Don’t reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.
I was recently having a conversation with my friend Tanya who I deeply admire. Why, you ask? Because this boss babe truly walks the walk in terms of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She doesn’t just talk about it, she does it…and I too want to DO IT. We were discussing all the different kinds of meal plans out there right now from paleo to low-carb to keto to plant-based to alkaline. The list goes on and on. More trends, diets, books, approaches, and gurus than I could possibly name. I mean talk about nutrition information overload. Tanya said,
“Food isn’t really about the taste for me anymore. I try to think about how nutritious the food is that I’m about to eat and all of the benefits my mind and body will get from those nutrients”.
HOLD ON, GRAB YOUR SEAT, AND STOP THE MOTHER F**KIN BUS. Food isn’t really about the taste? W.T.F. But seriously for a foodie like me, this is a thought that has never crossed my mind. Yet, seems like such a novel and perhaps logical idea.
For me the purpose of food was always about enjoying it. That means taste, pleasure, and later on in my addiction it meant consuming food in excess. I was always the kid at school with with the boring healthy lunch. You know…a sandwich with some apples slices and carrot sticks. My juice box was always 100% juice, never HI-C or Kool Aid, and if you came to my house we never ever had soda. I was so envious of the kids with pudding packs, chips and cookies. NO ONE was tryna’ trade with me that’s for sure. While I know my Mother was trying to instill healthy eating habits what I learned was deprivation and the result was over-consumption. Like anything we can’t have when I got my hands on it I wanted more. Or at least, that’s how my brain processed the experience.
Sometimes food made me feel better while simultaneously making me feel worse. I remember being eleven years old at a slumber party laid up in the corner with OREOS eating an entire sleeve from my sleeping bag. I was hiding it. I was wondering and hoping and praying that no one noticed or saw me. The OREOS were my comfort and made me feel at ease but it also made me shameful. When I was old enough to earn my own money I would go down to the convenient store before my mom got home from work and buy a whole bunch of little Debbie Snacks, eat them, and then put the trash in the outside garbage versus the inside garbage can so that my mom wouldn’t know. In the complex relationship that is me and food I think there was something about it being secret or rebellious that made it more enjoyable. Closet eating and binge eating thus became something I did often, even though I didn’t know at the time, it actually had a name and was a thing.
On my weight loss and overcoming food addiction journey, knowing WHY I do what I do has been something important for me to figure out. It has also been the most difficult. Lots of challenges, lots of good friends, and lots of good therapy later I understand a few things: I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I celebrate, I eat when I’m bored. To an addict, or someone who struggles with food, there can appear on the surface to be no reason at all why you do what you do.
As an 8 year old I went to the doctor for my annual check up and found out that I was “overweight”. I had never heard the word before but now I understood it as me. He explained the maximum weight based on my age was 70 lbs and that I was over it, at 73 lbs, showing me a little squiggly graph. It was the first time in my life that anyone told me I was too big … and I understood in that moment that this was a BAD THING. I wasn’t allowed to be big, but I was. In other words, I was too much and this stuck. It stuck in my mind, my thoughts, and in particular my thoughts about myself.
While I had weight-loss surgery almost 3 years ago, and definitely consider myself a success story, eating is still something I struggle with in terms of long-term change. I realize what I need now is deeper. I need a mental shift. A spiritual shift. A more holistic approach. I have learned that to overcome this, I mean really overcome this, I’m going to have to change the way that I think about myself and retrain my mental relationship with food. In this way, it’s not only an outside job but an intensely inside job as well. The process of making these changes will be long but I am ready for the fight. I need to be more like Tanya. I need to start thinking about food a lot more like fuel and a lot less as just tasting good. The alternative of continuing to struggle and go up and down in this vicious cycle of trying and failing and repeating and trying and failing isn’t working for me either. I’m done with that life. It’s too much, too emotional, and it’s too stressful. Ultimately, it’s taking more from me than it is giving.
So on that note … DEAR FOOD … LET’S BREAK UP.
Love, Lashes and Lipstick