Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are you eating in secret?

There was a time, not that long ago, when visiting a Drive-Thru window was the best part of my day. Certainly, they are convenient for someone who is in a hurry and/or one who has mobility issues, but they can be a “big girl’s” stumbling block. When I was 400+ pounds and unable to walk, the only way I could eat out was to frequent a place that had the drive-thru option. It was easy: pull up to the window, order way more food than necessary, find a parking spot, and then quickly consume thousands of calories of ‘junk’…..all in the secrecy and privacy of my car……then just throw away the evidence of my binge.

Even though I live a long distance from any fast-food restaurant this was a way of life, especially when I was commuting to college out-of-town or traveling back-and-forth downstate to care for my priest friend. It seems there is a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Burger King at every exit and on every corner in town. When I moved up north, the nearest McDonald’s was a half-hour away,  so whenever I was in town, I felt that I OWED it to myself to hit the drive-thru “just because I was THERE in town”; even if I wasn’t hungry or dinner time was hours away. Like Jell-O, there’s always room for French Fries and a milk shake, right? 

Besides the convenience, these windows allow a food addict to eat in secret and avoid the shame that is often associated with an obese person at a fast-food joint. It made it easy to overeat; after all, the teen at the window didn’t know that those TWO Big Mac’s, super-size fries, and apple pies were all for me. There was no one to question whether I was going to eat ALL that food; no stares or looks of disbelief; no one to remind me that I was about to consume 2000 or more calories. It was just me, the occasional birds that landed on the hood waiting for a French fry, my paper bag of food, and the privacy of my car to hide my addiction.

I was always a “closet eater” with goodies stashed away. I should have realized back then that if I felt the need to hide what and how much I was eating then very likely, I was not making good choices. It was almost as if I knew subconsciously (or maybe consciously) that what I was doing was unhealthy and I felt shame and embarrassed….so I ate in private.  I lived alone so I could eat the entire bag of chips…and there was no one to question me. I could bring home a pizza and eat half of it…and no one knew. I thought I was hiding my addiction as I tried to cover up my pain and grief….and yet, it was becoming increasingly visible to the world as I gained more and more weight; only I didn’t realize that.  WHY?  Probably because I chose NOT to; I was living in denial.

My friends….this clip is such a powerful reminder….. WE CANNOT HIDE our addictive behavior. We may be able to cover it up for a while….masking the smell of cigarettes with Febreeze or perfume; hiding the alcohol on your breath with a mint; faking a smile to cover the pain; or inhaling the candy bar in the bathroom…..but ultimately, the consequences for our choices becomes VERY REAL and visible.  What you eat in private…..you wear in public, as the quote says.

I typically make good choices these days with my food, but I still have the bad habit of taking food to bed with me along with the newspaper. It’s a bad habit that I’m not sure I’ll ever break, but at least the food I take is healthy and nutritious, but still….I’m often NOT HUNGRY….but I eat anyway. I know this is a weakness and an area that needs to improve so I try to compensate by saving calories throughout the day so that I don’t stray off track. But still…..I need to address it at some point. I am a work in progress and I am so glad that “God isn’t finished with me yet!”  I really need to make a rule that says, “All food must be consumed in the kitchen” but I’m not there YET.

I encourage you today….be mindful of what you eat…WHERE you eat….and WHO is present when you do.  If you find yourself eating in ‘secret’ perhaps this is an area you might want to reflect upon. Most of the time when we have to “HIDE” what we are doing, it’s because somewhere deep inside, we know that the behavior is not really good for us and we feel some shame. 

Have a good day today!!!