I saw, I cried, I ate
FROM COFFEE TO COCKTAILS - Celine Lopez () - October 24, 2010 - 12:00am

In 2007 I developed ulcers. Nexium is my friend now. It happens when I don’t get to write an article on time, submit one that my editor sagely rejects, when I misbehave at home or when I get my Amex bill. Stress is a mofo.

Three things give me the Carpenters: death, debt and heartbreak.

At first I just can’t eat. You can put a Peter Luger steak with Magnolia buttercream frosting on top of it and I’ll just rearrange it Ikebana style with my utensils. I will be so out of it that I won’t even understand what’s going on in the latest episode of Jersey Shore. I will stare at a magazine page for an hour and just obsess on how great it would be to romantically kiss another cigarette. Forget books and having conversations; the ceiling becomes the most fascinating thing for me at that moment.

When I’m all OD’d (Over Delilah-ed) out, then the tummy plays. The screensaver’s off and the food games begin! I don’t prey on alcohol when I’m in this state. I guess that’s why I stay away from it even in times of joy. It always, inevitably, leads to some disaster. So stop scratching the wound.

I’m impatient and this emotional Guantanamo can lead the mind to an analysis paralysis state. So if you’re thinking of very dark thoughts it always helps to just think of food. Oprah does it and now she has her own channel. When this is all over there is the treadmill or Marie France. You’ll be fabulous again.

When we felt bad Mom used to give us a glass of milk. She also gave us a cookie when we were good. I guess this is where it all starts.

Dysfunctional eating usually starts with something sweet. Something I would eat when I was younger, when my only problem was how to roller skate or con my parents that I still believed in Santa Claus. I love half-melted strawberry ice cream, diet coke, cupcakes and curly top chocolates. Usually all together.

The sugar rush tells me its all going to be okay. It tells me I am Diane Von Furstenberg, everyone loves me and I will have that Time magazine cover. I think about all the things that I will do and then I crave another Marlboro and that’s when the sugar cookie crumbles... quite literally.

The sugar crash is so Anna Nicole Smith. The cupcakes and co. make themselves evident in the Sharpei-like folds that are already forming in my midsection. My hours and cash spent on Pilates lessons go down the drain along with my self-esteem. I feel so stressed that I can’t even cry. Then I start thinking what’s in the refrigerator.

Yes, savory meals made out of chemicals usually do it for me. Has anyone ever felt the euphoric effects of Palm Corned Beef where the ingredients sound like they belong in hairspray? Add rice, Lucky Me noodles and mix. Yes, it does look like my brain, and it does taste so delicious.

Cheap spaghetti is also something to reckon with in times of trouble. I remember when an Italian friend screamed upon having a bite from the legendary and almost soothing (before Prozac there was Pancake House) benefits of their sweet spaghetti. What do the Italians know about being D? They just make love and eat pizza. We have been colonized for hundreds of years and have daily traffic that beats the length of the Great Wall of China; we know enough to appreciate sweet spaghetti.

I have a heart and a mind that are in a constant state of strife. Food is the only thing they agree on. Experts say that when you’re emotionally eating or having the very un-PC label “fattening feelings,” they urge you to keep a journal. While that is all well and good, it’s like communism: good in theory, bad in practice. How can I even think of having a journal when I can’t even get past reading In Style?

I read on an emotional eaters website where you can find enlightenment:

“Go to a room where you’ll be alone and uninterrupted (put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door and turn off the telephone ringer) for at least one hour. On one or more sheets of paper, write the name of every person or animal (living or deceased, personally known or unknown to you) who has ever irritated or infuriated you. Start with whatever name comes to mind, and keep going. You’ll likely remember the names of people you haven’t thought about in years. If you can’t recall their names, but just their persona, write whatever descriptive phrase comes to mind (for example, ‘The head cheerleader with blonde hair from ninth grade’). Most people have a very long list, and usually their own name appears near the top.

“Next, say this phrase to each person on the list one by one (either mentally or aloud): ‘I forgive you completely and release you now into the love that is the truth about us both. I only retain the part of our relationship that is healed and based in love. I ask that all effects from mistakes from the past be undone and forgotten forever in time.’

“Remember that you are forgiving the person, and not necessarily their actions (which are false illusions of the ego, no matter how hurtful they were). This forgiveness session will go further toward lightening your ‘spirit’ and ultimately lightening your body than just about anything else you could do.”

As lovely as it seems, eating a cupcake is far more peaceful than making your personal Schindler’s list. I’m not espousing this rather unhealthy take on handling problems with sugar and flour. But it sure beats hard liquor and promiscuous behavior. All I’m saying is that we’re human. Sure, there are some more evolved characters out there. They meditate and do yoga and save the world. I can only pray (saying grace, usually) and eat like my spaghetti loves me back and will pay for my Amex bill.

From the same self-help website, it says:

“At this point during your Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome healing process, you may notice an increasing awareness of your eating behavior. Some of the information you’re reading may trigger some fattening feelings and may make you feel hungry for food. You may be, at this point, almost painfully aware that you don’t eat because you are physically hungry. You eat because of emotional hunger. Understanding the reasons for overeating is an important step for Emotion Eaters. By becoming aware of the differences between physical and emotional hunger, your tendency to automatically eat due to fattening feelings will diminish.”

They obviously have never had Lucky Me or spaghetti in Pancake House.

Fancy food just doesn’t cut it either. I remember a good friend of mine visiting me in London from Hong Kong and coming out from one of those regretful benders. I took him to Nobu and he almost vomited from the smell of the sushi. We ended up eating fried chicken and he almost French kissed his fingers. Oil, grease and transfat make you do crazy things!

Everything in this clinical world becomes an issue. Even eating a happy cupcake on a sad day. When I’m on my emotional eating binge I give myself a week. Then I try to find joy and comfort in salads and mineral water. Pity party over and I’m hoping around this time donuts and fried sugar are already making me nauseous.

Devilish food is out there for a reason. Who could really have made a crazy sundae or a molten chocolate cake on a happy day? Only sad people desperate for happiness are capable of creating such miracles. Someone once said, “A bagel is an unsugared donut in rigor mortis.”

There will always be more inspiring ways to conquer pain. Like you can always read War and Peace instead of watch Law and Order. We don’t have to keep doing the right thing all the time. It’s not like we’re killing the ailing planet by eating something made with a lot of eggs and butter. Just don’t be the Toro emotional eating type.

Life is short. A cupcake a day keeps the straitjacket away.

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