My Rocky Relationship with Food

In some of these posts, I have been tempted to really go in deep about my personal relationship with food.  My whole reasoning for doing the Whole 30 was to get better insight on my relationship with food and perhaps establish better habits in the future.  I also wanted to better understand what certain foods and ingredients were doing to me.

When I was younger, I was blessed with good genes.  I was pretty active as a kid and never had any kind of weight issues beyond my chubby toddler stage.  We don’t have very many overweight people in my immediate family.  This is kind of an accomplishment considering I was raised in an Italian family that consumed pasta as much as water.  I remember bringing chicken parmesan to school for my lunch in kindergarten and having to have my bag put in the fridge in the teachers’ lounge.  We never were allowed fast food and I would be jealous of the Happy Meals other kids got to have.  I mean….YOU GOT A TOY WITH IT!  We were very strapped for cash too, when I was younger, and I think I associated the lack of Happy Meals with being poor.

Fast forward to High School, I had a job and I had money to spend on things I wanted.  My choices were not the best either.  I went to town on Taco Bell, McDonald’s and every other fast food chain that would hand you food you ordered within minutes.  It was quicker and it was good.  My metabolism at the time was just right too.  I gained nothing from eating like total shit.  My standard day in High School was this:

AM:  Cereal and Toast

Lunch:  School Lunch – that was typically pizza or tacos with Milk and a few Little Debbie Snack cakes (hello dessert!)

Snack:  More Little Debbies….because WHY NOT?

PM:  After school, and before (insert sport) practice, I would go through McDonalds drive through and grab a 69 cent Cheeseburger.  Then a few hours later I would eat with my parents – whatever they had going on.

This wasn’t the worst but it certainly wasn’t the best in terms of eating habits.  I was in a lot of sports though and my weight did not reflect this diet.

College….HELLO FRESHMAN 15….or should I say 20?  Probably more.

When I went to college, I had even more opportunities to eat like total garbage.  But…now I added drinking like total garbage.  This resulted in a weight gain that really did sneak up on me and that I was in denial of for quite a while.  I didn’t own a scale but I knew my clothes had gotten tighter.  At that time, however, girls wore tight clothes.  This was the era that the tube top and tight jeans really found a home. My standard day in college:

AM: Chips or a breakfast sandwich from McDonalds in the Student Center

AM Snack:  Chips or Granola

Lunch:  Fast Food – typically Taco Bell, McDonalds again or another sandwich shop in the Student Center

Snack:  Get home from class and make a hot dog or sandwich/ramen

PM:  I would typically skip dinner and just go out drinking.  When I would get home, though, I would order pizza or get a burrito that was literally the size of my head.  Yes….they advertise “Burritos the size of your head”.

I remember it really hit me that my body had changed when I came home to visit my parents during my sophomore year.  I was standing next to the washing machine and my dad looked at me from the side and said “Oh you have a cute little beer belly”.   He might as well have stabbed me right through the heart.  It was so harsh but….he was right.  I went from weighing 117 pounds in High School to weighing about 140 pounds while I was at College.  The numbers alone I guess don’t sound terrible but on a 5 foot 4 inches body….I looked a little hefty.

Now even though I had more options as I got older with food there was also another issue I developed.  Eating food made me feel better.  I’m sure everyone by now knows the phrase “eating your feelings” but my issues went beyond that.  I just enjoy eating food I like whether I’m happy, sad or just neutral.   I also really like eating when I’m bored, which I’m very easily bored.  My eating habits just couldn’t be solved by fixing one thing.  Many things contributed to them.  Sadly, I didn’t really understand this until years later…

I did try to eat better and work out more, but I only lost maybe 5 pounds and then my weight kind of stayed the same through the rest of my 20s.

Turning 30, my body changed again.  Although, I was eating better and working out twice a week, I was gaining weight.  I would put myself on diets and be ok for a few days.  But right at the 4th or 5th day, I would be upset I didn’t see more of a difference, be triggered by a McDonalds sign and give up the diet right then and there for a Big Mac.

I would set unrealistic, out of the blue, rules for myself:

*No Bread

*No Carbs at all

*No eating Dinner

*No eating after 6pm

This made absolutely no difference and made me more miserable.  Tom and I had started dating around this time.  We went on a trip together to St Louis and I made a decision that weekend I was going to eat healthy and work out and I was not going to give up.  I was tired of not feeling good.  I was tired of not liking myself.  I was tired of feeling gross.  And this time…..I stuck to it and it worked.

It took me a year to lose the weight and keep it off.  What I mean is that it took about 7 months to lose the weight but a full year to be in a place where I was on a normal schedule again with working out and food.

I needed to totally change, not only what I ate but, my habits around that.  That is not easy to do.  I’ve actually read before that it can take years to break bad eating habits.  So many things can trigger people.  Things like hearing a fast food advertisement, seeing a sign, seeing a picture….and believe it or not I’m occasionally triggered by an emoji.  I mean the pizza emoji….come on….now that looks good.

This all being said… can’t possibly give up everything that is good.  You need to enjoy your life too.  I’m just trying to say that things need to be enjoyed in moderation.  I like beers and I like pie.  And there is not a chance in hell I’m never going to drink and eat those things again.  Telling yourself you can never have something only makes you want it more.

Writing this all out actually makes me feel a lot better.  I’ve always been really hard on myself about these issues.  I grew up thinking that if you were thin and healthy, you were better.  I know it sounds like very narrow thinking but I think a lot of women feel this way growing up.  We need to fit this mold in order to be looked at as having a good life.  It took me a long time to realize that feeling good about yourself needs to come within.  You just can’t compare yourself to others because everyone is different.  You have to really understand that there is no perfect weight, perfect height or perfect life status.  Although family or friends may try to tell you different, at the end of the day you are left with yourself.  How YOU feel about yourself really matters most and is what will ultimately drive you to make changes if you need to.


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