Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
There’s no doubt right now from sea to sea and land-to-land people are running (or hiding in solitude) from the Coronavirus that seems to be spreading like wild fire. It’s a regrouping time at best and scary at worst.
As most who read my blogs know, I work with predominately food addiction, eating disorders, addictions, anxiety and depression, mixed with everything in between. So you can bet my phone is ringing off the hook and I’m working around the clock to help those that are not only frightened of the virus but also frightened they’ll begin to binge-eat and possibly purge as a coping method.
One of my most recent books, Release Your Obsession with Cheat DAZE: Heal from the Inside Out I address the cheat day mentality—a time to eat freely because of this or that or whatever. And I discuss how this kind of thinking is often during birthdays, holidays and vacation time.
But guess what?
It’s also during times like this, while we’re hunkered down, waiting—and waiting—and waiting some more for direction and hope that this thing is under control, and we can go about our lives as we it once was. The fear is real and continuous. Many have lost their jobs leaving money scarce.
My husband had to shut down our restaurant, for more than six months and to date is operating at 50%, masks required when not eating or drinking, and social distancing in place.
Yes, it’s a time of the unknown. And during the time of the unknown the drinker wants to escape into the drink, while the food binger wants to dive into the food, and yes, the drug addict is jonsing for the drug. And what about the gambler whose casino might be closed or operating at minimal capacity?
Now is a time to regroup and think through better coping skills. Though the following is a partial excerpt from Release Your Obsession with Cheat DAZE, with the emphasis on food, parts were adjusted filling in alternate addictions whether it be drinking, gambling, drugging, etc., yet healthy coping is the same.
We can go through this difficult time with our addiction blazing, or we can have our head in the right place and release the “cheat day” mentality and cope…really cope…
To start the process of healing your thoughts and behaviors, begin with self-love and self-care. The essence of what frees the dieter (drinker, gambler, drug addict, etc.) is love. You can learn to love your body as it is now and move away from fad diets of cheat days into eating natural foods—to heal your body and heal your mind—from the inside out.
People are caught up in dieting and pursuing diets that make false promises and during troubling times like this often our addictions kick in to block out our real fears. The fear of not working, no income, businesses closing, the economy collapsing—all kick in on over-drive.
This fear is real.
Many can’t stop chasing fad, quick-weight-loss diets, hoping that THIS TIME they’ll break free from out-of-control thinking while body obsessing and longing for a cheat day fix—to make the pain go away. And yet, at the same time, food is consuming their thoughts: when to eat, where to eat and how to get it, especially if it’s a festive occasion or a made-up event that promises delights such as morsels of foods that will fill their sadness, lift their spirits, and bring unrealistic promises.
And in times of calamity the yearn for the cheat day is no different or less luring. A conditioning from the past says that on a long weekend you’re entitled to a cheat day. or we’re going to the movies, so come on—how can you have an authentic theater experience if you don’t munch on buttery popcorn and a chocolate bar—just this once. That’s part of the movie-house culture, and without it, you’re missing the event.
Or, we are in the middle of a pandemic, not to mention political unrest, so what the heck I might as well eat. The point of releasing your obsession with “cheat days” is about getting out of your own way with food, weight, drugs, and fear in order to travel or spend quality time off without going into food-fest frenzy or obsession frenzy with the cheat day mentality.
I want you to know I understand all too well the hell of celebratory eating and cycling between the highs and lows of events all sprinkled with promises of love and happy dust if you eat this or drink that during this festive occasion—or un-festive occasions such as fighting this virus that’s looming over all of us. But luckily, I know the way out of the vicious food-obsession, or any obsession for that matter, and wish to share it with you as I have with patients for the last twenty-three years.
As quoted at the start of this blog, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson. Let’s make way for a new path now.
Create a new way of looking at isolation and long stretches of quiet time, without making it all about food, drink, drugs, and etc. The phrase, do not go where the path may lead, in the context of this blog is saying to break free from what you always do.
Let’s break free from what always was and create a new path for what will be. A new path frees us of all the burdens of giddy obsessions about what gooey foods to eat because it’s a scary time.
Clear the path.
Emerson’s wise words are a key to halting our inner mind war to open a new self-dialogue and invite success into every fragment of our being. This recipe of clearing the path of old to create the path of new is of paramount importance. In this way, we may gain access to a fresh way of handling the wide-open space of time off with a transformed “vacation—off work mentality.”
We can begin to look at food as nutritious as well as delicious, no matter what else is going on. Imagine what you would feel like if you didn’t fall into the diet on and diet off mentality just because you have long days of the unknown ahead. Instead, you can make the stretch of time about time off to be with loved ones, or read a book, play with your kids, or explore your abandoned boxes in the garage—without diving into a vat of food and numbing out with a sugar-laden treat, just because you have free time.
Our goal is to move out of cheat day mentality and to look at our “off time” with a revised lens. Perhaps an outing with your kids, cycling around the block, or playing with the dog(s).
The outing is not about obsessions but about the awareness of where you are and who you are with. Real self-awareness lies in connecting to the here and now. When we numb with our addictions that we think ARE THE EVENT, we miss the moment.
Can we live in the moment if we are numb, in a coma state as we meander through the vacation?
Ideas for connecting to your real self and your surroundings are sprinkled throughout the pages of Release Your Obsession with Cheat DAZE; a dusting accompanies each word with the hope of liberating you from all the weight and pain of life you have suffered, as you release your obsession with cheat day behavior once and for all.
You no longer have to be the food fest prisoner longing for the upcoming cheat day. You know, the one festering for foods that you think you must have because everyone else is having it—or because you deserve it—or heck because you’re on vacation—or because you scheduled it.
This discussion portrays two adjacent worlds—one stuck in the “gotta eat this stuff because otherwise I’m missing out,” obsessed with compulsive negative behavior—and the distinct world present in the conscious mind of quiet inner calm, connected with nature and the spiritual self—and with other humans (and well-loved pets). You owe yourself the opportunity to stay in the here and now and embrace the moment, not the food.
Most often, nobody knows about the insane, chaotic chatter in another individual’s mind—they have no idea the tormented person is in two worlds, the one in which she is pretending to be present and the other in which she is knee deep in an inner struggle, far, far away from the current reality. The goal for us is to step onto the conscious plank of the now—not yesterday or tomorrow, or the fabricated story running amuck in the mind.
Over and over again, patients tell me about the money they’re going to save, the weight they’re going to lose, the book they’re going to write, or the business plan they want to ignite. But in many instances, the plans and dreams keep being interrupted or dismissed because they are waiting for the right conditions.
When is it the right time?
When is it the right condition?
Don’t fret that the conditions have to be perfect. No such thing as perfect may ever appear. The truth is, you are still going to have to take that first step. If you take it now instead of later, you will be that many steps closer to your ability to handle any event, by making healthy food choices this time next year, after the unknown with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Congratulations, you’ve just taken the first step investing in yourself by reading this blog! You are well on your way… My hope is that what I’ve written helps you to recognize, deal with, and resolve obsessive eating mentality, or drug jonsing, alcohol craving, etc.—and transition to living in a more spiritually oriented realm. If my journey lifts and releases you from the pure hell of destructive obsession frenzy, I will, indeed, have accomplished my goal.
Now is the time to dial down the obsessive food fest frenzy each time you have a crisis or a break from the normal workweek.
The time is now to dive into something constructive moving away from the obsessive tendencies whether it’s drinking, drugging, gambling, womanizing, or plain old binge eating.
Are you falling into your addiction during this trying time? Or maybe you are staying strong and abstaining from your “drug” of choice, how are you staying so strong? Your positive steps of healthy living in all times is valuable, please share so we can learn from you.
Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.