My Relationship with Food
I love food.
I love to eat. I love to go out for dinner with my husband. I love nothing more than a plate full of spaghetti and meatballs. I grew up eating rich, carb loaded, delicious meals. They included the trifecta; a protein, a carb, and a vegetable. Except on pasta night. On pasta night there was only a heaping plateful of pasta and 3 meatballs per person. Every meal made my stomach and heart swell with comfort. Apres dinner - even if I didn’t think I could stomach another bite, I would find something to snack on. Cookies, cake, or muffins were a sweet treat that would ensure sweet dreams.
I was a chubby child and later, a chubby teenager. I didn’t care about my appearance until grade nine after noticing that all of the other girls in my grade were much thinner in a way I had only seen on T.V. or in magazines. I weighed myself for the first time that year. I was a plump 145 pounds and that large number sparked something in my brain. I decided to lose weight to feel good about myself and therefore be happy. The quickest way I could think of was to work out, cut down my portions, and cut out all junk food.
I began working out every single day after school. I refused to eat junk food and I would yell at my mom if she told me to have a second serving of anything. My lunches consisted of salad, and salad only. I refused to skip a workout, especially once I began to see results. If I cheated on my diet by having a piece of birthday cake or binging on Doritos, I would work out in my bedroom as quietly as I could.
It took two years for me to lose twenty pounds and gain a complete fear of food. The weight loss did not make me happier or garner any attention from boys. When I looked in the mirror I would still find something I didn’t like about myself. I would still call myself fat or gross - words I would never use to describe someone else.
For the next twelve years my weight would fluctuate between 125 and 135, due to stress or happiness or a combination of both. After I started working full-time and met the man who would eventually be my husband, I became more lax about working out less and eating what I wanted. I felt like there were more important things to spend my time on than working out for an hour or two 7 days a week.
Things were moving along fine. I knew I gained weight over the years but didn’t feel the need to weigh myself. Until about a month ago. I stepped onto the scale in my parents’ bathroom and I didn’t like what stared back at me.
The sight of that number induces nausea for me. In fact, I almost typed 145 because that seems a lot smaller in my head. Immediately after stepping off of the scale, I joined Weight Watchers and started counting my points. In two weeks I lost 4 pounds but my anxiety around food, the fear I felt twelve years ago, came swarming back.
I celebrated my 30th birthday after I lost those 4 pounds and spent an entire week eating cake, going out for dinner, and celebrating all that I’ve accomplished in 30 years. I refused to track my points because I didn’t want to feel guilty for eating; for giving into my cravings. It’s been two weeks since my birthday and I still haven’t started tracking what I’m eating.
The truth is that when I started counting points, I started looking at food the same way I did when I was 14 years old. Food became an enemy. Something I had to pay attention to in a way that would take over my thoughts. I would wake up thinking about what I was going to eat and go to bed feeling bad about having a few cookies before bed. I started binging and praying that I would throw up. I wasn’t able to enjoy any meal and would get mad at myself for eating pasta for dinner or toast for breakfast.
My perspective on food changed with a snap of Thanos’ finger and I’m trying desperately to get back to the place I was in. A place where food was fuel and also something to enjoy. I want to make balanced choices and not give into the all-or-nothing mentality. I wish I could write you some 5-step-way-to-fix-your-relationship-with-food but for me, it will never be that easy. For me, it is a daily battle. I have to remind myself to be nicer to MYSELF. I have to think about what I am putting into my body and if I’m eating it because I am trying to forget about something that’s bothering me or if I will actually ENJOY the cookies before me.
For me, it’s about being making mindful choices and being kind to myself.
And that’s all I want on my plate.