This is one of the posts that I am writing as if no one is reading. There are things I want to get off my chest, for my own sake. I hope that they will resonate with some of you and not offend any of you.
First, some context.
I don’t usually talk about my weight loss journey here. It started so long ago (late 1999) and it didn’t take me all that long to reach my goal weight (early 2001). What did take a long time (ten years?) was normalizing my relationship with food. I don’t even like that phrase–“relationship with food”–because I’m not sure that food is something I should even have a relationship with, but I can’t think of a better way to put it.
In December 2010, I wrote this post for Fitblogger, celebrating my “new-found freedom from food struggles.” I think most of what I wrote then is true for me today, but I recognize that I still have some food issues that I want to come clean about.
You can see from my posts that I don’t follow a strict diet. I eat bread, burgers, fries, and chocolate on a regular basis. I have a beer or a glass of wine almost every day. But I’m not completely carefree about my food. There are certain things that make me feel guilty–that induce an adrenaline rush of shame that reminds me that I still bear scars from my dieting days.
- Eating a whole deli sandwich. I usually only eat half, pull off some of of the meat and cheese, or only eat one piece of bread.
- Eating a whole bagel. Again, I usually only eat half.
- Eating a whole bakery brownie. I love the Starbucks brownies, but cut one into thirds and eat it over three days.
- Drinking a whole can of Coke. I was a Coca-Cola junkie in college, with a 6-pack a day habit that I could not afford. I switched to Diet Coke in law school, but now I’d rather go thirsty than drink that. Every once in a while I crave a Coke, but I usually pour into a small glass with ice so I only drink about half of a can.
- Eating a whole burger and fries. I usually eat my burger with a fork, so I don’t eat the bun, and then enjoy the fries.
- Eating a whole ice cream cone. If I eat the whole thing–cone and all–I feel gross. If I throw away the cone (with some ice cream still inside) I feel better. Not sure how much of that is physical and how much is psychological.
Writing this out, the pattern is obvious. I generally live by the saying “everything in moderation,” but my definition of “moderation” seems to be “half.”
There’s nothing wrong with that. I know portion sizes are too big. I know half of a restaurant serving probably is about right for a normal serving. But what I wanted to come clean about is the feelings I have when I eat more than my mind tells me I should, even if my body is hungry for more, or the food is really delicious, or I’m stuck in a meeting, or stressed, or just plain bored, or any of all those other reasons that I might keep noshing. If I had a healthy relationship with food (or a non-relationship with food?) eating too much might make me feel physically sluggish, but it wouldn’t make me feel emotionally vulnerable.
Maybe all this is why the recent trend of “eating clean” gets under my skin. I generally understand what people mean when they say that they are “eating clean” or following a “clean” diet, and I’m sure that they don’t mean any harm by using those words, but when you classify certain types of food as “clean” what does that make all the other foods–dirty? If I were trying to following a clean diet, and ate something that didn’t make the cut, I think those labels would make me feel even worse. (If I were in a relationship with Food, Food probably would tell me that I am too sensitive.)
So if you write, post, or tweet about your “clean” diet, and notice that I’ve unfollowed you, don’t take it personally. I am just protecting myself from the disordered eating demons that I have worked so hard to leave behind.
Is there a “healthy” trend that you just can’t get on board with?