Food Psych

I recently started listening to a podcast called Food Psych. I heard about it from someone on Twitter and decided to check it out. It’s about intuitive eating, breaking out of diet culture, eating disorder recovery and Healthy at Every Size.

I’ve listened to about 10 episodes so far. They are long, a little over an hour or so. Each episode starts with a Q&A and then the rest of the episode is an interview with someone new each week, depending on the topic.

I am finding it very informative and interesting.

I learned that bulimia isn’t always about throwing up after eating. It can also mean a binge and then a strict restriction period to “make up for” the binge. I did not know that.

I also learned about orthorexia.

It was interesting to hear this term and learn more about it. Reflecting on my time blogging and reading “Healthy Living Blogs” for almost a decade now, I can see clearly that that whole “thing” was probably orthorexia. Focusing on diet culture, weight loss, over-exercising, being rigid about workout schedules and only eating “healthy foods.” There was a blogger that put a carrot in a hot dog bun instead of eating a hot dog, and a bunch of other truly bizarre (and disordered) things.

I was definitely part of this culture. It makes me think long and hard about my own journey. The podcast talks about how 90% of people who lose weight cannot keep it off. I guess I fall into this category? I lost 110 pounds and kept it off for over 10 years. I think that is pretty commendable. But at the same time, I maintained my weight by strict workout schedules and very low calorie intake. I don’t know that I fall into the eating disorder category per se, but definitely the diet culture category.

Something that happened recently: Logan has been telling me repeatedly lately that he’s hungry. This is after a meal, he had plenty of food during the meal. Michael and I have questioned if he was hungry or bored. We offer “you can have applesauce or a banana or some carrots” and of course he says no. He wants the crackers or granola bar.

This has been very triggering to me. First, I remember being a kid and wanting a snack and my mom would offer fruit or vegetables only. I grew up in a very strict food house, in the 90’s when it was the all low-fat/non-fat/no-sugar craze. So we didn’t get “treats” which lead to me bingeing later.

So hearing my son tell me he’s hungry and he wants to have a sweet treat, is triggering. Michael and I have been very conscious about letting him be intuitive, not being strict with food. We don’t want him to grow up with body issues/food issues etc. I especially don’t want that because I know how it feels and what it leads to.

But here I am, Saturday afternoon when Logan has had some crackers and raisins as a snack (with watered down apple juice to drink) and he’s whining that he’s hungry and I feel MY food issues pop up and I am mixed: do I restrict him? Do I give in and potentially create not healthy eating habits?

Boys can have eating disorders, too. It’s not just girls, even if it USUALLY is girls. I don’t want Logan to grow up like I did. I don’t want him to have body shame, or become obese, etc. It’s a hard balance for me, especially since I am still trying to come to terms with my own food issues.

At one of Logan’s recent “well baby” check up appointments with his doctor, whom I REALLY liked, gave me pause. She weighed him and stuff and suggested we “monitor” his weight. I was flabbergasted. Logan has been in the 97% percentile for height his entire life. 95% sure he will be a very tall boy (my brother is 6’6) because there are a lot of tall men in both sides of the family. His weight was around the 50% percentile, as it has been his whole life as well. I didn’t question the doctor, partly because I was so surprised she even mentioned my toddler’s weight. But I left feeling like “WTF”. Logan is tall and skinny as a rail. His clothes in his size are always a little too big.

This was the first experience as a parent of “Body shaming” my kid. It stuck with me for months. And listening to Food Psych Podcast, I am hearing in these interviews of people who had their body and food issues start at a VERY young age. Like ME. I was 9 when I suddenly realized there was something “Wrong” with my body. (I was not fat in anyway, but I THOUGHT I was.)

I’m working through a lot of things right now, thinking about stuff. But I wanted to pass on the info about the podcast because I am really enjoying it and I think a lot of people will too.

5 Things I Miss About Weighing More Than 300 Pounds

A friend posted this article on Facebook and I clicked over to read the article–expecting something else entirely. What I read was the complete opposite of what I was expecting and I found myself saying “YES! I feel the same way, too!” several times. Here is that article: 5 Things I Miss About Weighing More Than 300 Pounds. Take a look because it’s a really well-written post.

She listed a few of the things she missed about weighing over 300 pounds. The first was power. I had to laugh because I could relate to that as well. When I was 250+ pounds I, too, was stronger in a lot of ways. My girth made my calves and quads pretty strong because it was supporting my weight but like this author, I could also move heavy furniture or help people move heavy things and it was no big deal.

“Being fat gave me natural physical strength. As a thin person, I have to go out of my way to be strong. Despite daily strength training I’m nowhere near as powerful as I used to be. Once upon a time I could confidently lift a couch into and out of a moving truck (a U-Haul, not a truck in motion — being fat never did give me super powers). Today, I labor under the weight of heavy things.”

I lift weights and I do what I can to build up my strength. While I’ve made leaps and bounds, I’d be lying if I said a really really strong wind couldn’t knock me over. If someone pushed me as a joke, I would seriously stumble and possibly fall (and have a few times) which is such a huge difference from when I was 250 pounds and couldn’t be pushed over. It’s a very strange idea to suddenly feel like you are “frail.”

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This next observation hit really close to home for me, especially right now with trying to lose the last few pounds before my wedding. It’s about weight fluctuations:

“When I was fat I understood that most weight changes are fleeting and insignificant. At 300 pounds, I wore clothes forgiving enough to accommodate ten pounds lost or gained, so I didn’t think much of it. Sadly, going from a size 6 to an 8 makes me nuts in a way that going from a size 26 to a 28 just never did. I miss the freedom I once had from noticing and obsessing over Every. Single. Pound.”

I admit, I teared up a little bit with that one. She expressed just how I feel (often) and it’s hard for people to understand who haven’t been obese. When the scale starts to tick up and I feel a little down because of those few extra pounds, most people don’t understand why I feel stressed or depressed about it. They say, but you’ve lost so much, it’s not a big deal. Or they say, you can lose that weight in no time! Not true, losing weight at this stage is much harder and WAY slower than it ever was when I was overweight. It takes twice the amount of work and diligence to see even 1 pound gone on the scale.

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I would also add this to what the author said–clothes fit differently now. When I was over 200 pounds I wore bigger clothes because I was bigger, obviously, but “plus” sized clothing is just built differently. It’s baggier. It’s usually got some elastic in the waist. So you don’t always notice when you go up a bit. Now? When my size 6 jeans start to feel a little tight I feel it immediately. Clothes that I buy at this weight are obviously smaller and form-fitting. When that pesky 5 pounds appears you can see and feel it!

What about this one?

“When I’m lying on my side, the feeling of knee bone on knee bone is enough to keep me up all night. I could write a whole post about how awful it feels to sit on a hard surface with a bony butt. Tail bones and hard seats: never the two should meet. “

Yep, yep, yep. I am so freakin’ bony. Seriously, I thought I was the only one that felt this way and reading that this woman experienced the same exact thing made me sigh with relief a little. I wasn’t alone. When I lay in bed at night, on my side, my knees bug me because they feel like just two knobs rubbing against each other. Russian Twists? Forget about it. I can’t do that exercise unless I have a little padding under my butt (be it a towel or pad at the gym) because it hurts my tailbone so much.

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This last observation is something I’ve written about in the past. I had a few surprising twists with friendships and relationships as I was losing my weight. But you don’t expect that it will actually happen…

“Starting and maintaining friendships was easier when I was fat. Women rarely saw me as a rival and were less self-conscious than they are around me today.”

I dated someone who tried to sabotage my weight loss every chance he got. I lost a few friends along the way that just couldn’t be happy for me, for whatever reason. The good news? I also found out just how encouraging and how supportive friends and family can be. They helped me reach my goal and gave me positive feedback that kept me going when it was really hard.

Something else I’d add to this topic…One of the things I miss about 250 pounds is being unaware. I have no idea anymore what it feels like to be carefree, worry-free and easy going when it comes to food. It’s too late to turn back. I already know how many calories are in most foods. I can take a look at something and while the Demon on my shoulder is saying Oh that looks so great EAT THAT! The Angel on my shoulder is reminding me how hard I worked to lose the weight and just how many calories are in that. It kind of takes ALL THE FUN OUT OF IT.

I talk a lot about moderation and not denying myself foods–just being smarter about what I eat and paying attention to portions. But damn, sometimes that SUCKS. Sometimes you do want to eat some ice cream and not regret it!

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Do I regret losing the weight? Hell no. I’m happier and healthier and living a life closer to my values than I ever did before. I cherish what I can do now. I feel proud of the events I’ve participated in and I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep the weight off for 6 years now. The problem is–there’s no manual for weight loss. Not really. No one tells you the changes you’ll go through, the issues you’ll come across. There aren’t any self-help books out there about how to adjust your brain and thinking after losing a massive amount of weight (I know, I’ve looked). It can be very isolating. I am the only person on the planet that feels like this…Yet, this article spoke to me in ways I didn’t even have on my radar. For that I am so grateful. I’d love to hear what experiences other people have had too!