What would happen if you just agreed to be present with your eating experiences, especially when involved in an overeating experience that feels uncontrollable.
This was the experiment I proposed to someone facing a weekend of planned overindulgence at a bachelorette party. “Just be present, no matter what is happening.” Overeating, drinking too much: that is what “girl’s weekends” have been like for her in the past. At the end of those weekends, she could always predict how physically toxic she would feel.
Here’s what happened this time, with a new attitude:
I survived the weekend! I think our experiment was quite successful, but not in the way that I expected (surprise!). I found that Friday before I went I was really anxious, but I did get in a yoga class and ate well through the day. Friday night there was snacking and drinking, but I didn’t go crazy, and was able to walk away from the snack table! There was a late night pizza order, but instead of having many pieces, I just had one.
Saturday I was tuned in to what I was eating, and did end up not feeling so well – upset stomach. So I guess I didn’t catch myself quite early enough the day before, but I was able to identify that I didn’t want to keep feeling like that, so I stopped eating and drinking.
Sunday is usually my “wallowing” day after an event like this – where I beat myself up and have the negative self talk and end up saying screw it and ordering a pizza. But it didn’t happen this time! I think by acknowledging that it wasn’t “bad” to eat and drink I headed off the shame tornado. I still ate the leftover cheese and crackers all day – but I didn’t leave my house for junk food or order anything to fill that void. I made some jewelry (hobby) and I took a bath.
Today I got up and went to my 5:30am workout class. I meditated and I started my week fresh, without all of the guilt. What very well could have been a three-day hangover didn’t happen! This let me do something mentally that really worked. I’m not quite sure how to explain it but taking a look from the outside made this lifestyle something I could manage rather than going completely off the rails and having to recover.
This is real progress. Even a conscious binge is better than an unconscious one, because it sets a new thought process in motion – even if the same amount of food is eaten. I love the phrase “taking a look from the outside.” That is what a non-judgmental attitude can feel like. It is not all wound up in emotion and habit.
The big surprise here is that she went into the weekend expecting to just be aware of the overeating and excessive drinking, but she actually ended up not needing to be so excessive. That is a real learning experience.