Growing up, food was always an anchor to my memories – each holiday had its special treats; each vacation spot had its special food shop or special restaurant with that special dish.
Holiday parties and family gatherings were an education that I didn’t really need, but I took it in like it was gospel. I was always watching the women as they interacted with each other and the food. They would make comments like, “Oh I shouldn’t”, “I’ll have to walk this off”, “Have you lost weight?”, “Have you seen how much weight she’s put on?”, “Well I’d better enjoy it now cause starting Jan 1st…” All they talked about was self-control or the fact that they had no self-control at all.
The same type of messages were at home too. There were so many rules around the treats – what time of day I could have them, what I had to eat first before I could have them, if there was company over, what day of the week…rules, rules and more food rules.
I took the messages to heart and got nervous about how much I ate in front of others. The idea of savouring one piece became foreign to me. I was shoving them in when no one was looking, hoping no one saw me chewing. If I could, I would bring them into the bathroom or some other far away unpopulated area of the house or party.
I was left with the feeling that something had to be wrong with me. Why didn’t I only want one chocolate out of the box? Why did I want to try them all? Why couldn’t I be trusted with my food desires, likes and dislikes?
As I got older, the anxiety around Christmas time got worse. Heck, it had already started with the lead up to Halloween. Candy was everywhere in the grocery stores and offices. Every company had some special way to make an already delectable treat even more sensational; gingerbread, donuts, cookies…there was no escaping it!
Each year I would vow it would be different. I would scour the internet and find a new plan to follow that promised to crush my cravings. When it didn’t work, I figured it was more proof that I was flawed…it never occurred to me that maybe the restrictive process was flawed.
By the end of December my “will power” was shot and my binges were strong. Each trip to the grocery store or coffee shop led to food that was purchased and eaten alone and fast, desperately hoping no one would know. The fun of holiday feasts became a long forgotten memory. I was simply scared and wanted it all to be over. I wanted all the food to be gone. I wanted to start my New Year’s diet.
Until I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t face another diet. It got to the point that even thinking about another diet, another resolution, another Monday morning that I would begin to obsess about food; all the food that wouldn’t be allowed anymore. The mere thought of restriction led to another “last supper”. Nope, I couldn’t face that anymore. I couldn’t believe the underlying message that I couldn’t be trusted with food. I’m a smart, sassy, successful woman – no way did that make sense anymore. Surely there had to be another way.
I started to reach out and find new resources. What I learned is that the answers were here all along. I was so stuck in my head that I disconnected with my heart and my intuition. I learned that I needed to slow my mind down. Its noise was blocking out my own voice and my own body’s messages.
I learned that my body is just as smart as my head. It knows and I know when I’m hungry and when I’m full; what I like and what I don’t. When I eat, it’s because nothing else can meet my needs at that moment. That it’s ok to enjoy food simply because it tastes good; simply because it smells good, simply just because.
I look back at all the meals that I missed; it was not because I didn’t eat, but because of the chatter in my head about the food or what my friends and family thought about what I was eating. All that noise had me miss out on the experience of the meal.
Humans are social creatures. We meet around food and drink so we can share love, share tears, share stories. Traditions are built in the kitchen and spill out into the dining room. I missed it for so long. I missed the fun, the laughter and the love.
My freedom to feast was always with me. It was right here. And it’s in you. All you have to do is trust your magical self.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.