Overeating is a First World Problem (and how that might actually be a good thing)

12-22-15 blog post coverThese are a few things I’ve found myself getting pissy about the last few weeks:

  • I went to unload the dishwasher only to realize that I had forgotten to run it the night before and it still contained dirty dishes.
  • We ordered new LED battery operated Christmas candles for our windows (that were highly rated on Amazon) and when they arrived they didn’t come with batteries. We finally got batteries and turned them on and they were so dim you couldn’t even see that there were candles in the window.
  • I’m finally all caught up on my DVRs of The Walking Dead, only to realize that it’s the mid-season finale and I’m going to have to wait until February to watch it again. Grrr!
  • I was thawing a 7lb local pasture raised chicken in cold water all day, only to find out when it was time to start cooking that it was still frozen inside. I had to cook the thing for way way too long to ensure the entire bird had reached a safe temp, so most of the meat was dry and stringy.
  • It’s been so mild out (in the 40’s and 50’s) that I’ve been waking up in a ball of sweat because I’m using my usual winter bedding (flannel sheets and a down comforter) anyway.
  • I desperately need a massage (my hamstrings are a mess from barre & weight lifting) but my massage therapist isn’t available at a time when it’s convenient for me.

These are all #firstworldproblems, these are the problems of someone who is privileged.

A couple of months ago I was out with friends and I found myself complaining about having to find a new hair stylist as mine had recently moved to Houston (and I had been going to her since 2007). They all laughed. No matter how traumatic getting your hair cut or colored by someone new can be, it certainly is a “problem” many would rather have instead of the problems they are dealing with. While I’ve had my share of struggles and heartache over the years, the problems I have at the moment are REALLY not a big deal.

It’s all about perspective.

The fact that I have a dishwasher at all, when there are others who don’t even have clean water to drink or that I have dishes that need washing – that means I’ve been fed and my tummy is full.  That I have dim candles to return to Amazon, means I have a home to display them in. That I’m caught up on my binge-watching of the Walking Dead,  means that I have free time to relax and watch TV (and can afford cable & DVR). That my pasture raised chicken was still frozen, means that I have food to eat and even more so, that we’re well enough off that I can afford pasture raised animals. That I’m waking up in a ball of sweat due to too many blankets in these temps, means that I have a warm place to live and comfy place to sleep. That I even have a massage therapist and that I have barre classes to make my hamstrings sore, means that my basic financial needs are met and then some, leaving me a little extra money to use on these things.

I have it really good right now.

For the most part, I keep things in perspective. I know how good I have it and I’m supremely grateful for everything in my life but even when things are going well, it’s easy to find things that upset, annoy, frustrate or anger us and I’m no stranger to falling in with that.

One of the largest #firstworldproblems that I’ve ever had was being overweight. Overeating. Bingeing. Worrying about losing weight. Dieting. This problem has taken up a huge chunk of my brain’s energy over the years.

But, as much as overeating and being overweight is a real problem to the person dealing with it, it is, at it’s core, a problem that can only happen because we have access to lots of fresh food to eat and we have the security and safety afforded to us to live sedentary lives. I  know that sounds harsh. But isn’t it true on some level?

When you get upset that you binged your way through the pantry, at least you have food in your pantry to eat. When you’re pissed that you ate 300 extra calories today, at least you are financially fortunate enough to have excess calories available to you. When the scale reads higher than you’d like, that you even have the emotional bandwidth available to worry about your weight is a fortunate thing.

The next time you get worked up about something you’ve eaten, can you take a minute to put it in perspective?

What else are people suffering with around you? Chronic illness? Death of a loved one? Loss of job or home?

What about people elsewhere? There is war and sadness and atrocities everywhere. You don’t have to look that hard to find something to give you perspective.

I’m not saying that the problems we have with food and our bodies aren’t valid (they are) or that they are easy (they’re not) or that we should feel bad for feeling the way we do (feel those feelings). Obviously I think they are important or I wouldn’t be doing coaching work (which if I’m honest is a first world profession that helps people with first world problems!).

These are our lives, our problems do matter to us even if they would seem trivial to an outsider. It’s all relative. If something stops you in your tracks, if it’s preventing you from being who you want to be or accomplishing things you want to accomplish, if it’s interfering with your relationships etc – it is important. But . . . it’s also helpful to look at our struggles with a big picture view because in it, there might be a way out.

If your weight, body or food issue is a problem that others wished they had and you think others would look at your struggle with envy or think you are frivolous, maybe that’s one step in making it less of a big deal for you.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to heal from food issues is because we put so much emphasis on what it says about us. We make it into this huge thing that defines us. We believe that it’s impossible to fix. Thinking negatively about ourselves and beating ourselves up, leads to more eating, more struggle, more pain.  But, if our “problem” (being overweight, overeating etc) really isn’t that big a deal in the scheme of things, then maybe it doesn’t have to be that big of a deal to us?

Bear with me here, I’m just kind of figuring this out as I write and I won’t be saying this very eloquently.

What if, by looking at your problem briefly through the lens of someone with less privileged problems, your problem wouldn’t seem like such a big deal? If it’s not such a big deal, maybe you could be kinder to yourself? Perhaps you’d have less negative thoughts about your body, your actions, your habits? And in doing so, you’d overeat less often (by now you know that the more shitty we feel about ourselves, the more we turn to food).

The more power we give our food issues, the more strength it has to sabotage us. If we step back for a second and look at it with a different perspective, maybe we can take some of it’s power away.

The fact that overeating is a “first world problem” could be your very way out of it’s clutches. Try looking at your life with a little perspective and take some pressure off of yourself. Can you lighten up about your struggles? If not, why can’t you? What benefit is being so “serious” about your food issues bringing you?

There’s no judgement from me in those questions. I promise. I have to ask them of myself sometimes too (did you see my silly list above??). Curiosity is one path to getting out of this shit. Let’s not make things a bigger deal than they are. Wishing you, perspective, levity and kindness.

Are you on my email? You totally should be. I only send out content related to body image, weight loss, emotional eating and healthy lifestyle swaps. I say inappropriate things and the shit you are already thinking. Sign up here (you’ll get a free ebook download too).





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