Food for Thought

Every Monday morning, I go up to our dining hall here at work and have breakfast with 3 or 4 coworkers. Despite working together for a somewhat smallish organization, we rarely see each other as we work on either side of a building separated by a lovely outdoor space. It’s nice to catch up and find out more about one another as you technically spend more time with your coworkers than your own family.

Our dining hall is also a place where students from the surrounding university have breakfast, too. It’s fun to watch the sleepy heads stumble in for a bite to eat before heading off to classes or back to their rooms to study or sleep.

This morning, I found myself focused on what the crumpled clothes they’ve donned and looking at what they’ve put on their plates. And then it hit me…

When will I EVER stop obsessing about food?

This is my constant struggle. I constantly see “skinny” people come in and can easily eat a muffin, a bowl of cereal, yogurt and fruit in one sitting. To me, that’s a huge portion that would show up on a scale for weeks, but for them it doesn’t show a thing (well, to me, the outside observer).

Now, one might think this is more of a hate-on for skinny people with fantastic metabolisms, but to me, it only highlights my ridiculous relationship with food. I don’t have any issue with their size, nor do I want to be them. I just want what’s on their tray without any consequences.

THAT is a problem.

I know I’m totally of the mentality that I have to eat it all now or else it will go away. In the past, I have tried to justify buying larger bags of goodies as I can save them for another day only to end up eating them all at once. I have the biggest problem in not purchasing the appropriate, single serving size or only taking a single serving from a larger container.

I am WELL AWARE of the problem.

A friend once told me that I had to stop looking at food for pleasure and instead look at it as fuel. I tried that last year and had success, but how does that curb sudden cravings and temptations at every turn? It really doesn’t and that’s how I’m back on this seesaw of weight loss, going up and down on the scale every week and having a love/hate relationship with food.

I’m sure a therapist would have a field day with me trying to figure out what triggers this all and maybe I’d finally get to the bottom of this mess. But I don’t think that’s in the cards. But I also know I’m not alone in this struggle…

So, good people of the interwebz, how do you cope?
How do you repair a dysfunctional relationship with food?


fitrachick said...

I'm so completly dysfunctional about food so I have no tips for you.

Not sure about looking at food only as fuel - you would just end up eating the same foods all of the time. I like taking pleasure from a fabulous piece of cheese or a comforting bowl of oatmeal. Guess there needs to be a happy balance.

Maria said...

I don't know how helpful this is, because it's really hard for me to articulate.

But I just woke up one day and stopped thinking about all those things that a life of being scared of food had taught me: that eating is bad; that diet means restriction; that calories are something to tally in a journal... to measure... to weigh; that my worth is in my ability to say no to a blueberry muffin; and that fat is my default state.

An obsessive, dysfunctional relationship with food brought me to my lowest places and my poorest health. It made me 89 pounds and very sick, and it made me 155 pounds and very sick.

I used to believe that my issues were caught up in this special relationship that I alone have with eating: that I just love to eat so much, and it's so unfair that I can't eat and eat without consequences, like other people do. And the feelings of self-defeat that ensued brought me to extremes: binge, starve, binge, starve.

It comes down to serving my body, and not thinking about everything so damn hard. Turning off the internal narrative. And knowing that I have a finite number of meals to eat in this life. They better be good - and help my body to do the amazing things I want it to do.

Kimberley said...

I had to reconnect my body and my mind. So far, so good.

Sarah said...

I don't know that I have an answer to your question, but I do know what helped me when I would stare longingly at other people's plate. I finally realized I had no idea what the people I looked at were going through. They could exercise for hours, they could be an avid runner, they could just be having a bad day, or they could just eat like that all the time.

I realized there is always more to the story than what's on the plate.

I haven't had much sugar in the past two weeks and I really think for me personally that has helped with cravings. Don't get me wrong, it still looks good, but I don't feel like I need it any more.

MizFit said...

you know I could ramble forever here, oh Mousearoo so I shall make it super brief.
How do you repair it?
one day at a time
one meal at a time
one morsel at a time
one bite at a time.


marie said...

@Sarah - cutting out sugar isn't a problem. I have next to none in my diet to begin with beyond the moment I want to binge.

@Maria - for me, I know it's not that I LOVE to eat, I think it's probably something deeper but I have to say that I enjoy how your way of thinking on food has changed and how it translates into what you make and share.

I know it's a one day at a time thing, but it's been years and years of that. I have no clue how I truly lost all that weight looking back.

Maybe it will smack me in the face one day and the problem will disappear.

I hope.

SH said...

I have similar pyschological issues with food, and I've been finding the Beck Diet book by Judith Beck very helpful. It's actually not a diet at all, but exercises in cognitive behavioral therapy,which helps to change that inner nagging, negative monologue. Also, I a fan of taking diet/exercise books out of the library before I buy them to see if I like them. SO if you'd like to save money - hit up the TPL! Good luck.

Heather said...

I wish I had an answer to why I obsessivly check out the contents other other people's grocery cart, what they buy at the coffee shop or have in their bagged lunch.

I think I may always struggle with emotional eating/food issues and when a day goes by without food dominating a portion of my thoughts it's a good day.

I have found that actually analyzing my emotions and figuring out what the actual issue is has helped my knee jerk cravings for fatty food and ensuring I get enough exercise helps my overall mood as well.

I don't know how helpful this reponse is for you but you are certainly not alone :)

Angie All The Way said...

I feel like I'm the same way, I just "love food". But the more I think about it, it's all a product of my childhood and what I was taught and what I saw being modeled before my own eyes - from bad eating habits to emotional eating. Even though I recognize where it likely comes from, it's SO ingrained in me that I don't even think that hours of therapy would make a difference. I've already analyzed the shit out of it and I've always been pretty self aware so talking it out wouldn't likely do anything IMO.

It sucks ASS. Completely controls your life - has you by the frigging balls.

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