lessons from a girl scout cookie overdose

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I have a dining room full of girl scout cookies right now. My business-minded seven-year old is thriving under the prospect of selling all 90 boxes, counting the money she has collected and the boxes she has left to sell, and wondering about what event her troop will spend the money on. It’s been a good lesson in business, counting, collection, customer service and goal setting for her. However, it has not been so good for my waistline. You see, I like to eat sweet things, especially cookies. I always have. Despite having the experience of being sick from eating too many girl scout cookies (thin mints) as a child, I still indulge (though to this day I will not eat chocolate and mint together, in any form). So I stay away from the thin mints, but not the other kinds.

Yesterday, I started my day off with quite a few cookies right after breakfast, and continued a downhill slide into sugar oblivion until the early afternoon. Later in the day I wasn’t feeling so good. I even took a nap on the couch in the afternoon, causing my daughters to wonder aloud “what’s wrong with mom?” Aside from the physical ill effects of eating too much sugar, I was also beating myself up mentally. There have been times in my life when I have struggled with emotional and compulsive eating of sugary foods, but I had thought that I was beyond that.  A few years ago I read the book Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth (which I highly recommend if your relationship with food is not as healthy as it could be). After reading the book, I took a hard look at my relationship with food, especially sweets. I also have done some inquiry as to how the status of my relationships affects my want of sugar.

In the past I would have characterized my overindulgence in sugary foods as a way to run away from emotions that were hard for me to process; I don’t think that was the case yesterday. It was more like revisiting an old habit, in the form of an almost out-of-body experience of not truly living in myself. For each round of cookie eating, I wasn’t really tasting them that much beyond the first cookie, but I was still eating. I wasn’t inhabiting my body and really experiencing the cookies, which would have caused me to eat much slower. Instead it was a mindless rush of sugar ingestion with a certain numbness to it, after which I felt worse than when I’d started, leaving me with the question of “why did I just do that to myself?” The overindulgence seemed to be a way to revisit some old feelings of self-criticism and self-contempt; and I didn’t really like what I found there. I was left feeling empty and not whole. That feeling stuck with me until I went to bed last night.

One of the beautiful things about life is that today is a new day, a new start. And I’m back to feeling whole and loving myself with all my faults. I had one cookie this morning, and stopped at that. And thanks to yesterday, we have that many fewer cookies for which to solicit purchases from our neighbors and friends.

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