I was 7 years old and in second grade when my unhealthy relationship with food began. That’s 26 years of struggling with body image, good food vs. bad food, confidence, and unhappiness. It’s been a rough journey.
Almost 3 years ago, I underwent gastric bypass weight loss surgery to regain control of my life with food. Five weeks ago, I enrolled myself in a “Back on Track” program with my weight loss center. Three years post-surgery it has gotten much easier to eat what I want (not should) to, eat how much I want (not should) to, and as you all know life has resumed and stress has derailed me. It happens to the best of us, right?
In those five weeks I am proud to say that I have, for the most part, gotten myself back on track. I’ve been tracking my food intake again, getting more exercise, and I’m taking back control of the hold food has on me. Last week I learned quite a bit about myself and gained tons of insight as to just how unhealthy my relationship with food is.
One of our fitness experts, Jess, gave a great presentation of what a good relationship with food should look like, and where our troubles lie. Here are some things I’ve learned, and I’m hoping it might help some of you as well:
First, we should stop categorizing food into “good” and “bad” groups. Those words hold so much stigma for us due to the nature of their meaning in other parts of our lives. Instead, we should use the words “healthy food” and “unhealthy food”. This was my first “ah-ha!” moment of that evening, and it made total sense! This is also the first thing I changed upon returning home that evening. Little ears are listening and learning from me, and I’m determined to encourage a healthy relationship for my child and food.
Second, when we have a “bad day” with food, we should not say “I was bad today.” Jess said that when someone comes into the office and says “Oh, I was so bad today!” she asks them what they did to be “bad”. She’ll ask them “Did you hurt someone? Did you steal something? Were you dishonest?” Their responses are usually “Well, no. I ate cake and fries.” To that she’ll tell them eating cake and fries does NOT make you a bad person. Maybe you didn’t make healthy choices that day, but you certainly are not a bad person! Whew…I needed to hear that for once in my life! Love it! Let’s continue…
Finally, I learned that I can’t (and shouldn’t) restrict myself for the rest of my life. If all I think about is how much I can’t have the small piece of pie, then all I’m going to want is the small piece of pie! Do we really want to go the rest of our lives without indulging in the small piece of pie? I know I certainly don’t! It is all about finding a balance between indulging every now and then and making healthy choices the rest of the time. Furthermore, when we do choose to indulge we should ENJOY it (imagine that!)! For me, the cake tastes amazing as I’m eating it, but I’m really not enjoying it because every bite my head is screaming, “You shouldn’t be eating this! Good luck wearing jeans tomorrow! You’re bad for eating this!”…yeah, the guilt is super enjoyable! Instead, we need to learn to let go and enjoy it! Enjoy it, and then move on with the day and continue with healthy choices.
I struggle with all of these things and more, but these items were indeed the highlights of that evening for me! For the first time in a long time things made sense! Of all the relationships in my life, my relationship with food is the one I need to work on the most! It is time to stop living to eat and start eating to live!