Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weigh-in no. 32: Irish wakes & discovering food triggers

"Funeral" - acrylic on canvas by Dror Miler (2009, via Flickr)
This past week, I participated and helped out in my first Irish wake and funeral.  My close friend Emma and her family finally said goodbye to their dad (and husband) who had been struggling with colon and liver cancer for the past 17 months (I've written about them previously here).  I and a couple others were called upon to be present and assist the family over the course of the week, taking turns to make sure someone was in the house during the wake most days, and I feel so grateful to have had the privilege of being there and helping.

And what a week it was.  

Jimmy passed away last Sunday morning, the wake began Sunday evening and lasted until the funeral on Thursday afternoon, and then the family had a smaller, more intimate cremation service and reception on Friday.  My own personal grief aside at saying goodbye to such a dearly loved man who in many ways encapsulated all the things I loved and wished my own father were able to be, observing the process here was fascinating.  The sheer volume of people who came through the doors of the farmhouse (Jimmy was a farmer in mid-Ulster) was astounding, the volume of food (mostly sweets) brought by friends and family was overflowing, and the whole idea of so many extended family coming by to pay their respects felt a little foreign, I have to admit.

Meanwhile, there's me - mostly cooking and cleaning up after people so that 1) the family wouldn't have to do it and 2) proper food (not just sandwiches and cake) would be available to sustain them over the course of the long week, so I prepared breakfasts, Irish stew (ha! I had to laugh at the irony of the American making Irish stew for the Irish), pasta and salads, loaves of homemade bread, and other essentials to get them through.

But within the context of this blog, this week served to illuminate some interesting things that I am now much more aware of.  I was surrounded by food this week and I've discovered some triggers for me in relation to it:

1)  I never really thought I was a binge eater - an overeater, yes, but an binge eater, no.  I think I still am on the borderline, but I discovered my ability to turn off physical aspects of eating (taste, feeling full, discernment about what's worth consuming and what's not) were greater than I remembered.  I was surrounded by food this week and I struggled internally a great deal of the time trying to curb my desire to inhale whatever was in front of me, whether it tasted good or not.  Some times I was able to resist or moderate; other times I succumbed (although I think I stopped before I reached the level of 'binge').

2) I discovered that I eat for comfort.  Some say that they overeat/binge in a desire to induce numbness, but I felt numb already without consuming food.  Instead, I found myself eating in order to feel, to find satisfaction, to feel comfort - or, scariest of all, because I can't think of anything else to do with myself.

3)  I was on the road a lot this week driving back and forth to the farm, which was about an hour's drive away.  I discovered that when I'm preparing for a long drive, I compulsively wanted junk to eat.  Somewhere in my mind, long drives require junk food (chips, chocolate, cookies, etc).  So stopping to get fuel before I set off was always a bit of a battle.  Although I gave in and had a couple Cadbury eggs, I did take comfort in the fact that they were my first and only ones this year as opposed to the dozen or more I usually had over the course of a few weeks in years past.

So for weigh-in today, the scale says....

Weigh-in no. 32 (-1.0)
Starting weight:  327.0
Last week:          280.8
This week:          279.8      
Loss of                 - 1.0
Total Loss         - 47.2 lbs

It's better than I expected.  I halfway expected another gain this week.  But I'm out of the 80s again (thank God!) and life appears to be returning to half-way normal again. 

I have a conference again this week so my exercise routine and eating still won't be back completely on track, but hey - that's life, eh?  But now that I'm more aware of my triggers related to food, hopefully I can make better decisions and sustain this week's weight loss.  Here's to another week!

What are your food triggers?  What conditions make your good intentions fly right out the window?  
What food-related things still surprise you in your journey?


  1. I'm sorry for your friend's loss.

    Good job on your loss. Let's make good choices this week!

    I was upset this week and I binged. I didn't binge on anything that's "bad" but afterwards, I felt so sick. Haven't felt this way in a long time and I hope that I don't do this again any time soon.

  2. Again, sorry about the loss

    The insights you gained into your eating habits are very interesting though. That kind of information about the way you respond to emotions and its connection to your eating habits is invaluable.

  3. I'm not sure what my triggers are besides my unhealthy favorites. I found out last week that if I'm not losing weight I'm triggered to give up and eat. Not seeing results of my efforts gives me a "reason" to eat. I also discovered that if I ignore my "full point" and keep eating that I don't feel full again or for the rest of the day. I was an enlightening realization. I love your blog! Thanks for sharing! Check out my blog:

  4. You're almost at 50 pounds lost!! Honestly, it gives me anxiety being around so much food. I don't feel safe and I always eat WAY too much. But I am getting better.