I Would Like To Damn McDonald’s To Hell For It’s Irresistable Breakfast Menu.

Concentration

While I’ll never been so overweight that my health is at risk, I’ve been constantly trying to lose that last [insert random number between 10 and 40 here] pounds for the last five years. I actually had lost 20lbs right before Christmas and then immediately gained back 10 of it. So I’ve been trying to re-lose that 10lbs ever since. Re-losing weight you’ve already lost recently is emotionally taxing because you spend a lot of time kicking yourself in the head for gaining it to begin with. It’s also unhealthy. There are studies out there that say losing and gaining the same 10lbs over and over again is worse for your body than just keeping it on to begin with. I’d link to the study but it’s cold in my house right now and I’m just trying to whip this entry out before my fingers freeze off.

Yesterday was a Bad Day. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight or change your lifestyle at all – you know the Bad Day. It’s the day where, somewhere a long the way, your eating program goes out the window and you find yourself giving up on the entire day ending in a fit of binging that sometimes sees you falling asleep at 10pm with your face in a bowl of Cheese Puffs. My Bad Days are not always about junk food, mainly because we rarely keep junk food in the house. Sometimes I’ll make a Bad Day worse by hitting a fast food joint, but most of my Bad Days just involve me eating too much good stuff. I like a lot of healthy foods – like yogurt and granola. So, a Bad Day might see me binging on that throughout the day. That fact is probably the only thing keeping me ballooning to a greater size – that when I binge it is usually on healthy food. However, calories are calories so when you eat double what you should – whether it’s in yogurt or french fries – you’re going to gain back weight you’ve lost. Which is where I am right now. Where I was yesterday.

I sat in bed last night thinking about my relationship with food. It is such an emotional relationship. A Bad Day for me never involves just food. It’s always bad for emotional reasons as well. Some days I can easily say: I binged because I was stressed. Or: I binged because I missed my Dad. Or: I binged because I yelled at my kids unnecessarily and I felt really guilty about that. Many days food is my therapy. It helps ease my anxiety or depression. It’s my friend to call when I’m stressed or angry.

But it also goes the other way. My food started out bad yesterday when I allowed myself an unhealthy splurge for breakfast: An Egg McMuffin. I used to eat those all the time and I just allowed myself to have one yesterday. I thought, the calorie count isn’t too much more than what I usually eat for breakfast, I can get away with it. Except that something inside of me recognized the inherent badness of the food and you know what? My emotional well-being paid the price. I feel like my depression and anxiety shifted after eating that and the day just got worse. In other words – the bad food? Put me in a bad mood. I’ve often seen this as a predictable relationship in my life: If I eat shitty? I feel shitty. And then, I feel shitty – so I eat more shittily. (Dude. I totally just made up a word.) It’s an unhealthy cycle involving my emotions and food.

I guess I’ve always know this – that food and my emotions are connected. I just don’t think I realized how clearly they’re connected until yesterday when I honestly watched my productivity decline and my stress and anxiety level rise as the grease from the breakfast sandwich permeated my bloodstream. And since it was breakfast? The day went downhill from there. By the time I went to bed last night I had cried more in that day than I had in the weeks prior. And I had also eaten about 3500 calories of granola, yogurt, and also some pizza. (Because, let’s face it, if you’ve trashed your diet by dinner time? Why waste the energy cooking something healthy?)

It’s a weird thing to recognize something concretely that I’ve been vaguely hinting at for years. I’ve always known I had an unhealthy relationship with food, turning to it when I’m not feeling 100%. But I don’t think I ever realized how clearly it works the other way as well: That splurging on something bad for me can also so distinctly shift my mood in the bad direction. Starting the horrible cycle of eating and crying that inevitably defines my Bad Day.

I’m hoping this really clear evidence will help me reshape my relationship with food. Really look at it as fuel for my emotions and trying to make decisions with a better understanding of how it really can affect my mental state. I mean, the Sausage McGriddle tastes amazing (Why must McDonald’s have such an enticing breakfast menu?) – but what’s it going to do to my emotions? Is it worth the tears it may cause later? Is it worth the lack of patience I’ll show with my children? Is it worth the sacrifice my family will have to make as I cry all night? NO. I can honestly tell you that no food, no matter how delicious, is worth all of that. My family deserves better from me…but more importantly? I deserve better. I deserve to feel good, and if that greasy breakfast sandwich is going to make me feel like crap? Then why do I eat it? Hopefully – I won’t. I’m really going to try to examine how foods make me feel. And maybe even try to examine how my feelings affect my cravings. I know I head straight to the pantry when I get stressed…maybe if I recognize that it will be easier to battle it?

(Please don’t tell me to go for a run instead. My husband tells me that and it makes me want to punch him in the face. It’s probably the best advice anyone could give someone who eats when they’re stressed/depressed; but it doesn’t mean we actually enjoy hearing it.)

I’m curious if any of you have had any of these realizations with your relationship with food. Have you noticed any relationships between your mood and how you eat? Does one affect the other? We all know that certain foods help or hinder our energy level – but what about our depression or anxiety? Have you noticed certain foods having a positive or negative effect on those emotional states?

So: Today? I’m going to focus more on eating for my mind. For my heart. Not the organ beating in my chest, but the heart of my emotions. I want to eat in a way that helps me smile, that doesn’t block my inspirations, and that allows me to be productive in the ways I want to be productive. Maybe this is the first step in me breaking up with unhealthy eating habits. I’ve realized the relationship is bad for me, now I just have to take the key back and burn all the love letters. That’s the hard part. Too bad I don’t have my old Milli Vanilli tape. A little bit of Blame It On The Rain might help with the healing.

Nice smile, kid

23 thoughts on “I Would Like To Damn McDonald’s To Hell For It’s Irresistable Breakfast Menu.”

  1. I wanted to share with you, that last year I lost my dad too. I gained 14 pounds due to eating to comfort myself. It wasn’t even that I ate unhealthily, just more of what I was eating. Of course that pound of chocolate at Christmas was a killer!
    Anyway, I decided a few weeks ago to cut it out and get back on the WW plan. I struggled and struggled and finally forced myself to start writing everything down.
    I’m doing better.
    I still miss my Dad. Every single day. But I am starting to be happier about me again.
    Hugs.

  2. Please stop touching my brain! Seriously though, I’ve been thinking a lot about this as well. I lost quite a bit of weight through diet and exercise and recently the diet part has been totally thrown off (I got so busy that I got lazy about meals – lazy=processed convenience crap). In the past few weeks I’ve been a weepy emotional mess, and I know that a lot of it has to do with the lack of actual real fresh food in my diet.

    I also stopped planning meals and recording what I ate. Big mistake. It’s easy to forget that I had 3 big bowls of cereal when my brain just goes “Cereal = 1 bowl”.

    I think redefining why you need to eat well is a great idea. Just saying “I need to eat better” seems so vague and well, not helpful. But saying, “I’m going to eat in such a way that my head is clearer and I have more energy” seems much more powerful.

  3. I have a hate-hate relationship with not food, but my body. Because of PCOS, I have a ridiculously difficult time losing weight. My doctor has told me that if he has a PCOS patient who loses one pound in a year, he’s ecstatic. I can cut out all unhealthy foods from my diet, including soda, eat good portions, and can up my exercise routine and still not lose weight. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. I’m now on some insulin meds to hopefully regulate my body a bit so that I can lose weight.

  4. Ooooh, I am EXACTLY this way. I need to lose 20lbs and am in reasonable health with organic eating and regular exercise, but I cannot divorce food from feelings. And YES when I eat junky food, I immediately decline emotionally: I become moody and twitchy and a much meaner person. It’s like a bad drug. Feels good for like…what? 20 minutes? and then it’s nearly impossible to get the day back on track. And like you, if I start off with something heavy and not-so-good for breakfast, it’s really hard to save the day.

    I say go for a run. :P (Or find some other better habit to do in the very moment you want to eat b/c you’re emotionally jittery about something. Paint your nails? Do a handstand? I donno. I’m still looking for my go-to thing.)

  5. I think this post is going to resonate so much with a lot of people. I don’t remember what I was like when younger (at college I seemed to function on chocolate bars, apples and toast!) but over the past few years I have become increasingly aware that in order to feel good and be productive I have to eat well.

    Your not alone, when I veer off once and splurge on junk food I fall off the healthy eating wagon with a thump for the rest of the day. I eat relatively well during the week but at weekends eat poorly due to being lazy/busy I think.

    Also I have a problem turning down food I know will disagree with me later due to its rich content when at a friends house. I don’t want to appear rude or fussy although I know plenty of people who don’t have a problem with this.

  6. I have a similar – but not identical – relationship. I eat when I’m bored. Unfortunately with my job, that can be a lot. Oh, the curses of the vending machine, just one floor away. :/

    But I did notice just last night that I let alcohol have this affect on my emotions. Crappy day? One glass of wine makes it all better. And kinda? It did. Excuse me while I go sign up for AA.

  7. Man, reading that was hard for me, because you somehow managed to put into words exactly what I deal with on a daily basis. My emotional health seems to be on a teeter-totter with my eating habits, and they battle it out every day for the higher spot. I can’t stand it, and I’m constantly trying to change it. I feel awful, guilty, and just generally depressed when I let myself splurge. When i eat healthy, I feel in control of things and am generally an all-around nicer person to everyone I come in contact with. I need to start focusing on making my body and my emotional self happy with what I eat instead of just indulging my taste buds 24 hours a day.

  8. I swear I have to meet you some day. I have been reading your blog for quite some time and have commented a few times but it seems like your posts are soo often exactly what I am thinking. I have been struggling with the whole weight/emotions thing so much lately. I lost 50 lbs about two years ago and have gained almost all of it back b/c of what has been going on in my life these days. I decided to get 2 Krispy Kreme doughnuts this morning on my way to work and now I’m struggling with the guilt of doing that just like you and the mcdonalds. Very frustrating. Every night when I got to bed I have a pep talk with myself that tomorrow is a new day and I can start fresh and things will be good. It usually doesn’t happen. I need to figure something out.

  9. *hugs* It’s good to recognize these things, no matter how much they suck. I’m working on exercising regularly and eating better (and less). It’s complicated stuff though.

  10. This is a great post. Although it is making me SERIOUSLY crave some McDonald’s hash browns and an egg mcmuffin. I agree with you on the breakfast menu.

    The best I’ve ever felt, emotionally and physically, was starting my 3rd week in to You! On a Diet. Eating REAL FOOD all the time – veggies, fruit, nuts, beans, lean meat – had an amazing effect on my body.

    But I managed to forget that and lose sight of it. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. First, thanks for getting Blame it On The Rain stuck in my head this morning. I am going to be humming that all day now. :-)

    Second, I have a bad habit when I am home alone to skip eating lunch and just grab a quick snack. When I do that, I never sem to be able to sit down and eat a meal all day. I just graze all day on whatever is handy.

    But the thing I have noticed most about my eating habits is that I am not a stress-eater. I am a relief-eater. I canNOT eat when I am stressed out, but the nanosecond that stress has been dealt with or is over, I pig out. And it is never healthy stuff I crave at that moment in time. I haven’t figured out how to cope with that yet, but I am working on it.

  12. I’m noticing more and more that food is my answer to everything. Happy= eat, Sad= eat, alone= eat, with friends- you get the picture. You’re not alone!

  13. When Manoj was out of the country, I went easy on the cooking of meals and we splurged on carb-laden goodies like pasta and pizza (even having some “boxed” meals.) Ugh. I felt like utter CRAP by the end of his absence. It was a good lesson for me and I was more than happy to get back to cooking from scratch again. While it sucks that Manoj is skinny, pre-diabetic, his diet restrictions are good for the entire family. We still have junk food, but it is a treat that we savor.

    We are what we eat! :-)

    P.S. My downfall at McDonald’s is their cheeseburger (hold the ketchup) and a Coke. They have the BEST Coke because they follow the specifications by Coke to the letter for setting up the syrup and water lines. Also, they give that awesome, big straw. YUM. Now? I want a Coke. Dang it.

  14. Okay I am right here with ya sister. I eat when i am sad and then i turn around and treat myself by eating when i am happy too.

    there are a couple things here that you aren’t giving yourself some slack for…first, you are a mom. to THREE! that’s huge. that means that your “you time” is at a minimum right now. also, that may mean (if you are me anyway) that dollars are also at a minimum right now. so when you need perking up, you can’t go and buy a pony or a yacht or fly off to greece to get re-centered. so food is the cheap alternative to all of that.

    second, it could be worse. you could be talking about an unhealthy addiction to your child’s adhd medication or worse…but you are concentrating on being a good mom and occasionally that means breaking down and having the mcmuffin.

    alot of my own issue comes from my mom. she was ALWAYS on a diet. my entire life she was dieting. and it wasn’t because she was huge (5foot 2 and 115 lbs). it was because she was a control fur-reak and that was the only thing she could really truly have total control over. everything else had an element of chance to it. what that also meant for us girls was that she noticed OUR weight also. and that lead to us wanting to rebel and just eat whatever we wanted to. (can you tell there hae been years of therapy related to weight and food here?)

    so anyway, what i am trying to say is that you are doing great. you are balancing alot of things and you fell off the wagon a time or two. maybe if you make the treats more scheduled they will seem more like “events to remember” than just convenience. i always remember going out for breakfast with our baby. it’s fun, we all laugh and have a great time and eat lots of butter and syrup. it’s a party, an event! not just a way to sustain our bodies. rarely do i remember anything that i ate between the saturdays because those were just meals. our saturday morning breakfast is a Big Deal though…

    the added bonus here is that your kids will see yummy things as a treat, an event, something fun and different! rather than the normal “just eating” type situation.

    please don’t associate your weight gain with failure. it just means that you are succeeding at something else right now…raising healthy kids, being a sweet wife, having the most spotless floors on wisteria lane…

  15. I was struggling with this same issue a few years ago, and a friend of mine gave me some good advice: Stop beating yourself up! Everyone slips up and does things that are bad for them. The main point for me is not letting that be the beginning of the downward spiral. If I have a bad breakfast, then I DO make an effort to have a healthy lunch and dinner. That way I can tell myself “Hey, I may have been a little bad, but look at the GOOD things I did!” Also, if I am craving something, I have it. This does not mean that I sit down on the sofa with a bag of Cheetos and watch TV, if I did that that bag would be gone so fast it would make your head spin :-) No, I take a small portion of whatever I want, put it in a small bowl, put the rest away, and then sit at the table and enjoy the portion I have. I found that if I don’t feed that craving, it just leads to worse things down the line. I have also been known to get a McGriddle, eat a few bites, and throw the rest away. It may seem wasteful, but better in the trash than on my hips, and being able to put it down, or throw it away, makes me feel in control again.

  16. I have a real problem with salt. I definitely crave salty things more than sweet, but when I have too much salt in my diet (usually a dinner out will do it), I get super anxious and irritable. It’s just something that I’ve realized in the past few months. Eating bad in general does make me feel depressed or down about the fact that I caved in, but with the salt I think there is some sort of actual physical connection. Not to say that I don’t choose a margarita or chips and salsa every once in a while, I just know what I’m in for now and try to prepare myself mentally for it.

    I’ve noticed these interactions between food and mood a lot more in the past few years, which coincides with when I started to be more conscious about the type of food I was eating on a regular basis. I think now that my body is used to healthy food, it gets really pissed at me when I turn to the junk.

  17. I really enjoy the writing about food at Kateharding.net. They make a point of reminding us that food is just food. It is not inherently good or bad. Crummy food can make your body feel crummy, but eating it doesn’t make you a bad person, nor does eating healthy food make you a good person.

    I often crave sweet things when I’m tired/stressed, and I want to have them to make myself feel better, but I know that they don’t actually make me feel better. So now I tell myself “If you want to have a cookie, have a cookie, but don’t kid yourself that it will make you feel better. If you want to feel better, figure out what you need to do to feel better.”

  18. I’m in the same boat. I’ve had weight issues since I got out of the Air Force years ago. I’m currently on a track to lose weight and I’ve come up with a compromise that seems to work for me. I make sure I go to the gym at least 3 times a week & that I work out for at least 20 mins continuously. For eating, I try to stay under 2000 cal/per day (and I don’t include any burned off cals via workout). To track this, I use an iPhone app & website called MyFitnessPal (www.myfitnesspal.com). It really helps me to track my eating.

    This is the thing that I think helps me the most; I give myself one day off from this regimen each week. On that day, I don’t work out & I eat what I want.

    I’ve been doing this since Jan 1st and I’ve lost about 16lbs so far. This is enough incentive to keep me going without making me fret over every little morsel I eat.

    I hope this helps. :)

  19. i’m so about to fwd you the email chain i’ve just been in… but before that, you know that i do this too, and even worse i also do it because i just LOVE to eat. i love you, food. i wish i could divorce it, or just not love it so much. :’(

  20. The quality of the food I eat absolutely impacts my mood or, more accurately, my ability to deal with my stress/sadness/fatigue. I compound it by being someone who does not comfort eat but instead tends not to eat when I’m stressed/upset/fatigued. You would think that would help, but that means the slice of comfort food pizza I had for lunch and the snickers bar will be the ONLY food I put in my body that day. So, my body has no actual nourishment to use to create the seratonin or whatever the heck it is I need. My husband has learned to coax me in to eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich (a childhood comfort food) or bowl of yogurt whenever I am having a day like that.

  21. I emotionally eat all the time :( Which is part of what has led to being so overweight that it really does affect my health. Of course, that can’t be fixed all at once, so I just keep trying to have more good days – and rewarding myself when I do, reminding myself that it’s NOT easy, but that I CAN do it. And and and… ARGH. :P

  22. If you’re still thinking of therapy to help cope with your dad’s death, then I think that would be a good place to tackle this. They could really help you learn some healthier ways to cope with anxiety and emotions. I have friends who have had success w/their binge eating through therapy.

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