I do, I have a relationship with food. Unfortunately it is toxic, much like my relationship with alcohol. The difference is, for me is that quitting drinking seems to be the easier task, than changing my thoughts about food has been. You see, you don’t need alcohol to survive, it provides nothing beneficial to you (if you tend to over drink anyway- one glass a day only counted for me, if you considered the bottle “a” glass), you can easily live with out it. Food, not so much. Food is our source for nourishment, it supports our heart, brain and bodily functions that we use daily. Food is our fuel, stabilizer and life provider. You can not simply abstain, you can not “quit” food, you can not give it up. You have to learn how to moderate it. You need to see it as nourishment and not as a reward or comforter. I need to see it as nourishment, I need to eat to live not live to eat.
My relationship with food is kind of effed up. I believe it started back when I was a young gymnast, a 13 or 14 year old. It was said to me that I was “heavy” for a gymnast. I already felt large for a gymnast, all on my own. Yes large, when I was 4’11” tall. Having an adult say this to me validated my own feelings. I was 128 pounds, when I first joined Weight Watchers at about 15 years of age. As a gymnast I was very muscular, I had Mary Lou Retton thighs (so I was told). But I didn’t have an ounce of fat on me- accept my breasts. My breasts made me feel very large. But I was rock solid. My legs were built for tumbling and vaulting. But I was large for a gymnast. And, this is where I think it really began….
Soon after this is when I started restricting food, only to eventually have a full out binge. I started to deny myself things that were “bad” and again, after long periods of time of going with out, I would binge. I tried purging but I couldn’t keep up with that, the broken blood vessels, swollen eyes and sheer grossness of it kept me from becoming a purger. So, instead I restricted to try and compensate for the binge episodes. This became my copying mechanism at many points in my life. Through out my adult life I have weighed 105 pounds and 254 pounds. Back and forth, back and forth- feed, starve, feed starve. A toxic cycle that introduced self-loathing talk, feelings of guilt, and body distortion/body shaming to me.
I can’t say the media helped me, the Kate Moss years just about did me in because that was surely unattainable, though that would not stop me from trying to make it happen. I am not sure I spent any time, ever loving my body. How could I? I was considered “heavy” at 128 pounds, I had no chance for any body love. I was crushed at such a young age. I have been on a diet since I was about 15. That is crushing.
Thirty-five years of a diet mentality is going to be very difficult to unravel, it is going to be very difficult to retrain my brain. To move a way from using terms like “good” food and “bad” food. I say I am “bad” all the time when I decide to have something sweet. I have the worse food relationship vocabulary. Food equals negativity in my world and that means I have spent a lot of my time feeling shameful and guilty. Like a “bad” person, a weak person, a loser.
I thought weight loss surgery was going to be the best spring board for me to get to my ideal weight. Lord knows I tried EVERY diet and NOTHING worked. I did all the research and attended all the pre-surgery meetings and therapies. To this day, I am happy I did have the surgery but I regret not really taking, the time to learn why for 35 years I yo yo’d with my weight. Why did I feed and restrict? Why did I use language like good and bad? I never dealt with that, and after 4 years, half of my 90 pounds came back on. When I put myself into intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol, I quickly went back to my old pre-surgery food habits, my need to fill a whole within me came back. Food fills holes nicely. And now as I go through disordered eating therapy and nutritional counseling to try and repair my toxic thoughts and actions- my weight is still increasing slowly. It is very difficult to work on one’s self and not have a vice (wine, over eating…..). As insane as it sounds I am using food as a crutch, while I try to dissect its hold on me. Like I said, me and food, are effed up!
Today in therapy I decided that I am spending way too much time on all the things I am doing imperfectly. I do dwell on those things. I have been challenged to focus on the things I do that are helpful, that I am doing well and journal them. Like I eat a healthy breakfast every day- I never skip it and I no longer eat crap in the morning. I nourish myself. Every day I pack a cooler with fresh nourishing snacks that fill me up. I do not let myself go to work with out it because that is setting me up for disaster- I keep myself nourished. Those are good things I am doing well, hopefully throughout this week I will discover other positive actions, if not I will be happy with my healthy breakfast, lunches and snacks.
I can’t leave without saying that I do feel silly blogging about my “issues” when there is so much awfulness going on in our world. So much scary nonsense, so much terror and insanity- but I have to keep moving forward. The kinder I am to myself, the kinder I can be to others in this world. All I can control is myself and my behavior. I am going to keep working on helping to raise conscientious kind, emotionally healthy, and resilient children and young adults- these are my contributions to this hysteria.