Thursday, September 29, 2011

An Intro to "Food Fight!!!!"

Battles and Vices

Everyone has their methods of coping with negativity in their life. Some people go shopping if they have a bad day. Some hit the treadmill if they’ve had a fight with their boyfriend. There is also the group that feels the need to clean everything when they are stressed. These are all habits that can begin forming in childhood, and can be picked up from parents, or peers.

How do I deal with a bad day, not getting the job I wanted, or my Jeep breaking down (again)? Food. For as long as I can remember, I have had a codependent relationship with food. When my parents were fighting, I felt like I had no control. I would seek to gain control in the kitchen. Sometimes, I would just open the cupboards and look for something appealing that may make me feel like I was in charge.

Maybe my sister hurt my feelings, or my brother frustrated me. Food also gave me kind of a high. It emotionally satisfied me. Was I feeling sad? I would go get a Hostess something-or-other, take it back to my room, and suddenly I felt like I could be happy again.

That last thing I said is key. I took it back to my room. My relationship with food was not something I was proud of. I would sneak food, ashamed and fearful of being caught (as if I would get in trouble for eating), and then eat quickly— in a place no one would disturb me in the house. This was usually either my bedroom, the bathroom, or if I wanted a quick fix, I would just duck into whatever room was closest.

Everything changed for me when I went to college. I was still ashamed of eating in front of people, so for the first two weeks, I avoided the cafeteria. It was a big place full of people whom I didn’t know. I had some snacks in my room that my dad left me with, which I rationed out. But soon, my food was gone. So I stopped eating. Completely. When I passed out twice in one day (probably due to dehydration and low blood sugar) and had to be taken to the hospital, I knew that I needed to conquer my fears. I took a deep breath and went to the cafeteria with some of my dorm mates.

I took me a few years to fight back my fears, but eventually I was able to walk into the cafeteria, get something to eat, and find someplace to sit. I still had a few moments here and there of panic when I couldn’t find anyone to sit with and ended up eating alone, but I was still able to calm down enough to eat. And guess what? I survived college.

I am now 29. So, where does that leave my relationship with food? I still have issues. I have tried different diets, fasting, swearing off fast food, swearing off pop, going vegan, and dieting with one “cheat day” a week. You name it, I’ve tried it. But, I’ve not found a lot that works. I think it is partly because I don’t always care about my health. Sometimes I just want a big, juicy cheeseburger with fries and a Dr. Pepper. But, once I allow myself one cheeseburger, burrito, or Panini, it’s all down hill.

I am extremely hard on myself and will beat myself up over these small failures. Instead of getting up, dusting off my britches, and moving forward, I say, “Well you already screwed up this morning. What’s the point of eating healthy the rest of the day?” And that one day turns into two. Then three. Then, pretty soon, I find that an entire week of eating quick-and-easy food has gone by.

I’m competitive, stubborn, and prideful. Which basically amounts to: I hate failing (even in small ways), I don’t like to give up (so I’m really hard on myself if I do), and I don’t like to ask for help (or admit that I even need help). For someone who has issues with food, these are all lethal combinations.

Twelve days ago, I began a diet that eliminates all processed foods. I wanted to detox all the junk out of my body and slowly add in healthy versions of what I was eating. This was partly from just coming to terms with what I was actually choosing to eat— how many chickens come together to make that one chicken tender? Which part of the cow is that beef really from? What is a hotdog, anyways?? Do I even want to know? Absolutely not. It would probably freak me out. But those emotions— those drove me to make a decision.

I am completely capable of taking charge of my life. I can fight this battle— and win! I can tell myself “no.” I can look my fears and failures straight in the eye and say, “You do not define who I am.” I can look at a heaping bowl of fresh, steamed vegetables and know that those nutrients are exactly what my body needs— even if I don’t want to eat them. I can learn to like the texture of a smoothie with a pound of spinach in it. I can learn that caffeine is only harming my body and controlling me.

And so, I write. Writing has always been something therapeutic for me. I have had diaries or journals since I was 10. But why keep it to myself? I am going to be giving the world a peek inside my journey. This blog is a glimpse inside the messy, emotional struggles of a woman battling her addictions with food. I will be posting the good, the bad, and the ugly. My hopes are that women and men alike will feel more comfortable coming to terms with their own food issues.

Reader beware: food fights are never clean. All participants leave looking like a “hot mess.” ::insert picture of food fight::

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