I continue to analyze and understand my food addiction. It’s an arduous task to break down my thoughts and feelings, even after a lifetime of trying. As I continue this journey, I observe many different types of behavior of others in addition to my own, to find solutions.
A recent observation during an impulse to eat reminded me of my mother. My mother has dementia. Her condition has rendered her personality to be, what I consider, childlike. She does not have a memory of being my mother and cannot grasp the concept because she feels we are too close in age for that to be possible. We have a twenty-five-year age difference.
One of my mother’s rituals is to pack her suitcase as if she is about to travel. She also chooses unusual items to pack, they are random. She will pack saved greeting cards, framed photos, jewelry in boxes, etc. When I have witnessed this, I get the sense she is trying to keep as many items as possible that are part of her past close to her. It’s as if she is gathering memories that bring her comfort – pulling her past close to her to bring forth those warm memories.
When I went to my cupboard to grab something to eat, I wasn’t hungry. I physically didn’t need to eat. However, I was pulled towards satisfying something in me. Recently, while doing this, I had a flash memory of my mother standing in front of her suitcase packed with all her treasures. My memory related to that vision of my mother while I was on my way to satisfy something I needed. Perhaps I too needed to “gather” a memory. A memory of a time in my life when I had fewer worries and a simpler life. Many of life’s memories have to do with food whether it’s family dinner time or holiday feasts.
My mother has lost much of her memory and I believe there is a part of her that realizes that. She is trying to bring something back that her heart and soul remember while her mind and memory cannot. My overheating is me trying to bring comfort back that I remember from my past, even though for me my mind is aware that this is not the right thing to do. My mind is in cahoots with memory and they are a powerful combination.
My mother also needs to feel she is in control and capable. She does not want people to do things for her because she equates it with feeling “less than”. When I am feeling that the events around me are not within my control I likely feel as she does. I say “likely” because my mother cannot articulate exactly what she is going through, I am assuming based on her behavior and her irritation with us. This feeling of lack of control in my life, as with many overeaters, causes me to make a quick fix by having the power to bring back my comforted memory by eating.
Please know that in no way do I think there is an association between food addiction and dementia. As I mentioned in the blog opening, I am searching to find the answers to my food addiction and my behavior. As we all know, it starts with understanding before being able to correct.
Now the fun part begins with trying to replace eating with something that will be equally satisfying. It might not bring me back to a place of memories from the past but enough to regain control and being present and content with feeling healthy.
As for my mother we unpack her suitcase when she isn’t looking. We have also learned to suggest without telling. There are many wonderful resources to help families and caregivers for supporting a loved one with dementia.
I hope of have been a resource to help you with your health goals. Please stay safe and God bless!