Long before I became a dietician, I was on vacation in Florida when I reached into the cookie jar and took out three cookies. I only have three, that will be it I told myself. Everyone else was on the beach and I was left to do something good for me.
Not even 10 minutes later, I had eaten 12 cookies. Feeling guilty and annoyed at my "weakness," I cursed myself for losing control again. It was me against the food, and the food almost always won.
At this point in my life, I've tried incredibly hard to stick to "healthy" food to stay thin. However, it never worked out long until I broke everything in sight and started. At the time, I lived with roommates who apparently ate without thinking, and I would jealously watch them. What was wrong with me that I could not eat carefree and they could? Why could they look at the food seemingly neutral, while for me every day was a struggle between me and what I wanted to eat, but did not want to leave me? How did it happen that I was so involved in the diet culture (1
"Just eat and do not think about it that much," my friend told me. I looked at him as if he had three heads. Impossible I thought.
Two decades later, as a Registered Dietitian (and someone who has worked a lot on her own things), I can clearly see what's going on: Control what I ate by looking at food as an enemy I did day by day had to defeat for day. I was trapped in an endless war with myself and with food. It just made me frustrated, angry and deprived, not just because of the food, but also because of the social experiences associated with the food. The need for control came to me from fear – fear that I'm eating too much, afraid I'm gaining weight. But the firmer I held on, the more I felt the need to let go. And that's just another cycle of bingeing, followed by a restriction followed by a bingeing. Really, the food had become my enemy.
I wish I could tell you that it was easy to change my relationship with food, but it was not. It was a process that took several years, but I finally did.
I asked my doctor and a nutritionist for help. I also confided in friends who shared their food issues with me, and all these things helped me a lot. There are so many more psychic resources today than back then. It was more of a secret thing that people did not like to talk about openly, and my awareness of professional support for these kinds of problems was really low. That said, I knew that I still had the privilege to access all the services and professionals that helped me. Many people can not afford to consult a nutritionist. Some do not have a doctor or can not afford one to help with their nutritional problems. I was fortunate enough to have friends who actually contacted each other and told me that they were worried about me and willing to help me with all of this.
Gradually, I experimented with the cedation of control by first exposing myself to the food I wanted but not eating. Slowly I realized that my urge for Binge had abated after giving up a bit of control and sometimes eating more. I felt less miserable. And I began to reconcile much better with my Hunger and Wealth Hints since I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full. By and by, eating was not an enemy that I had to conquer or control, it was just, well, food.
After changing my attitude to prevent food from being inherently risky and dangerous, I allowed myself what I wanted when I wanted to. As I did so, I realized that I no longer felt the urge to eat everything at once. It was no longer a feast or a famine in my head. I felt much better physically and for the first time in years I felt emotionally free. I can not deny that at first I was afraid to make these changes and I went back a few times. But at some point my new habits have stayed.
Do I still sometimes go beyond the point of fullness? Naturally! And if I do, I can see it the way it is: a perfectly normal way to eat and to refer to food – but neither my way to eat and to refer to food. For me, transforming food as an archenemy into something completely neutral has been an essential step toward a healthier relationship with food and my body.
If you're interested in researching and dismantling food labels, you should know this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help from a professional. Talking to a licensed therapist or a registered dietitian (or both!) Who has experience in helping people clarify their relationship to food can make a big difference. For me and for my patients. In fact, I doubt that these revelations occurred to me without the help of professionals. As I said earlier, this took time and introspection and work. If you can not afford any of these professionals or do not have access to them, contact the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) around the clock and for information about free and low-cost support options in the US
Of course We all just want to eat and not think about it that much, but it's not that easy. Changing your relationship with food takes time and is a lifetime commitment for many people. You are not alone, trust me.