If you have ever had a belief that food offers comfort then you may relate to my struggle to NOT eat and comfort myself with food.
In my 44 years of helping people as either a nurse’s aide or a nurse I have collected many stressful working days. People have died, suffered, yelled, cried, hit, and spit in front of me. I frequently hurt my back and routinely went without meals and pee breaks. I have seen co-workers get physically assaulted, cry, be humiliated, endure censure, not get credit for their excellent work, and do what ever needed doing to get the job done for their patients. Nurses routinely work with headaches, backaches, a sick child at home, low-wages, and a complete lack of gratification from co-workers, physicians, administration, and patients.
How do we shrug all this negativity off? How do we complete the transition from the often-brutal physical and mentally exhausting work environment to our completely different home environment? I have habitually done it by comforting myself with food.
But can I call food a comfort or a friend if it puts fat on my body? Nope. I need to care for myself better than that!
I do not have much mind power left after work. I love my job and the people I work with on a daily basis. I rarely encountered any of the situations I listed in the above paragraph at my current job. But work is still very physical, extremely challenging, and requires frequent intense concentration and mindfulness to keep our patients safe, physicians happy, and the work flowing forward. We do this for eight or more hours and then go to our second home jobs with very little willpower, ability to concentrate, or energy left over!
With this in mind I am going to make my transition from work to home easier. Instead of beating myself up for wanting to eat right after work I will allow myself to eat WHEN my primitive brain wants. I am going to consciously allow my emotional “hunger” from my primitive brain to eat as soon as I get home. However, my primitive brain needs to follow these steps I planned ahead of time:
- Prep food on my meal plan
- No tasting during meal preparation
- Eat sitting at the table
- No distractions while eating
- Ask myself with each bite if a food is still giving me pleasure
- If a food is no longer pleasurable then stop eating it
- Wrap up leftover food or throw away
I am planning ahead of time to give my primitive brain the instant gratification of prepping and eating food. But then I do the more important work of focusing on not overeating the meal!
Am I just giving my inner toddler the candy it wants? Or am I being kind to myself?
I am choosing to think I am being kind! And being kind to ourselves is the best form of self-care.