I’ve made a couple discoveries over the past few months as I’ve worked towards losing some weight, the most important and most recent being how to ditch my 5 PM feeding frenzy. The 5 PM feeding frenzy has haunted me for years. I literally don’t remember a time after college that I didn’t waltz through the door from work (or crawl, or limp, whatever) and beeline straight for “the corner cupboard” which is the pantry in our house. Potato chips, Tostitos, candy, cookies, no matter. The feeding frenzy was a mindless, calorie-laden ritual. Worst still, it was sometimes — oftentimes — washed down with a glass of wine.
Anyhow. It was something I was completely aware of and absolutely recognized was sabotaging every other positive thing I was doing day-in and day-out, from fruit, to low fat, to all the calories burned running 3, 6, or 16 miles. Still, I didn’t resist. Notice I don’t say couldn’t resist. Didn’t. Some days I didn’t care enough to abstain and others I wasn’t sure how, so I dug in. I know that might sound crazy, but I wasn’t sure what I needed if it wasn’t a calorie-heavy, salty snack. I figured that was just my thing.
It came up at a nutrition appointment recently when Laura showed me a hunger scale and talked through each point on it — from starving to stuffed. Hungry or not isn’t my problem, I told her. I almost never overeat to the point of discomfort. But I do eat for the sake of eating, like during my nightly feeding frenzy.
A-ha, she answered. Are you eating because you’re tired? Bored? Anxious? Angry? Any of those on any given day, I thought to myself, instead answering, Maybe.
She suggested finding an alternative to eating all.the.snacks., instead taking a walk or a bath, reading, or doing yoga. All well and good, I figured, except that now I have a little man on the hip (gratefully! I wouldn’t trade it) and yoga and bubble baths aren’t always conducive. Think about it, she suggested.
So I did.
That night, I hauled through the backdoor, car seat and infant in one arm, two bags and two lunch boxes in the other, cell phone, keys, and work ID clutched precariously on any free fingers. Bags went to the floor, devices on the counter, baby to hip and before even taking off my jacket, I took a look through the infamous corner cupboard.
Already out of the cookies I bought three days earlier, I moved some packages around but then closed the cabinet. Are you tired? Bored? Anxious? Angry? I put my teapot on the stove to boil.
I kicked off my shoes and hung my jacket in the closet, unpacked Henry’s diaper bag, and loaded the kitchen sink with empty bottles and Tupperware, stashing lunch boxes for repacking. The water boiled and I poured a big mug of tea, finishing it with a big splash of milk and two teaspoons of sugar. By the time I settled onto the couch with the baby and had my first sip, I realized I had found my solution.
No matter what I’m feeling, the thing I’m actually looking for is comfort. Calm. Something familiar and comforting helps to unwind, detangle, release, and relax.
Since that revelation, the frenzy has basically vanished. Instead, I come home and relax — like actually relax, not just gorge on Lays relax or take the edge off with wine — enjoy some time with the baby, spend a little while in the kitchen cooking, and then sit down with Nik and truly taste and savor dinner.
Unlike three or five or six cookies or half a bag of chips, it’s satisfying.
Any other evening noshers out there? Do you give in or have your own solution? Share!