I need to evaluate, re-evaluate and keep re-evaluating my relationship with food. I can’t break up with food, so I need to find a way to make our relationship much healthier than it’s ever been, and keep it that way. Much easier said than done, of course, and perhaps not even entirely possible. But it’s definitely time to try.
I love food, in general. I always have. Well, snacks, at least. From needing that one bowl of chocolate ice cream after school every day, to a bowl of whatever flavour of chips was in the house, snacks were always welcome in my belly. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch was a staple, breakfast for dinner was a treat, cereal was a never-ending parade of taste sensations.
I was a scrawny kid with a high metabolism, so I was the hateful sort who could eat whatever I wanted and never gain weight. My problem was, for awhile there, I couldn’t gain weight. I was constantly getting weighed at the doctor – weekly, if I recall – and everyone did what they could to put weight on me, but none of it worked for awhile. I often wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I’d finished what was on my plate – which, of course would grow cold before I could finish it. Mealtime became this highly stressful thing for me, and that did nothing to increase my appetite, so for awhile there, things did not go well.
As I got older, my body started to balance itself out, and though I was still scrawny, I was at least within the target weight range for my age and height. The low end, but still there. I went to University and introduced regular alcohol consumption to my routine, and still bounced between the same 5lb range for a decade or so.
In my early 30’s, a lot of change happened – mentally, emotionally, and physically. I got into teacher’s college, so I quit smoking before school started, which helped launch me into a deep depression. I started drinking way more, and continued to eat whatever I wanted to, not realizing that my metabolism would no longer bounce back as it had before. It’s almost like it slowed to a stop for a bit there. I packed on something like 60lbs in the 8 months of my school year. None of what I’d purchased at the start of the year to wear in class would fit, and I couldn’t stop the spiral.
Over ten years later I managed to lose some of the weight, but it’s always in stages. I try different things, and it works a bit, but I plateau, in a way, and no matter what I do, nothing changes for awhile again. It’s like a tightrope where the drop is only on one side. It’s ridiculous, really. But the crazy guilt or sadness or despair I feel every time I eat something -no matter what it is – feels like it’s doing more harm than anything else.
And a healthy relationship that doth not make.
I think I’ve gone from one end of the spectrum as a kid, to the opposite as an adult, and none of it has allowed me to enjoy the simple act of eating. I think everyone has this problem to some degree or other, and it seems to me that we’d all be a lot healthier if we could allow ourselves to enjoy providing our bodies with fuel. Our bodies need it, our minds need it, and I think our hearts and spirits need it, too.
I’m not saying we should be able to eat all the crap we want and feel great about it. I’m saying we need – or at least I need – to find a way to take the stress and guilt and fear and despair out of every single mealtime. I could eat all the healthy, nutritious foods in the world and it won’t make a lick of difference until I can be glad I’m doing it. Until I can enjoy it.
It’s all about balance, and when it comes to food, I’ve never had any. Time to start looking for some.