At this point I am not feeling very triggered by old foods anymore, although I feel there are “phantom triggers” lurking around old spots where I used to binge/overeat/comfort eat. They sometimes call out to me in these faint little voices.

Yesterday I was at this mall and kind of stressed out because I went into Sephora, the huge makeup store. I am SO NOT a “makeup” kind of person but the day before I was at a different mall and on a whim, I got myself made up at another makeup place.  The next morning morning I realized I did not own any makeup remover of any kind, and realizing I’d have to go BUY some annoyed me and stressed me out.  So I went to Sephora to buy said makeup remover and the whole place – with its million products, just freaked me out and made me feel ugly (unless I buy at least 100 products).  So when I left, I headed over to the cupcake store across the way. This place has offered me a lot of solace in the past. I didn’t go in. I just stood and looked in the window. I remembered how I’d go in there and get a cupcake or a huge, warm snickerdoodle cookie.

Jokingly, I Twittered “Talk me down!” and amazingly, it worked. As soon as I put it out there that I wanted a cupcake, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I just couldn’t imagine then typing, “Sorry too late!” and admitting to the whole Twittersphere (800 followers!) that I’d succumbed. It helped me keep walking, and go into the bookstore. I got an iced coffee. I felt better.

These geographic reminders are everywhere. It’s kind of sad that no matter where I am in about a 20 mile radius, I can point out a place where in the past, I would have beelined for a specific food to use for comfort or stress-reliever. But of course they would increase my stress over 200% because of the immediate guilt and disgust I’d feel right after. It’s taken me a long time to truly understand on a deep level, how the thing that SEEMED to be comforting would produce the polar opposite sensation.

When I was driving home, I passed a Jack in the Box. I remember the many years I used to teach at night at the nearby University. I’d rush to class without dinner, because I’d be prepping until the last second. The class would get me all jacked up on adrenaline. When I got out at 10pm, I’d be starving, exhausted and amped up.  I started going to Jack in the Box because it was on my route home, it was easy and it was also one of the few places open that late. I’d go to the drive through. At first I’d get Teriyaki chicken bowl. That was sorta healthy although wayyyy too much rice and gloppy teriyaki sauce. But then one night the bacon-cheddar-potato wedges caught my eye and that was that. I started ordering them (760 calories, 53g of fat) as a SIDE to my chicken teriyaki bowl (585 calories, 1461g of sodium!!).

This happened pretty much every week. For years.

Sigh.

When I pass JIB now, I feel sad remembering that. Really sad. Of course what was really going on was that I was hungry (duh) and anxious, wondering if the class had gone well, and overstimulated and all sorts of things. It would have been so much better to make sure I ate before class. To talk to my friend/colleague about class, or write it down. But I just didn’t have those internal resources or any awareness that there was another way of doing things. I just kept driving through, feeling icky and guilty, and the pounds packed on, and well, it’s not hard to see how.

I see these places all around me, and it’s kind of crazy the way a visual image of those foods will just float up like a transparent photograph, when I pass by. They don’t hold the same kind of charge, and I don’t REALLY feel the same pull, but it’s a sad kind of nostalgia as well as regret.

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