When’s the Last Time You ENJOYED a Meal?

Bowl of oatmeal with strawberries
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The oatmeal shown above was my breakfast today. Nothing fancy, except I’m not at home. However, the way I ate it was night and day from my usual breakfast ritual (or lack thereof). BTW, Since I limit my dairy due to voice work, I top my oatmeal with applesauce or berries.

Food and Depression

I’ve been writing A LOT about depression lately. Not surprising, since this blog and podcast is a diary, and I’ve had a whoppin’ big bout of depression, I think now, for about the last three months. Three Months! How can THAT be? You’ve been off to Ventura and Solvang and having adventures and writing and voice acting and doing all KINDS of fun and exciting things? You live in SUNNY California, not drizzly-grey Washington, not frozen places. You don’t have the 9-5 grind any longer. Your hubby is sweet and thoughtful. Your cat came back. What the HECK do YOU have to be depressed about?

Aye, there’s the rub. I’ve been depressed, and GUILTY AS HELL for it! Depression, as I’ve already written and said at length, last show, is NOT about your blessings, lack of blessings, or how good of a person you are.

I should clarify. When I say I have had depression for at least three months, I mean clinical depression. I can have situational depression, which is some of the same feelings, but temporary and has a cause. Believe you me I had a situational depression after my SUPREMELY failed, first go at character voice in voice acting class. I felt worthless, despondent, wanted to pull the covers over my head etc., but it only lasted a day or two. Then I shook it off, girded on my bravery and went back to intuitively living my life.

Clinical depression doesn’t give a rat’s ass how great your life is. It is chemically based and can be made worse by situations, attitude, lack of exercise, too many junk food self-medication sessions, or too much booze, which IS a depressant and other factors.

You can’t always tell right away – especially if you are a natural born Eeyore, like me.

That’s why I posted the list of symptoms as the resource of the day last show.

Anyway, part of Intuitive Eating is slowing down to ENJOY your food. How many times have I spouted off and said, “Don’t eat food you don’t enjoy”? It is the sense of ENJOYMENT that helps you identify the ‘satisfied’ feeling that lets you stop eating before you are stuffed silly and your jeans are pulling across your belly.

When you are depressed, one of the main symptoms is YOU DON’T ENJOY STUFF – including food. You may tell yourself, oh, look at the delicious apple, or steak, or cake, or cream puff or fill in the blank, but the satiety trigger is, at least for me, pretty much shot to heck. You know you SHOULD be savoring this, but you aren’t. So soon automatic behavior sets back in. You shove in food when it is time to eat, or you have a sight trigger, or smell trigger, or uncounsiously you want carbs or sweets to elevate mood. Or you think a drink will make you feel better, or relaxed or take you ‘out of yourself’, because inside your head is the LAST PLACE you wish to be.

And what is MOST surprising to me is to realize as a perfectionist-mask-wearer, that I was wearing an unconscious enjoyment-mask. I knew when I should be having a good time or savoring a bite of food, so like the times I make bad acting choices, I was “play acting” being ok.

Off to Ventura

Laurie and Mark in bike gear - head shots - sun is beginning to sink - on the boardwalk by the Pacific Ocean in Ventura

We snap this double selfie after riding to the restaurant, just prior to dining with our spectacular view of the ocean.

I think Mark realized I needed to get away – heck, after living with moping old me, HE needed to get away. So when I suggested we go back to Ventura for a few days, he was enthusiastic about the idea. That should have tipped me off to how he viewed my mood, because my darling hubby, though he usually comes around, is NEVER enthusiastic. His highest praise is usually telling me something is “OK”.

We checked into the hotel and Mark didn’t even leave the car and bikes. I did the paperwork, took our bag to the room and quickly changed into bike gear. Mark’s great idea was for us to ride and dine in between lunch and dinner, and then have a sunset ride all along the beach bike path (about 10 miles round trip).

Accidental Mindfulness

We always ask for a table at this beautiful restaurant where we can see our locked bikes, as thievery has been an issue around the boardwalk. This time we got the prime corner table with astounding ocean views just as the sun was starting to descend and paint the waves with hints of orange and melting pink.

We decided to have large drinks of water along with some Mai Tais, as they make excellent ones there. Because I am into food and cocktail and/or wine pairing, I scanned the menu for something that would compliment the fruity Mai Tai, and allow me to enjoy sipping it. Voila! Teriyaki Filet Mignon kabobs over wild rice pilaf and a fresh house salad.

For some reason, the atmosphere, the deliciousness of the food, the way the drink was calling me to enjoy its flavor vs. knocking it back, the way Mark and I were conversing and allowing companionable silence and sharing, just accidentally moved me into unconsciously falling into mindfulness and Intuitive Eating behaviors. I took my time with each bite. I chewed it thoroughly, not because of a rule, but because the flavor was SO marvelous, I didn’t want it to end. I put the fork down to better watch the sun as it fell. I paid attention to Mark. Our dinner lasted a long time. My one Mai Tai lasted long enough, that I didn’t even feel tipsy after dinner as it metabolized along the way. My only feeling was contentment. I didn’t think about my size, the calories, or even the fuel value for the ride. My only thought was joy and gratitude for the experience.

Glowing orange-pink sun sinks into the purple ocean

Just one of the spectacular vistas we enjoyed on our ride after dinner.

Mindfulness can spill over

We did ride all along the beach and it was spectacular. I took a few photos and videos with my phone for IG, and you can see them at LaurieDreamWeaver. But I didn’t make a project out of it. Mark took some too, and made me laugh with my modeling experience with him. you can see his photos on Instagram at MarkEWeaver.

This morning as Mark slept, I celebrated my good night’s rest and excellent morning hunger, by going up to the breakfast room here at the hotel. There is a buffet with an array of food possibilities, but I checked in with my hunger levels, not wanting to be too full later for a good lunch. I decided to have my usual. Oatmeal and berries, and a few cups of decaf coffee with a splash of regular.

During this solo meal, I noticed I was unconsciously mimicking last night’s behavior. I spent time enjoying the look of the fresh berries. I tasted each bite. I stopped when satisfied vs. stuffed, and for the first time in a long time, I enjoyed the companion of my dining companion. Me.

Comments box:

8 thoughts on “When’s the Last Time You ENJOYED a Meal?

  1. Amy from WI

    How wonderful that you were able to feel a bit more like yourself and less like a depressed shell. That’s how I feel when depressed….like I am just a shell with the inside missing. I only hope that you continue to feel better.

    God bless!

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Amy, you SO nailed that feeling. That’s it exactly. A tired, slow, robot alien, at best, is wearing your skin, while the feeling you is elsewhere. I didn’t realize how much I have NOT been myself, until the last day or two, where I have felt more like me again. Xoxoxoxoxoxox and hugs for your encouragement and understanding.

  2. Cassie

    Laurie, I can’t even tell you how important your brilliant insight is to me. You speak to my soul. Thank you.
    You’re still my hero!

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Ahh Cassie, and I can’t even tell you how important YOUR support is to me. You help me be brave and tell it all, good and bad. You help me accept myself as a whole person. It has been such a privilege to share with you.(And I’m so HAPPY that I know at least ONE bc is reading my daily bravery tweet) xoxoxoxoxoxox

  3. Cheryl

    First off, OMG! Applesauce on oatmeal! I never thought about that. I don’t put milk on mine at all. Generally I’ll throw in some thawed cranberries and add a little Splenda. But applesauce. What a cool thing. I’ll be trying that first thing in the morning.

    Secondly, when you were talking about situational depression and not enjoying food, my ding-ding dinger went off again. You know HL and I have really been struggling to get things sorted out for retirement. We are both feeling very depressed at this point because money is scarce and we’re kind of afraid it will be even more so after he retires. The weird thing is, neither of us can come up with a list of stuff for dinner menus. Everything one or the other of us suggests is like, yuk! But we ARE craving carbs. If I had to make a guess I’d say those two things are closely related for us. The awful part is we’ve taken to eating out a couple times a week just so we don’t have to struggle with a decision of what to cook. I’m SO glad you mentioned this.

    And it does seem like Amy’s right. I see a little bit of the sun peeking out of Laurie’s smile there. That’s good to hear. Don’t rush things, though. Honesty is the best policy. Your healing, your speed.

    The last time I enjoyed a meal was at the girls’ Christmas party. Seems I always enjoy food a lot more when there’s a group of people around. Maybe that’s because I eat slower ’cause my mouth is flapping all the time?

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Hi Cheryl, I hope you got some applesauce for your oatmeal! I love it with some walnuts and cinnemon. I think why you enjoy your meals with people, is because you are focused on the people and having a sense of companionship and fun. (I’m projecting from my experience here). I’m finding when I don’t enjoy my food, because usually, I even enjoy my solo oatmeal, it is a marker that something else is wrong. We know compulsive stuffing of food or out and out bingeing is not about the food itself, but I’m starting to think that much of our eating is not about food – unless we train ourselves to pay attention to it. And this is very difficult when part of our food struggles is to distract – in your case, the retirement question. It IS very scary to face the lack of paycheck and you two are smart to try and work it out before. It is hard when the finances just aren’t there for what you need, let alone what you want. That’s one reason why Mark and I are making more of an effort to enjoy what we have. We are lucky where we live in that we enjoy this area. We are lucky we can still ride bikes. t has taken us a few years to adjust to the energy and stamina we now have vs. what was. Our life, nice as it is, is VERY different from when we were working. Money, purpose, just knowing what day it is…without a job, it is surprisingly easy to forget the day of the week. Also, we don’t have kids and now that my inlaws are both gone, we don’t have family close by. Before, we were so busy all of the time, we didn’t feel this as much. But I think with your new writing exploration you are making a wonderful start at getting in touch with all of your feelings. HL and you may have to find eating solutions like Mark and me. We don’t like much the same. Seafood is his favorite. I love ginger, he hates it. I love casseroles, he hates them. So we make lots of things we can modify to each taste – like making salad bar at home instead of salad, and leaving out some components of soup that can be added later when individual servings are reheated. We do have a few things we both like, so I know what you mean. Hugs and thanks again for your support. I am feeling better, and I’m darn glad I’ve had you through the dark as well as the good days. xoxoxoxox


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