As long as I can remember, I was always very thin and could eat whatever and whenever I wanted. In fact, I earned quite a reputation for myself in high school for the amount of food I could consume and still be so thin (I think I was actually proud of it). People would always ask me where I put it!
In fact, even today I’m still remembered by my long-time friends for the 3 glazed donuts I used to start out an average day with and the clinking and scraping noises I would make with my spoon while eating my end of the day ice cream (while on the phone with my best friend, Gail, for probably the 3rd time that evening…my dad would always ask what on earth we could possibly still have to talk about!).
My mother would repeatedly warn me that I’d blow up like a balloon someday eating like that. Of course, being the teenager that I was at the time, I’d respond the way I responded to most things my mother told me….”Ooohhh, Mooommm!”
And wasn’t some of it her fault anyway since I had developed this seemingly unhealthy relationship with food from a very young age? In fact, one of my favorite memories of childhood was getting up earlier than everyone else on Saturday mornings to watch TV and sneak (way too many) Oreo cookies. I found that very comforting.
Anyway, I then went off to college and quickly managed to pack on that famous “Freshman 15”…all that beer and late night pizzas as advertised. I managed to lose a lot of that weight eventually but never got back to my original starting point, which was probably just as well as it was a bit too thin anyway.
But now, 30 years later, while certainly fluctuating a bit up and down over the years, I’m now at my highest weight ever (beating all previous highest evers) and barely able to budge it. While still technically “normal” and “healthy” for my height, it’s just too much for my petite frame, not to mention all the clothes I currently own (who can afford to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe?). Not to mention that it’s just not the body that I’ve grown to know and even love over all these years. Whose body is this, I often lament now. How did this happen?
And gone are the days when I could just leave the cheese off my burger or take an extra long walk to shed those extra pounds. Now it takes much more work. And what do I do about that darn sweet tooth of mine? Is it really a sweet tooth anyway, as certainly sweet fruit just won’t do…it has to be a true dessert!
So, how do I change this crazy relationship I have with food? I don’t necessarily eat just when I’m hungry (I’m not even sure I know what that really feels like anymore if I’m honest). I eat when I’m bored, upset, sad, depressed, need to reward myself, see other people eating, or just to “fill myself up” emotionally…for comfort.
I’m guessing the key is probably to try to get in touch with my emotions before I actually put anything into my mouth. Then I can determine what’s drawing me to food at that moment and see if I can’t substitute something else for it. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? I also tend to eat mindlessly so I eat more than I need or what my eyes or taste buds still want before realizing that my stomach is actually satisfied (even stuffed).
I hate to just instinctively blame all this on my mother, but, while working on this website, I’ve read so much about how our relationship with food and our attitudes about our body image are formed in childhood and are modeled by our mothers.
My mom has always said that her family wasn’t a physically demonstrative one but she craved that. And her own mother seemed to think the way to show love to her family was to cook and feed them. That can’t possibly lead to a healthy relationship with food can it? So, my mom says she ate to feel love and comfort. Especially sweets. Boy, how comforting is a good piece of chocolate cake (and I’m not being sarcastic here)? Even today my mom and I have some very special bonding moments over our favorite Belgium chocolate cookies…yum!
My mom continues to find comfort in food and actually focuses on where we are going to eat, when we are going to eat, and what we are going to eat more than who we are going to eat with and the whole experience in general. I complain about this fixation she has, and, yet, my boyfriend complains that I do the very same thing (at least to a degree). Yeah, I guess I do spend too much time thinking about food and what, where and when we’re going to eat it…just like my mom. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose.
Changing my relationship with food just seems so hard, as so many things in life are. But I guess it’s just a constant work in progress and I have to believe that I can make a change. After all, isn’t attitude everything?