Monday, April 15, 2013

For the love of food

I've been keeping a secret and I'm ready to let it out.

I.  Love.  Food.

Crazy, right?  Because everyone loves food (if you say no, then I think something's wrong).  I've probably been blogging about food since my intern experience at H3 last year, and it's actually helped me come to a couple realizations.  It's typical among my friends to joke about how much ice cream or chips we've gorged on over the weekend, after a night out, or during a stressful time in your life and how "fat" we are.  It's no secret that I like to eat and when I'm hungry, I ain't shy about it.  In fact, the phrase "Fat girl's gotta eat" has come from my mouth so often, I've lost count.  But in reality, food is sometimes my biggest enemy. Or maybe I should say, my thoughts about food are my biggest enemy. It's definitely a combination of culture and psychology that makes healthy living a battlefield for me. Food commercials are always on TV. Giant tacos are plastered on billboards. Food is what we use to celebrate and commiserate.  I'm finally ready to talk about it, in hopes of making a public statement and getting on track.

I love sweets and I binge eat. There, I said it. If food is around, I can't not eat it. I repress any thoughts of "eating that isn't worth it" and stuff a handful of chocolate-covered almonds in my mouth on impulse. That's the easy route. The more difficult route is thinking about why I want to binge when I'm not hungry; what emotions I'm trying to suppress; what stressful events in my life are going on that I want to cover with food.  I remember being at H3 on the grocery store tour and listening to clients' stories of how they'd eat a pint of ice cream & a bag of Doritos BEFORE dinner and thinking, "These people have a really sick mind." But I am no different.  I am guilty of mindlessly pushing food into my mouth because I'm bored; because I like the chewing action; because I'm sad. Even when I'm full, feeling sick, or the food just doesn't taste good anymore. It's hard to control. If it's readily available, I can't not eat it.

What I have learned is that one positive action fuels another (cue Nutri-Grain bar commercial). If I can manage to eat a healthy lunch, I can stave off the urge to steal a bagel from the break room.  If I can distract myself long enough to work out or take Roxy for a walk, I can stop thinking about the jar of peanut butter in the kitchen. I will take this opportunity to say that sitting at a desk for the majority of the day is a breeding ground for food thoughts. I don't think anyone "wishes" for more work, but having more to focus on (and having a job in which I were moving more often) would definitely keep my mind occupied.  Studies have shown that people who routinely eat the same or similar things manage their weight much better.  Variety is the spice of life, but variety is also the devil. I love the foods I eat and I look forward to the same breakfast every day...but going home to my parent's house is like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Things I've sworn off or haven't had in years (that's you, brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts) are suddenly looking me in the face and I can't say no. I've heard from multiple concerned parties that I'm "too restrictive", but how long can I be willy-nilly about things? If you want to make a change, you have to commit. Serious change and progress doesn't come by half-assing it.  You also have to remove the stimulus if it continues to elicit a negative response.  Do recovering alcoholics keep alcohol in their house? No. It's that simple.

So maybe I shouldn't say "I love food", because that's a pretty misleading statement. I actually hate the response it can elicit and I hate that it's a constant struggle for me. I'm ready to stop being controlled by food and do a little detoxing.  I've realized that many people in the fitness industry have very similar issues with food and exercise and I can't help but wonder if it's related to the field or if we were somehow drawn to this field in order to gain some sense of control. Doing a little research of my own regarding food, food thoughts, and food addiction supports my belief that sugar (and foods containing overly refined ingredients and incredibly processed so that nothing is in its original state) is addictive.  Yes, binge and emotional eating has a psychological aspect, but there are also physical aspects that keep you from breaking the cycle. So how does one transition to intuitive eating and really tap into the "food is fuel" mindset? My 2-part approach is a bit of detoxing with Whole Foods' 28-day Challenge and a bit of addressing the emotions and reasons behind my urge to eat.  I'll do a recap each week along with discoveries and challenges along the way.  This post is actually really helpful is changing your attitude toward food.

I think there are many people out there with unhealthy relationships with food. Maybe you're one of them & we can start this journey together :)

No comments:

Post a Comment