Let’s talk about FOOD!
I’ve always been obsessed with food. When I can eat it, what I can eat and how I can eat more. The toughest part about food is, if you feel addicted to it, you can’t just cut it out from your life. We all need it, and everyone has such a unique relationship with what they eat.
I always wished I could have a carefree, thoughtless relationship with food and naturally gravitate towards nourishing things for my body and look great, but that’s just not real life, friends. I love me some carbs: mac n cheese, biscuits, pasta, cake–the list goes on and on. There’s nothing in this world I’d rather eat than some fresh, hot bread and butter.
One of the biggest barriers to a carefree relationship with food is my relationship with my body. I’m 5’6″ and ~140 pounds, so I’m able to cover up the parts of my apple body type which I struggle seeing. I’ve always had a belly (what even are abs?), even when I was little. Unless I want to work out super hard and cut all the fun out of my diet, I’ll never get to that flat stomach I’ve always idealized. Like most women, I’ve internalized a completely unrealistic and for the most part unattainable perception of “perfection.” Luckily, I’ve still always loved myself, even when I put too much weight (ha, ha) on trying to achieve these ridiculous goals.
Growing up, I loved junk food. My mom, thankfully, emphasized the importance of healthy eating and cooked us healthy substitutes. The problem was, I didn’t know how to balance what my body needed versus what my emotions so badly craved.
In high school, I gained a bunch of weight because I didn’t know how to stop eating carbs in the cafeteria. I really did have to go home one day after eating 6 bagels in a matter of hours. If I felt stressed, I would immediately use food to numb that feeling. I tried to restrict myself with diets and all kinds of tricks to lose the weight, but my methods were never sustainable.
The same thing happened in college, which made me feel that my entire life was going to be an endless circle of diets and weight gain. I lived by counting down each meal to the next, because I was so obsessed with eating. Since I was so focused on school, I didn’t make time for self care or my emotional well being. When I felt pangs of panic, I would immediately binge eat my brains out (think: 8 pop tarts + bags upon bags of hot cheetos). This system worked up until that point, until one day it didn’t.
Even writing this down brings back uncomfortable memories and I’m already craving potato chips with hot sauce (yes, I have weird combos and I’ll write a post about them later)! When binge eating stopped working, my brain completely switched: Emma gets stressed, Emma loses appetite.
Graduating college, I ate foods that I knew would allow me to maintain a good weight, but I wasn’t indulgent with myself, and I certainly wasn’t eating joyfully. I’d choose a soggy salad for lunch over a sandwich because it “seemed” healthier, but this was just making my cravings worse. Most importably, I never felt good about myself unless I was having a skinny moment, otherwise, I was consumed with figuring out how to get that feeling back and making it last.
Moving to Atlanta, I was away from my mom’s healthy influence again, so I couldn’t just mindlessly eat prepared food and rely on skinny moments. I had to figure out worked, because I wasn’t going to keep buying new jeans to accommodate for my detrimental relationship with food. The first thing I did was really listen to my body, and a lot of that listening resulted in admitting to myself that I didn’t like being alone in a new city. It made me uncomfortable.
Obviously, I indulged myself a lot after my move as I figured out my system. McDonald’s runs and chocolate bars started to make me feel incredibly sluggish, in addition to making me feel mentally foggy.
When I started cooking for myself, I chose cleaner foods with fewer ingredients (I’m a label-reading freak), which did wonders. Instead of obsessing over what I was ate, (aka forcing myself to be miserable and then stuffing myself later), I was now more interested in how I was choosing to eat. This allowed me to see that food wasn’t the enemy, but rather, my perception of it. I could indulge in a craving, but instead of eating the entire batch of brownies, I could have 1 or 2 whenever I felt the need. This took the pressure off of eating massive amounts of quantities of everything that I had labeled “bad” in my head.
Once I started feeling better, I accepted that my weight will always fluctuate, and I stopped focusing on the parts I didn’t like about myself in the mirror. When I have a rough week or feel bloated, I’m able to recognize when to bring myself back to what feels good for me. None of this came about from needing to maintain a certain weight (fun fact: I don’t own a scale, because who cares?), but from a place of uncomfortable tummy aches and bloating.
It was like I turned 25 and all of the sudden I was sick to my stomach from my old habits, that they no longer felt worth it. Most recently, I’ve been using an app to track my cycle, which allows me to eat more accordingly to what my body needs each week. I’ve noticed that I’m way less irritable the week before my cycle starts if I limit dairy and gluten for that time.
Don’t get me wrong, I still go a little nuts (more often than I’d like to admit), but am quickly reminded of why my old habits aren’t sustainable. I’m so excited to share some tricks that I use to avoid discomfort and support my health in upcoming posts soon, without feeling like I’m restricting myself. Hello, black bean brownies and goodbye tummy aches!
Until Next Time,
Your Sloth Goddess