If you’ve read this blog of mine before, you’ll know I’ve struggled with eating issues in the past and still do to some extent if I’m totally honest.
Sharing my story and being openly vulnerable with you, dear reader, has been so important in removing the shame I feel about these struggles and has helped me to start walking a new path where I don’t always turn to food in times of need.
It’s been quite a journey and I’ve come to realise that my relationship with food is complex and has various facets to it. Indeed, I’ve realised that I turn to food for different reasons – not all bad – and have different types of relationships with food.
I know we all have our battles with whatever our drugs of choice is (shopping, TV, food, drugs, alcohol, sex, ego, people pleasing) and so I’m sharing these thoughts with you in the hope that they can be an aid to you in some way, however small.
I LOVE food. I love eating it and get so much pleasure from showing love by cooking for others. It’s in the kitchen that I have my greatest amount of peace as my mind focuses on measurements and recipes. It’s when baking that I find flow and lose all track of time. This will always be part of my relationship with food – it brings me great joy and I wouldn’t want to live without it.
I’ve become aware that, for the most part, when I use food negatively, it is to supress how I feel and to keep my emotions on lock down. Boredom, fear, anger, pain, hurt, worry, anticipation…food is something I have used in the past to push these feelings down.
I’ve learnt that there’s a healthier way to live though – by letting these feelings be felt and admitting when I don’t feel ok. I now realise that, even if owning my feelings leads to things getting messy (relationships breaking down, arguments, letting go of people in order to set healthy boundaries for myself), I would always prefer to speak up and acknowledge my emotions than silence myself through stuffing feelings down with food.
I no longer want to wear a mask that says ‘I’m perfectly sorted’ when inside I’m aching with pain.I don’t want to use food to suppress myself anymore.
I’ve never been attracted by the bad boy type but I’m lured by the dangerous oblivion that food can bring to my life.
I can usually look at food with a rational mind and know that disordered eating is not a place I want to go…it’s dangerous for me. But like people in these bad but oh-so-good relationships, there are times when I just want to say ‘f*ck it’ and run back to into the arms of food for a moment of temporary oblivion. If I’m honest, I did that when I had finished this blog and was worried about what you would think of this post, dear friend. 1 brownie, some crisps and a cookie later, I’m back where I started, worried and feeling slightly sick. You see, this bad boy that is my unhealthy relationship with food never delivers what I think it will.
It’s only through the experience of getting burnt again and again that I am slowly learning that the moments of oblivion are not worth the price. That I’m better off living a life without chaotic dalliances with food. That I’m worth more than that.
I’ve started to step away from this ‘bad relationship’ with food only recently in the grand scheme of things. As I walk along this new path, I often feel sorry for myself, saying:
Why me? Why am I still burdened with this struggle? Will food always be a vice in my life? Will I ever be free from this trap?
I recently listened to the Savage Lovecast (which is a rude but brilliant podcast) and the presenter, Dan Savage, responded to a caller who was devastated over a relationship break up. Dan pointed out that the caller had only been separated from his girlfriend for 2 months and that it often takes longer to get over a relationship. So he advised the caller take care of himself – put routines in place that are healthy, do things that make him happy, and be gentle on himself if he needed time to cry or grieve. This mirrors my relationship with food and leads me to accept that getting over this break up isn’t going to happen overnight.
I want to learn from Dan – put routines in place, do more of what makes me happy and be gentle with myself.
I sometimes feel that I’m not enough in life. This is changing and I am challenging this internal dialogue, knowing that I am enough just as I am. However, I’ve got a remnant of this ‘not enough’ fear in my life and food is still my safety blanket.
So, to bring myself comfort and keep a feeling of security close at hand, I have a cupboard full 0f vegan treats stashed away. Yes, partly it’s because I do vegan swaps, sending and receiving weird and wonderful food with vegans all over the world, but it is also (if I’m honest) partly because I want to have something – some food – to fall back on if the world gets too hard and I feel unable to cope by myself.
In the same way that I’ve stopped taking food with me ‘just in case‘ I can’t cope by myself, I know I need to stop buying food to have at home ‘just in case‘.
My eyes are suddenly open to the fact that I’m more likely to overeat and bury my emotions, more likely turn to this bad relationship with food, more likely to find myself unable to get over this break-up if I keep buying this food in my house.
I know it has to stop.