I’m a stress eater. I’ve finally come to terms with that. I have two forms of stress cravings – body stress (like after a weekend of overnights followed by an immediate switch to day mode) which leaves me wanting all things salty (Ramen is the best source of salt) and mind stress which leaves me wanting all things sweet.
Most of my stress is self-inflicted; I have a hard time saying no, my eyes are bigger than my abilities to manage my time, and everything always seems like a good idea 4 weeks out. As much as I’d like to say that I manage stress by exercising (I have taken up running, seriously, and it helps, but obviously not enough) or by meditating (uh, who wants to be THAT alone with their thoughts? Not me), or even just by spending the evening with friends (I do that too, but there’s food involved!) it’s not true. When backed into a wall, all I want is my good friend Willy Wonka.
Oh Willy. You and your pressed sugar treats from heaven. I’ll work through a roll of Spree candy in an afternoon. If I can find the movie theater box size? Look out. The reds are obviously my favorite, and I’ll try to save some of those for the end. But Spree aren’t at the top of my list. Give me some Gobstoppers. Little globes of colored sugar, changing flavors if you have the patience, breaking molars if you don’t. Gobstoppers are now holiday themed – hearts for Valentine’s Day (stupid holiday, awesome Gobstoppers), egg shaped at Easter, red white and green at Christmas, all wonderful additions to the ball of sugar family. I may have worked a shift or two with a pocket full of Gobstoppers just to keep me going. They are a hot commodity among a small, elite group of stressed technicians. But not even Gobstoppers can topple the stress food of choice for me: RUNTS. Tiny, brightly colored fruit shapes – cherries, apples, oranges, grapes and bananas – I will crunch until my mouth is raw then reach for another handful. Boxes disappear faster than lectures can be written, faster than insomnia can be sated, faster than the tech schedule can be filled out. I will wake up in the morning (afternoon? middle of the night?) with a jaw so sore I wonder who punched me; and then I remember. It was Willy Wonka and his wonderful sugary treats.
At least I’m not alone. I co-managed the technician staff with the great Meredith Rose for a time, and we shared an office. The stress zone. We had a bowl in that office full of gum (I tried to get my fix with gum. It’s a poor substitute. But I tried) and other treats which would quickly disappear during office days. We each cursed the other for bringing sugary or salty delights that we would then consume and feel guilty about. But the topper of them all came during a desk cleaning day. Meredith opened what she called “The Drawer of Shame”. I’m laughing just thinking about it. In this drawer were handfuls of mini candy bar wrappers, hidden away during moments of pure angst, hiding anxiety from the world. At that moment I knew my management burden was equally shouldered. And the drawer of shame lives on.
I’ve only had one box of Runts this week. There is another box sitting on my kitchen counter and I fear that it won’t be there tomorrow. It’s just one of those weeks. Perhaps allowing you to view my drawer of shame will help? Maybe I’ve just given you some good stress eating ideas. Thank you Willy Wonka. Thank you for helping me cope, breaking my teeth and lifting my soul. I should go for a run…