I haven’t written in a while. I definitely let me schedule get the best of me, but I also have been working on this post for longer than I had intended.
It has taken me a long time to get in a good relationship. When I was younger I looked to all the wrong things. I can actually taste things when I’m in certain moods. I know I want something tangy like Ranch dressing when I’m stressed. I also know I want caffeine when I get anxiety. Even though I have a much better handle on my eating habits, I know my relationship with food can be difficult at times , but where does it come from?
When I was a kid we didn’t have a lot of money so I learned to be able to eat breakfast for dinner and lunch for breakfast. Even to this day I can have a salad at 8 in the morning and not have a problem. This can be really helpful, but I also get crazy cravings.
When I was a teenager and we were better off, we had a pretty healthy pantry. While I was never hungry, I remember going to my friends houses and being excited because the food at their houses was typically the sweet, salty variety. This was my first experience with binging. I couldn’t have it at home and I felt like I would never get the opportunity again.
I remember when my younger sister would cry or throw a tantrum, our mother would hand her something to eat. It might be a piece of candy or it might be a piece of fruit, regardless I saw food being used as a way to calm down.
I grew up dancing and because of the amount of hours I logged I could ultimately eat whatever I wanted and not have an issue gaining weight. I realized in college when my activity levels were way lower that this wasn’t going to be the case. However, at this point, I had been in and out of relationships from friendships to the dating variety. Drinks were easy to confide in because on the average Wednesday to Saturday night all college age adults can be found with a beer in their hand. Even going up for a second or third plate in the buffet style cafeteria wasn’t an issue because maybe I just wanted to “try” something I saw before.
Ordering take-out and getting late-night dollar menu weren’t questioned because everyone else was doing it to. The problem came when it was clear that I wasn’t just maintaining my weight anymore. I wasn’t a size 5 like I had been when I first started college and I hated that. However, I didn’t do anything to prevent it. I just kept eating.
I ate because that’s what you do on Thursday night. I ate because we were celebrating. I ate because I was stressed. I ate because I hate the relationships I had with friends and family. Throughout my college career my weight skyrocketed from a meager 127 pounds and a size 5 to 240+ pounds and a size 24. I hate no idea who I was and when I let my eating get out of control. There is no one event that I can pin point, but I know how I felt during many.
Going to Taco Bell because it was a stressful day and it was cheap on the pocket was a regular occurrence. I figured ordering 2 beef baja style chapula’s and a soft taco without tomatoes really wasn’t that much food. I knew how the salty shell with the tangy sauce tasted and that it was comforting. If only I knew that in that one meal I was consuming:
I was easily consuming more than 2,500 calories a day.
Eating was necessary, but it made me nervous. I was scared I would eat too much, and I always did. As I gained weight, I got more anxiety about how I looked. I used humor to brush it off, but then I would always turn to food to make me feel better.
When I started losing weight, I would write down how I was feeling and what my cravings were. This helped me recognize the correlations and triggers. I immediately stopped drinking soda and I cut coffee out too. I loved to load up my ice coffee with cream and sugar. I figured this was a step in the right direction. Baby steps.
I cut pasta out too. I was living on food stamps and pasta was cheap, but I figured I could find a better alternative. I wasn’t going low carb, but I wanted to play with my food and see how I reacted to different things. After college, while still struggling to find a job in my field, I worked part-time at a Wendy’s on top of my full-time hour, temporary job. It was very tempting to eat everything on the menu, but I figured this was a way to test myself. My meals were 50% off as an employee and I would get a side salad with no dressing or croutons, and maybe a sandwich, but no bun or dressing.
This was a step. I needed to learn to make better decisions when in hard situations like eating out. I packed my lunch when I could and that not only saved me from high calorie foods, but saved my wallet as well.
As I cut out processed sugars and extra salts, I found myself less dependent on them and I saw weight coming off.
When in social situations like going to the movies, I started packing my own snacks, this included an apple or a snack bag of chips. Movie prices have risen so much since I was a kid I was doing myself a service all around. This is also something I continue to practice, but I’ve graduated from apples to protein bars.
The past few weeks have been trying. I’ve decided that I can’t compete this May, not because of food issues or unwillingness to work hard, but competing is expensive and I don’t believe having a kickstarter as this time is a good idea. I do want to work over the summer and compete in the fall, but because of this change, I feel like I have let myself down. This is something completely out of my control, but it’s still taking a toll on me emotionally.
Making good decisions has been hard, and when I think about why do I want Easter candy or why do I want a burger, it comes down to remembering the times that I remembered how food made me feel better.
If I’m alone on a Friday night and I eat the whole bag of popcorn will anyone know?
The answer is yes. I will know. I will be disappointed. This isn’t about depriving myself, because that’s why I eat flexibly, but this is about portion control and trusting myself to stop.
Here’s what I have found to be helpful when seeking a better relationship with food.
1. write down your cravings and what events are triggering them
2. make a list of activities you can do instead of eating
3. write down foods that are triggers for binging and ask yourself why this is a trigger
4. set small goals to help yourself ween off your trigger foods or moderate them
Here’s what we can do to prevent poor relationships with food for the younger generation.
1. Don’t give in to their wants like my mother did. My sister has a lot of eating issues and I believe it’s because my mother helped enable her bad behavior. If she yelled, she got a candy bar. It should’ve been if she yelled she got a time out.
2. Introduce healthy foods early and often. My friend Julie makes her daughters baby food all the time. I know this isn’t easy or always possible, but small, positive changes where you can. Maybe your toddler likes kale and you have no idea. If you wouldn’t want to eat it, why feed it to your kid?
3. Eat out as a treat, not as necessity. Once in a while is a treat, every weekend isn’t. If time prevents you from making a home cooked meal, think about the time you sat in the restaurant waiting for your food.
4. Meal prep the bulk of meals and make it a family affair. If you can get the family on board with prepping a few meals at the beginning of the week maybe they’ll have an appreciation for the hard work that goes into cooking, but maybe they’ll have some fun sampling what you’re putting together. In an hour I can make 3 different meals and have a week’s worth of food ready. Sometimes I will have Netflix on the my laptop while I wait for things to finish in the oven. Being in the kitchen doesn’t have to be boring.
What tips do you have to make healthier decisions? Let me know! Comment below.