Saturday, 8 April 2017

Self-Regulation and Mindless Eating

When I was working full-time I would come home from work and, sometimes before I'd even changed my clothes, I would head to the kitchen for something to eat.  I would often just stand in the kitchen and graze - eating crackers from the box, a slice of cheese, cookies, whatever.....  If you had asked me an hour later what I had to eat, I probably wouldn't have been able to tell you.  It was truly mindless eating, and I look back now and realize I was definitely in the lower right box of the Thayer Matrix  - high stress all day at work and then coming home as a single parent to two busy teenagers.  I have no family here in the city so I was pretty much on my own for dealing with any minor or major issues with the kids, the house, the car, etc. Definitely high tension/low energy by 5 pm.
Recently the urge to snack and the mindless eating have been late at night. I had been looking at those cravings through a self-control lens but I decided this afternoon to try to look at them through a self-reg lens.  At first I thought, you can't be/shouldn't be low energy, high tension, you're retired!  But there are still stresses in life, even when you're retired:
  • after six months of working close to home, my husband has been back to travelling all the time for work since early January.  He is usually gone from early Monday morning to late Friday night, and sometimes longer if there are flight delays, etc.  This means I'm in charge of anything that goes wrong with the car, the house, etc unless it can wait till the weekend
  • since I'm retired and hubby's away at work and my kids are both away at university/college, I'm alone a lot more and that's stressful.  I volunteer, and I meet friends for lunch and all of that, but compared to when I was working, I'm still adjusting to the reduction in social contact in retirement
  • being alone at night is more stressful than during the day.  Our house is old and there are weird noises at night!
  • my mom passed away in December 2014 and there is some residual stress from that to deal with
  • my dad is on his own and has some health and mobility issues.  I'm fortunate that my dad also has support from my brothers and sisters-in-law, but there is the stress of making sure he is taken care of - shopping for groceries, cooking meals, running errands, paying bills, and worrying about his mental and physical well-being.  Every time the phone rings and I see his number come up, I hope it's not someone calling to tell me the ambulance is on the way.  It's happened before; it will likely happen again.
  • all the fun physical stresses of menopause - hot flashes, night sweats, slower metabolism, insomnia
  • I submitted the first draft chapter of a book to a publisher who said he'd get back to me in a week.  It's been three weeks.  He must hate it. What was I thinking?
  • studying for my doctorate online through Western.  It's starting to get real, the courses are getting harder, there's so much more writing, I have to defend next spring.  What if I fail?  What was I thinking?
Funny how I am getting better at looking at other people's behaviour with 'soft eyes' but sometimes have a hard time doing that for myself.  I really thought - you're retired, you shouldn't have stressors. I wonder how often people think, 'he's only in kindergarten.  He can't have stress.'  
Anyway this reflection today was very timely since I was beating myself up last night for giving in to my cravings. After eating healthy all day, at about 9 pm I had a glass of red wine and ate a very large Hershey Kiss that I bought as a Christmas stocking stuffer for my husband.  Since he hasn't eaten it by now, I'm hoping he forgot about it.  Change 'son' to 'husband' and this may be my life when he gets home!

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