I've had lots of stress lately--plumbing problems, financial stuff, relationship stuff. I have managed to keep abstaining from sweets during this bout of stress, but it's not easy. The stress triggers urges to give in and have something so I can feel pleasure, escape, relax (and make the urges themselves go away--the biggest and most immediate drive behind this whole cycle). Pleasure and comfort are in very short supply these days without my favorite junk foods.
Every option seems difficult. I outlined it in my last post. Eating sweets moderately is difficult and requires a lot of energy and willpower. Abstaining from them is difficult. Binging and overeating are difficult ways to live too, for different reasons. All of these options are difficult, but some of them lead to worse outcomes than the others, so I have to make my choice with that in mind.
Sometimes I wish there was brain surgery available that could remove or "wipe clean" the neural pathways that make sugar, binging, and food such a big freaking deal to me. Because rewiring my brain through hundreds of daily decisions and actions is so damn hard. Often I feel like I'm not making any progress and then I start to doubt whether lasting change is even possible. I believe I can change my behavior, sure, but will the incessant whining in my head for MORE MORE MORE ever cease? I wonder if I will be white-knuckling it to the grave, alternating between sheer willpower and mindfulness practices to get through my days without overeating or eating lots of sugary junk. Both willpower and mindfulness take a ton of energy and effort, at least for me, so I question the sustainability of that.
IF the mindfulness stuff becomes more like second nature, though, MAYBE things will get a bit easier. I found a Thursday night insight meditation group in my area and attended the meeting last week. I really liked it. I've been meditating on my own (inconsistently) and reading extensively on the topic of Buddhism for months now, sorting through different schools, ideas, and practices so I can piece together something that works for me. I think I've rejected more aspects of Buddhism than I've embraced; I'm not one for orthodoxy or pre-scientific nonsense and feel no need to become more aligned with irrelevant Tibetan/Japanese/Sri Lankan/(fill in the blank) cultural trappings. I'm a secular westerner that's influenced by Buddhism rather than a Buddhist influenced by secular western thought, that much is certain. But the parts of Buddhism that make sense to me are becoming really important to my life.
No one would be more surprised than me if my lifelong food and weight woes brought me to a satisfying spiritual life around the age of 30. It was my search for binge eating disorder help that led me to Vipassana (insight) meditation, and Vipassana led me to consider Buddhism as a whole. I've never HAD a spiritual life before now.
Maybe that's part of the problem.