I have a problem with food. I know what the problem is. I eat compulsively. I can name the problem. I just don’t know what to do about it, exactly.
Or maybe I just don’t want to do anything about it.
What do I mean when I say I eat compulsively?
- I eat when I’m not hungry. I crave food when I’m not hungry, and in that moment I will get food and eat it anyway.
- I eat when I watch something on a screen. For reasons I don’t understand, watching a show or movie makes me want to eat. And you know what happens when I want to eat. (See #1)
- When I start eating for compulsive reasons, I don’t stop when the pleasure is gone. I continue well beyond the point of having fun. Sometimes I even begin to feel bad and yet I keep eating.
- I have a strange compulsion to eat all of whatever it is I have. If I buy a pint of ice cream and eat some of it, I’ll be watching something on a screen (#2) and my mind keeps returning to that half empty pint in the freezer. Eventually I’ll get up and finish it off. Sometimes I get the strangest feeling of satisfaction too, as if by eating all the cookies, I’ve got the cookies out of the house now and won’t be tempted by them anymore. In my bizarro eating world, finishing all the cookies is somehow a healthy move to make and will benefit me tomorrow. You know, tomorrow, when I start eating right.
- Rather than make and eat healthy food, I give in and grab a burger or something unhealthy and eat that for a meal, even though I don’t really enjoy it and would save time and money by eating something lighter and healthier that I could make myself.
You add all those up and, yeah, I’ve got a little eating problem.
It’s also a problem that if you met me you wouldn’t think of me as overweight. So my bad eating isn’t costing me a lot right now. I think a lot of men in our culture eat badly, and we carry it in our midsection. I exercise a lot, and my cycling has given me muscular legs. My arms and shoulders are strong too. (Thank you mountain biking) So if I wear a loose shirt, I look fine. But I’m carrying 25 pounds of fat around my middle that I’d be better off without. And there is no way I can exercise enough to fix that. I’m exercising at my max capacity for my life and work schedule right now. If I want that 25 pounds gone, I will have to change the way I eat.
And I don’t want to face that. Because I don’t want to lose what my bad eating does for me. Even though I have no idea what it does for me. I only know that in the moment, I grab the chips, start munching, and don’t stop until they’re done. And I like eating them.
Look, if you have struggled mightily with an eating disorder and have serious weight issues, I understand why you might not take me seriously. But I hope you’ll resist the urge to explain to me that since you have a bigger eating problem, I should be quiet and count my blessings. Maybe you do and maybe I should. But if you read that list of five items in my fourth paragraph again, you’ll see that there is really no escaping the truth. I’ve got an eating problem.
Right now I’m 25 pounds heavier than I should be. In 10 years, I’ll 35 pounds heavier. And if I injure myself or find myself unable to exercise as much as I do, that will become 45 pounds in no time.
I need to do something about it.
I don’t know where to start.
So I thought I would begin by coming clean and admitting this publicly. I’ve made no plans beyond posting this.
Except that maybe, having said this out loud, I might take the next step. Whatever that is.