Nick

My relationship with food is on the rocks

Another post from the annals of Nicholosophy. At this rate, I should just add my blog to the fat-o-sphere feed…

Warning: I mention weight loss diets. I’m certainly not advocating them though. I also mention the word diet in the context that it is meant, that is “Course of living or nourishment; what is eaten and drunk habitually; food; victuals; fare”.

I have always been a fast eater. For some reason it is as if there is a competition to finish my meal as fast as possible. I remember as a kid going to Sizzler, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. I’d be so happy to finish my meals as quickly as possible because it meant I could go back and get more, and more and more. I’d always make myself sick and feel overfull by the time I finished and went home with my parents.

Then there were the times when I’d be on Weight Watchers or other diets. The most successful time for me on WW was in 1999 and 2000. I lost a heap of weight, but it was my mum who was monitoring what I was eating for me. She’d make my lunches and dinner to be compliant with the plan. It worked until such time as I had to take control of my own food management and it all fell over.

All these sorts of experiences have shaped how I deal with food today. I still know the points value for some foods, not that I use them any more. I still know that certain things would be approved on WW and can sometimes see myself move away from something I want to something I think I should have. I also have the other side where I think “I’m fat, it doesn’t matter what I eat” and I just grab anything I feel like.

You know, there are times where I eat things and I feel guilty about it before I eat it. So I’ll go and hide myself away to eat it so I don’t get seen eating it. The fact that eating makes me feel guilty shows me that I have an unhealthy relationship with food.

I suffer from reflux, so I’m not meant to eat things with caffeine in them, like coffee and chocolate. Curry isn’t a good idea, nor is fatty food, tomatoes and a few other things that will set me off. Eating fast isn’t good either, and as mentioned I’ve always been a fast eater. I have learned that a little bit here and there is OK, so like most things it’s about moderation, not complete removal.

When I first was told this, it wasn’t moderation. It was nothing at all. Now instead I’ve had “real” coffee for breakfast, not decaf. I had curry last night for dinner. I had baked beans for dinner (contains tomato sauce). I had Red Rooster for lunch. I had a chocolate later on this evening. If I had just had one or two of these things, I’d be OK but instead I’m now suffering a massive reflux attack (I’m writing this at 1am for that reason). So I’ve gone from one extreme to the other, and this is what I used to do when I was stuck in the weight loss diet round-a-bout.

A real diet is about learning what makes your body happy. It means I am only restricted by what I think works best for me. I won’t give up chocolate, but I just need to remember to moderate it and listen to my body. By eating slower and taking the time to listen to my body, I get the chance to hear my body say “hey, back up. I’m full”, or “OK, this is making you feel sick, you might want to reconsider.”

A real diet is about feeling good about food and not denying yourself something because of some arbitrary “good” or “bad” label. Some foods I won’t touch because I know the moment I do, I’ll feel crook. For example, I avoid pastry if I can tell my stomach is a bit dodgy today.

Learning to understand food is important to me, and I think it is something that everyone has to deal with at some stage. My relationship with food has been on the rocks for years, but I can’t file for divorce. I’ve got to fight a good fight and get it back on track. Fat or otherwise, food is something that everyone has to deal with. Learning about how my body works and what foods make it feel good and bad (rather than being labelled “good” and “bad”) is something I think has to be a priority.

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  • Len

    Oh Nick I sympathise, I too suffer the dreaded reflux attacks. And have had to let up on myself in terms of what I choose to eat for my own comfort. It certainly isn’t restricting calories, I don’t want to do that to myself. It’s just making sure I can get a night’s sleep – and I too slip up from time to time, sometimes deliberately and sometimes because I just can’t be bothered worrying about it at the time.

    I think you’re right, it’s something that we will all become more aware of at some stage. But it has been a ‘good’ thing in that it has helped me to accept my body as part of my self, and to value my self enough to be good to my body. Your post here has resonated on absolutely every level. Good luck – and get some sleep!

  • Katrina

    I know how everybody says “eat food slower, you’ll digest it better and therefore get more nutritional goodness out of it and will know when you are full so you won’t have to get that awful overstuffed feeling”, but I completely sympathize with your Sizzler plight… it’s terribly difficult to eat slowly!

    My father grew up the youngest in a family of seven kids and mealtimes were always a competition to eat the food before your siblings ate it first. I’ve somewhat “inherited” this behaviour from sharing meals with my dad throughout childhood, even though I was an only child and there was no element of urgency or competition in my household at all!

    I completely agree that a real diet is about avoiding “good” and “bad” labels and just eating what makes you feel happy. I might *think* that chocolate makes me feel happy, prior to and during eating it, but after eating it, I don’t feel happy. Whereas eating strawberries makes me feel happy the entire way through.

    And Weight Watchers is another thing entirely… I know people on Weight Watchers and the points systems are a bit ridiculous, for example, fresh fruit has zero points (even though its full of sugars, which though natural, are still sugars… even bananas are zero points even though they are essentially simple carbohydrates). Don’t even get me started on the ritualistic and humiliating weigh ins, I don’t think that’s motivational at all!

    “My relationship with food has been on the rocks for years, but I can’t file for divorce.” <– I love this sentence.

    Anyway good luck managing your reflux and finding out what foods make you happy. You've articulated what my own relationship with food is so beautifully and accurately.

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