Hello Everyone and Welcome to JGC Blog.
Today, we are tackling a subject impacting many aspects of our health whether it is physical, mental or emotional. Nobody likes to talk about it. However, I believe that many people can relate. I can. So I’m talking.
As a Demi Lovato fan, I’ve watched her documentary called “Simply Complicated”. She went through a lot during her short life and candidly shared her struggles with us (with excellent music playing in the background) and there is one part of the documentary that really struck a core inside of me.
At one point Demi talks about her long struggle against eating disorder and her relationship with food:
“Food is still the biggest challenge in my life and it controls… I don’t want to give it the power and say that it controls my every thought, but… it’s… something that I’m constantly thinking about: body image, what I’m going to eat next, what I wish I could be eating, what I wish I didn’t eat. You know, it’s just constant.
Like I get envious towards people that don’t struggle with an eating disorder just because I feel like my life would be so much easier.”
– Demi Lovato in Simply Complicated
When I heard that, I was stunned by how much I could relate to her words. The almost exact same words could have come out of my mouth and she managed to express that awfulness with an accuracy that scared the hell out of me. While I was impressed by her honesty, it also rattled me badly because damn, did that mean that my weird-ass relationship with food was in reality an eating disorder?
So I’ve decided to ask myself six hard questions and see if my responses could bring me any clarity towards what my struggle with food might be called.
How much do I think about food?
A lot, if I’m honest.
I’m pretty sure I ponder what I’m going to eat way too much during the day. It’s kind of my first thought in the morning after saying hello to God.
I have a job that requires a lot of focus and so does my blog. I have an active social life and friends who keep me on my toes and so does my family. However, when all of those things are not on my mind, food is. What am I going to eat today, what am I eating for breakfast? what am I eating for lunch? what’s in my fridge for dinner?
If I am searching for ways to relax or enjoy myself, my mind is automatically adding food into the mix. I suppose I view it as a comfort and even sometimes one of the highest (if not the highest) part of the day.
As I’m writing this, it’s clear to me that while I’m almost constantly thinking about food, I don’t fantasize about it or anticipate my meals with glee. I’m preoccupied with what I’m going to eat and even anxious at times.
Do I sometimes starve myself?
I just can’t do it. Maybe it’s the fact that, coming from a poor background, I do know what it feels like to be really hungry and not having any food to quench that hunger. It’s awful and I never want to feel that way again.
Now that I’m an adult with a steady income, I never starve and I will always be grateful for that. So I eat.
Now, the trick question is: Do I sometimes want to starve myself? The answer is no.
I often wish I could eat less, that is true enough but could I take it a step further and cut myself off despite the destructive effect that it would have on my health? No.
Do I eat three meals a day?
Most of the times.
It really takes a heavy lunch for me to skip dinner and if I do, it’s because I’m feeling bloated. I never skip breakfast or lunch and I could not function without at least my cup of coffee in the morning.
Since the point of this exercise is to be honest, I’m going to be blunt: I might be eating three meals a day but while my lunch is filling, my dinner is often light. It’s just enough so I don’t go to be bed feeling hungry.
I also don’t snack between meals anymore. Ever. Not even when someone offers me a treat, I just politely decline. I’m a huge chocolate fanatic and I used to sneak one chocolate tablet every week in my office drawer but now? I just don’t eat between meals. Also, I have lingual braces so, eating between meals is a hassle and definitely not worth it anymore.
To summarize: I do eat three meals a day and rarely skip one but it does happen. Also, those three meals are not always filling.
Do I eat healthy?
I tried for years to stick to a healthy diet with spinach, and lettuce and nuts… I tried to cut off coffee and limit my sugar intake… I even tried to go gluten free for a month. None of those methods motivated me. As a matter of fact, I was miserable.
People should not forget that food is very much like a drug, similar to a rush of euphoria and who doesn’t want to constantly feel happy? The danger lies in the way of thinking that if something feels good, it can’t be that bad.
I’m trying to eat more fruits and vegetables every week but I’m very bad at it.
I love cooking, it’s a very soothing activity for me but currently I don’t have the kitchen equipment I would like to start prepping daily healthy meals. I go the easy way and eat frozen meals or takeout during the weekend or whenever I feel like it.
I avoid fast-food chains like the plague but the quick-froze products I eat aren’t much better.
I love salmon and rice but I cannot eat that anymore due to my braces. Same for any kind of lettuce even if I don’t like that, anyway. It’s the same constraint for any kind of grain. As you can guess, my healthy meals are somewhat reduced now.
Do I feel guilty about what I eat?
I’m aware that most of the time, what I eat in a day is unhealthy and it makes me frustrated because I want to enjoy the food I eat. I don’t want my meals to be a chore.
Eating should never be a chore and if it is, something is deeply wrong.
I have a major case of food guilt as well as food anxiety.
Why? Because I constantly evaluate what I’m going to eat based on how it can potentially affect my body. I plan and calculate my calories intake every single day and I stress about the weight I’m going to gain.
I’m not afraid to eat but I have dark moments when I dread it only because I know I will feel bad afterward and regret it.
While those feelings do not stop me from eating when I’m hungry, they are exhausting and completely toxic for my emotional and mental health. I do not know if food anxiety and food guilt are considered as full-fledged eating disorders and I’m not trying to educate anyone on that.
However, I’m grown enough to recognize and acknowledge that those two issues might be symptoms of it and if something is wrong with my health or in my life, my ultimate goal is to fix it. Always.
Am I concerned about body image?
And it’s an awful concern to have.
Let’s get real: I celebrate all shape and form in people but never in myself.
I’m my harshest critic and it does not matter if people tell me that I don’t need to lose weight, it does not even matter if someone think my body is attractive the way it is. Only what I think matters and only what I perceive myself to be influence my decisions.
Unfortunately, I always dreamed of having the perfect body shape, at least my idea of it. I always wanted to reach that goal and now I’m not sure how to stop. Or rather, I don’t want to stop because it feels like surrender.
As a young girl and later a young woman, the pressure to have the “right body”, the “right hair” and the “right face” is insane. Our worth always seems be determined by our physical attributes and that is because for centuries, it was men who wrote all the rules of that stupid game. We are becoming better at breaking that superficial cage but not by much.
I go to a random clothing store and I cannot help but think that I would look so much better if I could fit in a small size instead of a medium or a large. I don’t have the nerve to try that cute little dress because the mannequin on the promotional poster is definitely not wearing my size and I cannot help but think that those clothes are not for the likes of me.
And so starts the vicious cycle of self-blame and recriminations: “I’m the problem, most girls I see can wear this, but I can’t… why? Because I’m overweight. I need to lose weight. I need to get fit. Why can’t I be like everybody else? Why is it so hard for me? Why is it so easy for them?”
Suddenly my weight, something that shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place, turns into a huge obsession that only creates more hangs-up within myself. And here we are.
I’m very happy and very proud to have written this post because it is 100% honest and real. I hope that a year from now, when I read it again, I will be able to see the changes in my habits and in myself.
Self-confidence implies self-awareness and courage implies struggles. My blog is my home and before everything else, before being a source of inspiration, it is meant to be an escape and a refuge, for me and everyone who wants to take shelter.
I could not be happier if sharing my journey helps someone else.
If you can relate to any of this, do the exercise, ask yourself those six questions and answer them as honestly as possible.
The first step towards change is awareness.
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