Food Relationships: My Unhealthy Eating Habits
For those of you who haven’t seen this incredible piece, you don’t understand what you’re missing out on. Not only is it phenomenally well done but, it is so eerily accurate at describing an ever-prevalent emotion, its poignancy cannot be ignored. Sure, it’s not completely about the relationship we have to food but, that key facet around which the piece dances, is a real and effecting part of lives. For the Jonas’ out there who cannot understand what it means to have a relationship with food, congratulations: it must be so wonderful to eat whatever you want, simply because you’re hungry. For some of us, it isn’t always that easy.
Anyone who knows me would ever think that I think negatively about food. I don’t. I love food. I love to make it and eat it and share it with others. I am very pro-food. What I do have is an unhealthy relationship with food. Like so many others, I live in an “all or nothing” world when it comes to eating. If I’m hungry, I eat and I eat to excess. That’s not good. When I try to eat better or healthier, I end up not eating at all. Also, not good. I was sick the other day and remember thinking; “at least I’ll be thinner after throwing up and not being able to eat for a day”, and then examined my body in the mirror to see if my ribs were any more visible or if my thighs looked any smaller. That is an unhealthy relationship with food.
Finding yourself in an unhealthy food relationship on both ends of the spectrum
How do we combat issues relating to food and eating? I wish I had an answer for that. For most of the time I can remember of my life, right back to elementary school, I have gone through phases of excess and deprivation; and in each phase I hate myself for not being strong enough to overcome my single-minded fixation of counting or of gluttonous overindulgence. The problem comes when I can justify each, horrifyingly unhealthy decision. When I over eat, I can tell myself that “if my body really bothered me, I would do something about it” and then hide the take-out food bags in trash bins other than my own so my family won’t see them; and, when it comes to limiting my food, I can drink nothing but water and lemon until I am too dizzy to think straight, while telling myself that I’ll look great in a bikini this summer.
I have friends who talk about their love of lettuce or how they don’t really miss carbs: I think they’re all liars, but that’s mostly because I want to be able to eat bread all day, every day and not love handles or giggly arms. When they go to the gym, I wonder where they get the motivation. Unless I’m swimming, I get so bored when I exercise and, as we’ve established, the thought of being in a bathing suit makes me want to run and hide… with a box of oatmeal cookies. When people say they enjoy going to the gym, I think they’re full of shit. The only people who like going to the gym are the people who look like they don’t need to be there.
How to go about establishing a healthy relationship with your own eating habits that doesn’t require justification
I am a master at poking fun at my body, saying with disingenuous pride that “I’ll never be a size negative six”. I won’t be—and that’s fine—but I’ll be damned if I ever have to buy a pant size bigger than the ones I wear now. For every pound I see someone else losing, the more paranoid I become about the number I would see on the scale. Not that I have a scale. My mother never let one into our house for fear that the number we saw would mean more to us than it should. Sorry, Mom. Instead, at every home or hotel I go to that has a scale, I sneakily weigh myself and subsequently hate what I read on the display.
It’s an on-going process. Since food is something we all need to survive, I’m going to have to continue to develop a way to interact with it that doesn’t involve me stealing calories I don’t need or telling people “I had a huge breakfast” to justify skipping lunch. I often think that, if I’m busy enough, I won’t have time to think about or fixate on food. Really, is that going to help in the long run? In order to effectively deal with any problem we need to take ownership of it. I take ownership of my own unhealthy relationship with food. Not that it will make dealing with it any easier but at least I know there is something to fix and can actively try to make better decisions when I do deal with it.