Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Confession: Food Obsession

This post was inspired by Laura@Pretty Little Words recent post about body image.  It only scratches the surface of my thoughts on body image, self confidence and my "food obsession." There's already another post in the works, but as this is already sooo wordy I thought I'd break it up.

Image: winnond /

In my teens and early twenties, I ate lots of processed food: Pop-Tarts, Toaster Strudels, McDonald's Hash Browns, marshmallows straight out of the bag, ramen noodles etc. The list could go on ad nausem. It was what I had eaten at home; it didn't occur to me that I could choose differently. I didn't spend any time thinking about my meals. I ate when I was hungry (which was all the time) and I ate without regard to the consequence. I can probably count the number of times I cooked a real meal for myself on a single hand. I spent precious little energy thinking about my next meal; I just ate whatever I wanted, whenever and where ever.

There were no rules. In that aspect, it was a simpler time.

And yet, the amount of mental energy that I spent on hating myself for being fat, hating myself for being so physically uncomfortable in my own body, was (and still is) unbelievable. I yearned most every day with the fiercest desperation to be thin, to be attractive, to not be me.

That was the crux of it. I didn't want to be me. I hated myself as a direct result of the food that I was putting into my mouth, but wasn't cognizant enough to realize it.

I tried, and tried, for many years to lose the weight. Every time I failed, I blamed it on myself. I hated myself even more for it. I remember sitting in a corner in my college apartment, wrapped in a comforter, sobbing into a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby wondering why I couldn't be a normal weight. To this day, seeing pictures of myself at that age and weight evoke the sadness I felt at that time in my life.

Eventually, I managed to find my way to a healthier weight. It's taken many years, but I've also quieted the little negative nattering voice in my head that tells me I'm a laundry list of unhappy adjectives.  And all the energy I used to spend hating myself? I direct it into keeping myself healthy, fit and lean.

Because of that fact, I spend a substantial amount of time thinking about food. So much time that I often find myself wondering if I have a new style of eating disorder. I'm constantly thinking about ways to keep my diet in line. New ways to cook my chicken, new treats to come up with.

Back in June of 2009, when I started that final trek towards a healthy weight, I realized that I would never be able to eat like a "normal" person. I won't be able to have a "normal" relationship with food.

You'll notice that I keep putting normal in quotes.

With the current obesity statistics, the new normal is overweight or even obese. Frankly, as that's what I'm seeking to prevent, I don't wish to be normal. I want to be abnormal.  I will likely always have to log at least 80% of my food intake at CalorieKing, but I will never go down the blog meal pictures 3x daily route. Though as I write this, I can understand why some bloggers do this.  If they're not recording their food intake elsewhere, the blog (with pictures) is a convenient tool.

I think the reason I end up spending so much time thinking about food is because making healthy food takes work. We live in a society that values convenience, the most readily available foods being of questionable nutrition.  Given all that, I don't think my confessed food obsession is so bad. I'd much rather spend my time trying to create creative, satisfying and healthy food than crying into a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about food? How do you handle it? Lemme know in a comment below!