I don’t think I’ve ever had a peaceful relationship with food.
Thinking back to my teens, I had body image issues and thought I was fat even though I wasn’t (yet). I didn’t know how to eat healthy. Then I started to eat my feelings when I got into my later teens and I started to gain weight. Same with my early 20s.
My mid-twenties was rife with food issues, binge eating, obesity, body image issues. Then when I was trying to lose the weight it was a battle with portion control, ignoring hunger cues, over exercising, counting every calorie I ate. Once I got to goal weight, I suppose I gained some “peace”. I kept the weight off for 10 years by continuing to count my calories, but my exercise routine was more moderate, I instituted rest days, and I ate a little bit more than I did before. I could “enjoy” food more.
But looking back at that time period, it wasn’t really “peaceful”. My hobby was fitness and weight loss and keeping the weight off. It kind of felt like I didn’t have a full life outside of the pursuit of losing weight/keeping it off. I love hiking. But when we had Logan and he started “hiking”, I found myself doing a workout in addition to the family hike because we weren’t really hiking and I wasn’t burning many calories. See what a mean? Instead of focusing on outdoor time as a family, I was concerned about the calorie burn.
Which makes me reflect on some of my own childhood memories. When I was growing up, the thing MY family did was backpacking and hiking. I remember as a kid, 5-10 years old I think? A backpack on my back with my clothes and a sleeping bag. Not enjoying it or feeling like it was too hard. “ARE WE THERE YET”? And my dad, the ex-Marine, would tell us to pick up the pace. Now, as an adult, I realize it wasn’t a bad parenting thing he was doing, acting like we were in boot camp and needed to push through. No, it was just who he was and honestly, that’s kind of who I am now. LOL Funny how that happens. Thankfully, Logan likes “hiking” and while we DO push him to keep going, we choose short, appropriate hikes for a 4/5 year old. We know his attention span is short and we do our best.
Now here I am, 41 years old. Still not able to have a peaceful relationship with food. Still struggling. Food is often on my mind–which in the intuitive eating community and eating disorder community means you aren’t eating enough/or restricting food too much.
Recently I have stopped counting my calories in MyFitnessPal. Is that groundbreaking? I don’t know. I’ve counted my calories for 15+ years now so honestly, I can do it in my head and don’t REALLY need to log it in an app at this point. I also eat a lot of the same things every day so it doesn’t change that much. But I decided to stop to see if I can change my focus away from food and calories.
It helped a lot. It’s been almost 3 months now of not counting my calories. It felt like a big weight lifted. One less thing for me to do. One less thing on my mind. I focus less on food, less on calories, less on restriction. I have NOT gained weight as a result of not counting my calories. I still pay attention to portion sizes and try to make good choices but I am not sitting here weighing my food or counting every bite and logging every calorie.
I don’t have any answers yet. I do feel like I am focusing LESS on food and calories (Even if I sometimes still do it in my head, and even when I tell myself things like “I had bread for lunch so no bread at any other meals today”…It’s a practice. It’s something I have to remind myself of. And what really sucks? My diet is pretty good. I eat a LOT of fruits and vegetables. It’s not like we get fast food all the time. So why is this so hard? Who knows.
QUESTION: How has your relationship with food changed over the years?