January is a month we associate with fresh starts, resolutions and changes in our life and often many people decide that this year they want to lose weight. The diet and fitness industry is worth billions and often capitalises on all those people who have had one too many mince pies over the Christmas period and feel the pinch of their trousers and shirts after the festive period is packed up for another year. I decided at the beginning of November that I need to make some changes to my diet and lifestyle but I am not on a diet; I want to tackle the problem that has been my ball and chain for the past 37 years, my toxic relationship with food.
My relationship with food
I have had a toxic relationship that controls me; it plays with my emotions, makes me feel worthless and damages my health. This toxic relationship has consumed me throughout most of my life and there is no sign of it ever being any different. My relationship with food will forever be a battle of epic proportions and a fight that I have lost on many occassions.
As with any relationship, it often starts through love, I have always loved food ever since I was a child. My mother used to say that I had ‘eyes bigger than my belly’ and she was not wrong, I love food and eating; it has brought me comfort, security and excitement for most of my life. However, with many relationships, no matter how much love is you cannot escape that sometimes, the things you love can be completely toxic and impact on your ability to function in a logical and rational manner. Over these past few months I have come to realise that my relationship with food is destructive and eating away at me, I have realised that I need to take control of my life and show food who is in control.
Endless loop – the hamster wheel
It is a basic human need to eat and sustain ourselves, it is a necessity to survival but I have been using it as much more than nourishment, it has become an addiction. I have been a hamster on a wheel; eat, eat, eat and eat some more; I eat when I am happy, I eat when I am sad, I eat when I am bored and I eat when I am excited. When I talk about eating, I mean to excess; food dominates much of my life just as much as cigarettes do to a smoker (I understand as I am an ex smoker myself). I am ashamed to say that it has, at times, taken over my life and my greed has caused so many problems in my 36 years on this planet. You might be thinking ‘why would someone get themselves to the point where they eat to excess?’ and the answer is simple, it is all in my head.
Emotional and psychological eating
Food, rather than being a way of sustaining my bodily functions has always been a source of comfort to me and has often been linked to my emotions and mental health. Food has always been there for me when times got tough; through break-ups, lost friends, accidents and tragic events. Food has been a gift that always gives and never leaves you, it does not shun you when you have made a mistake or let you down when you need its comfort, food gives you a feeling of satisfaction that at least one thing is good in life when everything else crumbles around you.
It is obvious that food does not have these actual abilities, but inside my head they do; over the years I have psychologically programmed myself to use food as a source of comfort and security. It has become something I can fully control, but in doing so I have become so consumed that it has stripped me of my logic and rational thought. I have let myself use food as a comfort and in doing so have let my emotions dictate what I eat, how much I eat and when I do it. When times get tough I tend to ‘treat’ myself in the vain hope it will help me feel better or will numb the pain for a short time. I also eat when I am comfortable and happy because life is good and I want to enjoy food and all of its various flavours without a care in the world. I have become trapped in a cycle of eating for every situation and eating to excess which effects both my body and my mental health. I have come to the realisation that something needs to change in order for me to feel happier and tame the beast that is my food addiction before the effects are irreversible.
Breaking the habit
Breaking the habit will not be easy and I am well aware that this battle will one I face throughout my whole life; there will be times that I fail and have to pick myself back up and get back on top of things because that is the best I can hope to do. I know that I need to make smarter choices and plan for situations; stocking up on healthier treats rather than leaving the cupboards empty and then running to the shop for ice cream, limiting the amount I eat and not just eating for the sake of it, or to finish the contents of my plate.
I made some poor choices yesterday and ended up eating sweets just out of pure boredom; it was the last few days of school and I had got sweets and chocolate for the pupils but ended up eating a ton of them myself. Breaking my bad habits with food will to be the hardest challenge I have ever faced but I am determined to do something about it and make changes for the better.
Why declare all of this here on my blog? The answer to that Is a matter of accountability, I share this with you in the hope that it will keep me focused on achieving a better relationship with food. I have also written this for future motivation and to remind myself that no matter how down I feel, comfort does not come through food; it cannot be found wrapped up in shiny paper or fried and then covered in ketchup. Food does not define me, it does not have any control over me and I will feel so much better mentally if I stop eating for my emotions as it is a catch 22 situation.
I am fully aware that this adventure will be hard work and I will make mistakes but I know that I am determined not to let greed consume me for the sake of my children and my own health. Do any of you have a toxic relationship with food or other vices, let me know about them in the comments.
Ciao for now beauties xx