This week is a particularly stressful one for me. It is my first week back at work and my kids’ first week back after a two-week long winter break, AND… I’m PMS-ing. ? When I’m in PMS mode, my moderately healthy eating habits go right out the window because I’m tired and grumpy, and I know I “need a break.” At least that’s how I justify things in my head.
Tonight I got home from work around 6pm and started cooking dinner for the kids. Tacos. It’s fast, easy, and a favorite! As I browned the ground beef and allowed all three boys to talk at me me about school, my mind wandered as I fantasized about what I was going to eat tonight. My husband wouldn’t be home until around 9pm, so I had the TV and our cozy bed all to myself. NICE!
Then I remembered that we had a tupperware full of leftover potatoes au gratin that I’d made for NYE. Perfect! Thinly sliced potatoes, heavy cream, garlic, butter, and cheese… it was my food fantasy come true!
So I finished serving the boys their dinners and dumped the entire quart of cheesy-potato goodness in a giant soup bowl. I was already picturing myself lying in bed with the bowl on my chest and scooping massive spoonfuls of cheesy-potatoes in my mouth, followed by passing out immediately afterwards. Yes, I know this sounds completely gluttonous, but it’s my dirty little ritual around this time of the month. ??
As I made my way to the microwave though, my unwelcomed voice of reasoning chimed in and asked, “Why are you really eating this?” My id-brain shot back with, “Because I always crave salt when I’m PMS-ing… duh!” This is indeed true. It was normal for me to crave salty foods during this time of the month, and therefore justifiable in my mind. Plus, my cravings naturally stop on their own the week after, so no harm, no foul. Right?
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t limit the types of foods I eat or shy away from carbs by any means. In fact, I had just eaten these same potatoes au gratin less than a week ago on NYE. However, that time was much different from now. At that time, there was no craving or emotion attached to the potatoes. I wasn’t eating the potatoes in an attempt to make myself feel better or less stressed.
Plus, if I was really craving salt due to PMS, I had some celery and hummus in the fridge that I could lie in bed and munch on too. Somehow though, celery didn’t seem nearly as appealing as my creamy potatoes au gratin did. Celery and hummus didn’t offer same warm fuzzies as cheese and potatoes. *sigh*
I finally asked myself those useful “What IF?” questions that the id part of my brain had been avoiding since I got home from work:
What IF you didn’t use PMS-ing as a reason to overeat today?
What IF you’re not even craving salt?
What IF you’re really craving the brief escape that eating spoonfuls of greasy food gives you from the fatigue and moodiness you’re currently feeling?
Several months ago, I decided that I no longer wanted to depend on food or alcohol to numb my feelings or quell my anxiety. In fact, it was one of the major issues that I wanted to work through for the year 2020. Although I’ve come a long way, and have gotten better at calling myself out on BS justifications for emotional eating, it continues to be a work-in-progress. And I’m OK with that. In fact, I’m ready to take my beliefs and “What IF?” questions to the next level in 2021, and am excited to see what comes from it.
Side Note: In case you’re curious, I ended up eating a small bowl of caldo tlalpeño (chicken & veggie chipotle soup), 2 crunchy beef tacos, a bowl of guacamole with shrimp, and tortilla chips. Although these foods were also salty and delicious, I chose them over the potatoes au gratin simply because I didn’t feel an emotional pull towards them. I still plan on eating my cheesy potato goodness, just not when I’m depending on them to make me feel better.