I grew up in rural South Carolina where Sunday dinners were an important family event. You went to church on Sunday, then you had an enormous dinner. Those dinners set the precedent for all others. Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, New Year’s Day, and others…all holidays in which enormous meals are eaten. These meals usually were attended by large groups of family and friends. Have you ever noticed that those holidays, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving, always feel like a Sunday? Holidays and Sundays invite a feeling of community, togetherness and belonging.
Other environments that foster these feelings are weddings and funerals. More large meals, more feelings of community, togetherness, belonging. As a child, I attended countless Sunday dinners, holidays and family gatherings. I spent decades learning that food = community, togetherness and belonging. Food = life. Food = family. Food = happiness. FOOD=LOVE.
As I grew up and got older, my life changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I was younger. Death, loss and fear seemed to be a common thread. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. So I began to create Sundays.
My binge eating trigger became any day in which the events of the day left me with a feeling of lack. Bad day at work, argument with a friend, a perceived slight by a stranger, unexpected financial strain, sick family member, death…it’s time to create a Sunday. Time to feel better by gathering tasty food and ceremoniously eating it. I’d drive across town gathering my Sunday dinner. Dinner from this place, desert from that place, snack from that other place, drinks, dessert, entrées. I spent a lot of gasj gathering just the right elements. Then, I’d go home, put in a movie and eat everything in sight. I created a Sunday. But, behind every Sunday is a Monday. The next day, I’d hate myself. I’d be disgusted because I lied to myself. Disgusted because every Monday, I was starting over. Which created even greater feelings of lack, and more Sundays. Eventually, EVERY day became Sunday.
Today, the call came at 5:30am. Bad news. My brain, which was excited before bed to make salmon cakes and sweet potatoes, shut down. Rendered useless. Depression swooped in like a vulture and hovered over my head, waiting for me to stink so it could light. I needed a Sunday.
I knew it was going to be a tough day. I knew my body and my brain was begging me to create a Sunday so I could ‘feel better’. So, I started reminding myself that I didn’t want to add my personal failure to the tragedy that was already unfolding. I told myself that every Sunday precedes a Monday. Mondays were the day I beat myself up. Monday was the day I dealt with the bloating and indigestion. The self-hate and self-doubt. The tears. The disappointment. The setback in my weight loss. The starting over.
But guess what? I didn’t make Thursday a Sunday. I didn’t have a Chipotle barbacoa bowl with guacamole, or a cupcake, or Ben and Jerry’s. I had salmon cakes and sweet potatoes. It’s so important to understand yourself and the pressures that cause you to give up on eating right. Take the time to ask yourself this question the instant you think about quitting:
How will I feel once I’ve broken the promise I’ve made to myself?
If you eat that cupcake, and that Chipotle and have that mojito, how are you going to feel? What will you tell your accountability partners? How many days will that set you back from moving towards your goal?
I didn’t break my Whole 30. I stuck with it. I skipped breakfast and I ate the same thing for lunch and dinner. But, that doesn’t matter. I STUCK WITH IT!
I’m starting over for the last time. If I can do it, believe me. You can, too.