A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Eating to soothe social anxiety

on September 24, 2014

In my twenties, when I gained the majority of my weight, I was in the midst of horrible struggles with social anxiety. I had a paralyzing fear of being in social situations and couldn’t force myself to get over it. The only people I really interacted with were people I knew from before college, before this started, or people I worked with one on one for long periods of time. I can remember so many times I would get dressed to go to a party with classmates, only to be unable to actually leave my house. I’d get so frustrated with myself I’d eat and cry and eat some more. Sigh. It’s gotten a lot better over the years, thankfully, but I still get a little panicky anytime I’m put in a situation where I have to make conversation with people I don’t know well.

Last night, I got asked to come to an event where we were supposed to talk to students about finding work-life balance and how to make decisions to get from where they are in school to where I am now. That part of things was okay. Somehow I’ve reached the age in my life where I get asked to talk about that a lot. I was told that there would be pizza, which I was a little wary of just because stress is making my stomach a little sensitive these days and I didn’t want to set things off by eating pizza, which my system definitely isn’t used to anymore.

My snack before I headed out to the dinner, so I wouldn't be starving and tempted to eat too much pizza!

My snack before I headed out to the dinner, so I wouldn’t be starving and tempted to eat too much pizza!

What I was not expecting was the blast of that same old social anxiety when I showed up and there was the little mix and mingle before dinner, and then with dinner. All of the students of course knew each other and knew the other faculty members and I was this unknown in the midst. I could have ameliorated that by introducing myself and then I would have had something to talk about because I’d have to explain who I was and what I was doing there, etc. I didn’t think of that though. Instead I just stood there not sure where to go or what to do. Sigh.

At least now I know better than to try to eat to soothe that feeling. If hungry isn’t the problem, food is not the answer, right? I made healthy dinner choices (it wasn’t pizza after all!) and then just kept a glass of iced tea with me the rest of the evening so I had something to do with my hands. Eventually, the more focused career advice part started and that was a little easier because I know what I’m supposed to say. The small talk after the official program broke up also wasn’t bad because at that point, the students are all coming up to me and wanting to know more about me because I sound very interesting when I do these kinds of talks. πŸ™‚

By the time I left, I was so spent. I’m very introverted, so doing something like that where I have to expend so much social energy (which feels like a thousand times more work on the days the social anxiety rears its ugly head) just exhausts me. I wished I had a run on the schedule for the night so I could recharge a bit. Β I was incredibly tempted by the leftover goodies I was bringing home from the event for Darrell:

 

Anytime I have to do a work thing after hours, I try to bring a treat home for Darrell to make up for a night of solo parent duty. :)

Anytime I have to do a work thing after hours, I try to bring a treat home for Darrell to make up for a night of solo parent duty. πŸ™‚

I’m proud of myself for resisting that, although I did inhale a healthier snack as soon as I got home even though I knew it wasn’t a physical hunger I was feeling.

I’m proud that I didn’t let my anxiety lead me to making food choices I’d regret. In particular, keeping my little cup of iced tea in my hand all evening gave me something to keep me busy and distracted. Instead of binging on something when I got home, I wrote here and got a healthy snack and went to bed at a reasonable hour. All in all, much healthier than those dark olden days.

Do you get tempted to eat when you’re nervous? How do you handle it?

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7 responses to “Eating to soothe social anxiety

  1. 29stepstome says:

    Kudos to you for making the healthier choice…over, and over, and over.

  2. Great job resisting the food temptations!! I love what you said about not solving problems with food unless hunger is the problem itself.

    When I am nervous about something my stomach is usually churning and I get nauseous just thinking about food lol

  3. Kristin says:

    Awesome going! You’re wonderful!! Such a beautiful, honest post!! I can be very shy in social settings, too and you’re right- it really takes a lot out of you. Fabulous job!! XOXO!!

  4. […] not to have to squeeze in a workout as I had that after-work career development function to attend. Wrangling my nerves was enough of a workout […]

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