My relationship with food has been changing so much lately and I’m starting to feel confused about things. Food has always been my frenemy. I loooove food. First, it’s delicious. Of course. It is marvelous used to distract me from things as flavors burst in my mouth, giving a tiny, brief, yet powerful mini-break from whatever is lurking in my immediate future. Food also happens to be one of my favorite hobbies. I love to cook. It’s a meaningful and necessary means of entertainment. When I was a kid I wanted to have a bakery and I spent hours upon hours in the kitchen trying out cookie recipes. As an adult, when a Saturday isn’t full of events, I like to spend the afternoon in the kitchen making a stick-to-your-ribs, comfort-food kind of meal, heavy with potatoes, cheese and slow cooking hours.
But food has also been my greatest struggle. I have overused it for a distraction against stress and as self-love during my whole life as it developed into a series binging episodes and food hoarding behaviors that ended with me in a very dangourous position from a health standpoint. I never thought I was an emotional eater until one night I was stressing about not eating everything in sight and I spied a bottle of diet coke. I grabbed it, guzzled it down and as it did it filled my stomach, then the carbonation hit and filled it out even more giving the feeling of being stuffed full of food. It was like a switch hit in my brain ‘stuffed full’ and finally my need to keep eating finished off. I realized that I didn’t just like the taste of food, I was also chasing the ‘hug’ my too-full stomach gave once I reached capacity and felt stuffed. I immediately felt all kinds of embarrassment at the realization that I was one of those kinds of girls. The ones who eat their feelings. Ugh.
Obviously food made me really unhealthy. My relationship with it was an emotional one so food grew to mean much more than nutrition to me- it was reliable, emotional security. So I ate a lot of it and I hated it. I knew that each bite of ice cream, each extra slice of pizza, each time I justified nachos as a ‘meal’ that I was making myself fatter, unhealthier and the mountain top was becoming just that much harder to reach. While eating, having and being fat isn’t a bad thing, for me it was an unhealthy thing. Immobilizing thing. As much as I wanted to eat all the yummy foods, another part of me wanted to never eat again. I didn’t want to make healthy or unhealthy food choices, I didn’t want to think about portion sizes, I didn’t want to constantly battle temptations. I just wanted food to be easy and easy looked like making black and white decisions: bread, BAD! French fries: BAD! Celery: GOOD! But in doing so I often ended up making things harder for myself as cutting myself off from ice cream and full fat sour cream makes me crazy and then flips me right back into a binge cycle. It’s vicious.
Cut to now, 149 pounds down and trying to figure out how to eat, and it’s hard. My relationship with food is so convoluted and confusing. For so long I’ve just loved or hated food. I’ve controlled food by hiding it in my bedroom for future ’emergencies’ and I’ve also ‘cleaned my cupboards’ to protect myself from making bad choices. I control my calories. I eat so flipping intentionally that it’s exhausting. Now I’m trying to find the balance. I don’t want to obsess over food anymore. I am constantly walking the slippery slope of eating too much, not enough, too junky or ridiculously healthy. This week I was really busy- like, I ate my lunch on my feet kind of busy. The kind of ‘so busy’ that I returned home each day with a nearly full lunch sack, so I justified eating a little extra here and there as I cooked dinner to ‘make up’ for what I missed earlier. I did a good job of not night eating, but I also did a good job of lying to myself a little bit because, while I didn’t eat after 7:30, I made sure to pre-eat enough so I felt like I got what I deserved when I missed eating my lunch. Why couldn’t I have just moved on, eaten my dinner and been done with it? Instead, I made sure to eat all of my allowed calories, even though I wasn’t even hungry.
Am I actually saying anything here as I’m rambling on and on about food? I suppose I’ve just illustrated the point around me being confused about food as I’m trying to renegotiate my relationship with it. I just want it to be easy. I want to eat an apple and not congratulate myself that I made a healthy food choice and then continue to remark, in my head, over and over about how much “I really love apples, so sweet, crunchy and delicious- the perfect satisfying carb for a healthy eater like me!” Just eat the damn apple. I also don’t want to get my sour cream out and have to justify and obsess over how big of a spoonful to take because I really want to just get out the tortilla chips and eat the whole container, just like that. (What IS it about sour cream, I ask of you?!?). I just want to eat it. All of it. Food dominates my life and I’m sick of it.
Maybe that’s why I’m looking into and trying to figure out macros now. It seems like a formula. While it does involve a high level of control with all the weighing and prepping and serving sizes, it also takes a lot of the active thinking about food out of the equation. Suddenly, instead of good or bad foods I just have the thing there to grab. No worries over serving sizes after I’ve prepped it all on Sunday, or attempts to convince myself of one thing or another, I will just be eating it because it’s the thing I’ve planned to eat. I don’t know… It’s a task that never seems complete, this whole getting fit and healthy thing. 😉 But as the bracelet I wear every day on my wrist says: