at the large Coke with light ice in my hand and I thought, "What am I doing?" The thing is, I knew better. I knew better and still I was continuing and passing on a pattern that, at the very least, is expensive, and in reality and at the very worst, completely detrimental to our health and well being.
So, how does a girl like me, who heads to the nearest fast food restaurant when the going gets tough, mend her ways? Very slowly and very painfully and with many mis-steps and bumps in the road (translate as--trips to McDonald's et al). Not feeling ashamed of what I'm feeding my children is a great motivator as is the fact that I lost 7 pounds as soon as I stopped having a large Coke with light ice and whatever else sounded good from the McDonald's drive thru every day of the week. The universe sent me so many signs at the same time--a wonderful chiropractor who educates about healthy eating, friends who are terrific healthy eaters, and articles in every magazine that I seemed to pick up about wellness and good nutrition.
But the real hard work has been having to deal with my emotions instead of smothering them in cheeseburgers, french fries, and strawberry shakes. And now, the most difficult step yet--I am on day 2 of an 11 day cleanse and my children are still as demanding as ever and my life has the same amount of stress and I have those same old tendencies but I am absolutely unable to satisfy my need to head to the drive thru or the cabinet when I get upset and it is hard and I mean it. I chose, with full knowledge of my deplorable eating habits of the past, to do the cleanse as a way to get rid of the toxins that I'm sure have built up in my system, but I didn't realize how utterly helpless I would feel without my old stand by coping mechanism. I'm serious. I was at the end of my rope with my children this afternoon and I was standing in front of my kitchen cabinet wanting so badly to eat as many potato chips as possible and I couldn't and I felt a panic that I cannot describe. I'm not going to lie. I had some potato chips and they were good but as I stood there I had this 'Aha!' moment--It became clear to me that this was what my cleanse will be about. Perhaps I will flush some of the toxins from my system and perhaps I will lose some weight, but my real growth will come from beginning to find a new coping mechanism. A coping mechanism that doesn't involve using disgusting food as a way of making me feel happy, less stressed, or like my old self. Because really, who wants to cry for french fries every time they pass by the golden arches? My old self did, but hopefully the new me will take my old self home for a snuggle with my children or a long talk with my husband or a friend. Hopefully the new me will comfort my old self in such a loving way that she won't feel like she has to cry anymore.