I’ve posted here a couple of times about the eating plan I started back in late September. It’s called Whole30 (google for more info) and it’s a way of eating based on vegetables, meats, fruits, nuts, and various sources of healthy fats. It’s been a simple and life-changing way of eating for me, and I’m doing a Whole30 extended to 100 days right now (up to the Aries New Moon, to be all new-agey about it).
My eating before this was junk. Literally. I didn’t have any sense of what constituted nutrition, and conflicting information did nothing to help me come to a decision. So I ate junk. And I felt like junk, frankly.
As soon as I started my first Whole30 I realized this was a pretty intuitive way of eating for me (it’s certainly not that way for everybody, but it was for me) and that it fit with what I wanted for my life. So I’ve kind of stuck with it, taking breaks and eating off-plan, so to speak, when I wanted to – travels, holidays, things like that.
Now that I’m in the midst of a longer period of time eating this way, I’m understanding more thoroughly how my junk eating habits masked junk coping habits. I’m figuring out that just as I once reached for junk food (or, more accurately, food designed to raise my blood pressure even higher!!), I also – still – have a habit of reaching for junk coping mechanisms (that are also designed to raise that blood pressure!).
It’s funny, because I knew when I was eating food that was bad for me. I just didn’t have appropriate-for-me tools to alter that. Eating Whole30 helped me find very simple, direct tools to make changes I needed to make in my eating. Now this coping mechanism thing is a somewhat different matter. I’m finding that I don’t always know that a coping mechanism is emotional junk food, so to speak. It might be something so ingrained in me to do, that I don’t have a clear sense of why it hurts. But somehow, cleaning up my eating has given me mental clarity and emotional calm to understand, gradually, as a junk coping mechanism pops up.
I mean, if I’m eating the entire bag of chips, it’s not a big mystery that I’m doing something that’s not good for me. But if I’m reaching for comfort from a source that does not provide comfort (and instead provides pain), I may not understand what I am doing, much less that it is a junk food-type coping mechanism. It seems fairly obvious as I type it out here, but in the midst of needing comfort, and reaching out, I don’t think clearly that reaching for the familiar is reaching for something not right for me.
When I discovered that there was a clear way for me to eat whole foods and have it all make sense and taste good, the choice was easy and I really never looked back. It kind of felt like a nice deep happy breath, and on with life, you know? But as I’m uncovering some of these emotional coping mechanisms that I’m preeeeetty sure the junk food was masking, my response is different. I feel really sad that the places I reach for emotional comfort and get pain back, are not places I can reach for comfort. I feel alone. I feel abandoned – at least in that moment, though thankfully not in all of my life. I feel mentally bewildered – not understanding why something that once did feel like a good place for me to go for comfort, support, understanding, now is not. Certainly there is an ebb and flow of life, and often change is there to bring new openness and new sources of those very things I seek. But I’m not clear on how something that used to not feel like junk, now does. And that makes me feel sad, confused, and alone.
I also feel, paradoxically, free, as I contemplate that there might be other ways to receive what I need. I suppose what I’m looking for right now is a simple template, as simple as the eating plan I described at the beginning of the post. I’d like something I can follow and trust, or at least test it out, for a period of time. Because when it comes down to it, I think I lost some of my confidence in my sense of trust. I love that I’ve had some practice at trusting, and I’d like more of a sense that I can sink into a feeling of trust and have it hold me.