This morning on Your Caregiving Journey, Anna Stookey joined me for a discussion called, “Ditching the Doritos.” We talked about how to stop eating your way through a tough time. You can listen to our show via the player below.
We started our conversation with the recognition that eating can be the way we take a break. We’re tired of caregiving. We’re exhausted from phone calls. We’re sick of trying to get help. So, we take a break, just 10 minutes. And, because we’re stuck in the mode of action, we take a break with that bag of Doritos or that candy bar. When we finish the bag or the bar, we feel good—we accomplished something, which is often a feeling not enjoyed in caregiving.
Of course, the problem when we finish the bag or the bar is that soon enough we finish fitting into our clothes.
Anna suggested that we take meaningful breaks, including a break of doing absolutely nothing. Create a list of 20 or 30 ideas of activities you can enjoy during that 10-minute break. Your list may include:
1. Sit outside on the deck.
2. Call a friend.
3. Read a magazine or newspaper.
4. Visit Caregiving.com.
5. Draw a picture (and enter it into our Caregiving Art Show).
6. Take a photo (and enter it into our Caregiving Art Show).
7. Write a story about Help (and submit it for our Help book).
8. Clip coupons.
9. Write in your journal.
Keep your list in a handy spot, so you can refer to it before automatically reaching for the junk food.
We also spoke about the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Anna offers a technique to help you better understand how to gauge your hunger. Describe how you feel when you’re starving (stomach growls, light-headedness, inability to focus). On a hunger scale of 0 to 5, this would be a 5 (the most hungry you’ll feel). Then, consider what a 3 feels like and a 0. When you feel hungry, you can ask yourself, How hungry am I? Give your hunger a number to determine if you need food or some other kind of comfort or release. This is how your eating becomes mindful, a conscious decision.
We closed our show with an acknowledgment of the courage it takes to say “No” to more food or too much food. Often, we learn that eating (and eat too much) is the way we show love for others. We worry that saying “No” to food means we are hurting someone’s feelings. We also may struggle with feeling full from food because we can’t quite feel full in our lives. I think when we can tell ourselves, “I’m enough,” we can feel more confident in saying, “I’m full.”
So, know you are enough. Just as you are. You are enough.
What did you think of our show? What struggles do you have with food? And, what suggestions can you add to our list, above, of activities to enjoy during a break? Please share in our comments section, below.
Program Note: On Tuesday, August 23, at 10:30 a.m. CT (11:30 a.m. ET, 8:30 a.m. PT), we begin our monthly series on managing dementia care. Claire Day, Vice President of Constituent Services for the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter, will join us to share tips and techniques for coping. Listen to both shows here.