Yesterday, I was able to catch a glimpse of an episode of Oprah’s show, where she featured (read: sold) a book by the name of “Women, Food and God.” I mean, take a look at the commercial above – talk about heavy-handed.
I don’t usually get to watch too much daytime TV because my TV is tuned to The Backyardigans or [insert current Nick Jr. phenom]. However, when I saw the tip from twitter to check the episode out, I couldn’t help but to give it a shot.
If you think the commercial was heavy-handed, you’ll definitely find the episode itself difficult to watch.
I don’t even have to read the book to know that emotional eating is real. The concept of eating your feelings, hiding from your feelings in food, eating to numb the pain… I get it. I’ve been there. I occasionally will slip back there, only to find that food no longer gives me “that feeling” that it used to give me when I was in the height of my bad habits, and that moment – that moment when I realize it’s “not as good as it used to be” – only further reinforces the understanding that I cannot hide in food anymore. Obviously, the whole “hiding in my food” thing happens less and less nowadays for me.
Anyone can write a book these days. Don’t expect each of them to carry some novel Nobel Prize-worthy epiphany, because they wont. For many of the readers of this site, we’re well aware of the importance of making healthy and sound food choices, but what happens when you know what you should be doing, and still don’t? Is it too far fetched to think that maybe – juuuuust maybe – there is something other than laziness at play, here?
That’s where this episode best served its purpose for me. As the old adage goes, “It’s not that people need to be taught, it’s that people need to be reminded.” The book doesn’t appear to contain any epiphanies, but the overarching point of the show spoke to me.
As women, we’re not only expected to put everyone before ourselves (we are society’s caregivers, mind you), but we’re also expected to go out of our way to make sure that we stay skinny while we do it. Nothing of our mental health, nothing of our internal health, nothing of our own happiness. Just look the part… make everyone think [insert arbitrary and, in the long run, meaningless concept]. And unfortunately, trying so hard to look the part results in not only a ton of guilt on us for failing to do so, but it forces us to complete the cycle: what can we turn to in order to make us feel better, happier, and calm without giving us more guilt? Food. The shortsightedness of the cycle, mind you, prevents us from seeing the guilt we feel for having eaten whatever food item we hid within.
And, y’all, that guilt thing? That’s real. I actually took out my pen and took notes from what the women were saying:
“I hate myself for having no self control.”
“I can’t believe I ate that.”
“When I’m eating, it just takes me away from everything..”
Women hiding food in their houses… eating in shame? “I just make a pie crust dough, and eat it out of my tupperware… my husband doesn’t even know I do it.” For real? C’mon. That’s not indulgence. That’s an addiction. Trust me. I know. This is coming from someone who used to hide chips, donuts, those little 4-packs of Starbucks, a small bakery, half a convenient store and perhaps a 2 liter of soda pop to wash it down… all under her bed. You might even find a bottle of ranch dressing in my closet. I’m just sayin’. I know.
That overarching point that spoke to me? Stop guilting yourself, stop shaming yourself and stop coping with both by hiding within food. And if you cannot find a better way to cope? Ask someone. This is mental health awareness month, after all.
I didn’t watch the entire episode so I can’t really speak on the book, but I know that many of you checked it out. What are your thoughts? Are you going to pick up the book? Already read it? Let’s hear it!