On the surface it seems like such a superficial waste of time, which of course it kind of is. But just because it’s superficial and time wasting doesn’t mean that I’m not benefiting from it.
When I'm helping women end diet-binge cycling, emotional eating, and body image issues we spend a lot of time talking about “oblivions”…how we end up in big black holes filled with peanut butter cups when we’re stressed and not taking care of ourselves.
Oblivions are little built-in vacations from the chaotic and overwhelming pace of our lives. We all have them and we need them. Oblivions save us in the same way a pressure relief valve keeps a highly pressurized system from exploding: it lets off steam.
Meaning, people who diet are much more likely to have an oblivion that involves an entire pizza and a box of donuts. There are many proposed theories as to why that might be true but it seems to me that if you spend your entire day trying to NOT eat, or trying to manipulate the type of food you put in your body, that when you need to blow off steam and let it all go, you’re going to find yourself at the bottom of a bag of potato chips.
Normal (I use that word loosely) eaters have lots of oblivions: they love cat videos and country music and roller-skating. Which is why I’m not too concerned when I find myself temporarily obsessed with the Real Housewives or Drake memes on Instagram. I just recognize it for the amazing thing that it is – me, de-stressing, without turning to food.
[Note: turning to food occasionally when you’re stressed is no big deal. Totally normal. But years ago it was my go-to and so this is a huge step in recovering from food restriction and the resulting over-eating/emotional eating it triggers. Yay!]
Try this exercise I learned from Geneen Roth, years ago : Make a list of your “other oblivions”.
Hint: true oblivions are often so juicy and embarrassing that you don’t want to admit to them …..Do you Internet stalk that adorable doctor from The Atlantic? Perfect. Do you get lost in trashy chick-lit? Great. Are you obsessed with those Kardashian make-up contouring tutorials? That’s the good stuff, write it down.
There’s a lot involved in quitting the diet-binge/emotional eating cycle but knowing that you have other ways to nourish yourself, well, that’s a good start.
P.S. Do you know what self-trust really is?