What is food?
Answering this seemingly common sense question was not only the key to finally ending the never ending diet yo-yo circuit but it also was one of the hardest things I had to do.
I know this question seems obvious but do your REALLY know and understand what food is??
I certainly didn’t.
For the majority of my life I had an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. Let me put it this way.. if food was a person we would be on the Dr Phil show daily.
I loved food. If I’m really honest with myself it was really the anchor of my crazy life.
It was my comfort. A bad day was instantly better with a sleeve of Oreos or a tub of cookie dough.
It was my companion. Long road trips were made better with a bag of Cheetos as my co-pilot.
It was my medicine. Not feeling good… ooh let’s try a broccoli cheese bread bowl with extra baguette.
It was my therapy. Heartbreaks were eased by pizza. Anxiety kept at bay by heading to my Mom for a big comfort meal.
It was my entertainment. Bored? Well nachos will help.
It was my social solution. Friends in town? Ooh where are we going to go eat?
I always went back to food. It became central
to my life.
But here was the problem… food was never enough. The bad times started to take more than just cookie dough. So I would add more and More and MORE.
Food was not always positive in my life. In fact, it was almost like a drug. So when I dieted I would go through major withdrawals… longing for food. And I would end up failing and going back to my unhealthy relationship. I thought I needed food to get through my crazy life.
Starting in college I started to become a big binge eater. I was a busy student with no time for breakfast or lunch so I’d skip those meals and then when I’d get home from a long Day I’d “make up for lost time” and eat an insane amount of food. I simply thought it was okay because I hadn’t eaten all day so I had to “catch up”.
When I became a wife and mother my problems with food increased because I started to use food to aid my kids problems too. “Here let Mommy make you some cookies so you feel better”. It cured my problems so it should cure theirs right?
As my kids grew food became more and more of a “guilty pleasure” for me. I was so busy as a working Mom that again I would not stop and eat during my day but when I got home I was too embarrassed to really gorge myself of food in front of my family. So I became kind of a late night food addict. My kids would go to sleep, my husband was working so I’d just sit, watch tv, and eat late into the night.
Food then came the shackles around my legs when I wanted to change my life. I could not diet… I was ALWAYS hungry. I was convinced that something was just wrong with me because other people were not as hungry as me. I remember crying in my doctors office telling her that I needed weight loss surgery because I simply was just too hungry to diet. I just needed to shrink my stomach or I wouldn’t be able to do this. I wasn’t strong enough.
So when I hit rock bottom and had to do something I started to do a lot of research and I started to see that the reason I was always hungry was because the feelings I was feeling were NOT hunger. Those feelings were boredom, stress, exhaustion, sometimes thirst but not hunger.
That’s why food was never enough because it wasn’t hunger going on. So not matter how many slices of pizza I was having that “hunger” remained.
So I started to take a hard look at my relationship with food and I have spent the last year learning about what food is and what it is not.
Food is fuel. Plain and simple. It can’t fix a bad day. It can’t make you feel better. It is simply the gasoline in the car. It is not a reward. It is not a friend. It is energy… Period.
This switch in my thinking has been the key to my success. I have now learned how to identify the cues in my body of true hunger. When I’m truly hungry I eat. I can now feel my body getting tired and needing more energy. So I eat. Whether I’m busy or not I know when I feel hungry I need fuel and so I eat. I put priority to a good breakfast, a good lunch. Consistent fuel throughout my day. No more binging as my fuel tank can only take so much.
This has not been an easy process. I have a lifetime of bad food habits to overcome but I’m in a good spot with food now and things are dramatically improved. Sure I have my moments but I’m definitely more aware of them.
So take the time to really get to know what food is. Research it. Learn what types of fuel you should use. I have learned about fueling myself with fat and not just carbs. I have learned what foods will fill me up and what foods will leave me wanting more.
Fixing your relationship with food is crucial to success so start today and start small. Question your hunger today. If you are hungry an hour after breakfast maybe you are simply thirsty so drink a large glass of water. Or maybe you are just stressed and need to walk around a bit. Start paying attention to your body’s true cues of hunger. Once you learn those you will finally know when and what you should eat.