Do you feel “all in” with a healthy eating pact then, next thing you know, in the throes of what feels like an uncontrollable binge? Does food fill your head and distract you from having fun and living your life? Listen up. Guest expert Carolina Guízar and I explore this on the latest episode of the Love Food podcast.
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This episode’s Dear Food letter:
As a child, I never thought much about you. You were just the breakfast my mom made in the morning before she went to work. She put my brother and mine’s breakfast on a tray and lay it on her bed as she got ready. Usually you were something easy to make, eggos waffles smothered in syrup or scrambled eggs and ham with milk or orange juice. You were just the lunch my mom packed the night before – a sandwich filled with meat, cheese and mustard, chips, and sometimes a couple of chips ahoy cookies. Since my mom was a single working mother, my abuela would pick my brother and I up from school to take to her house until my mother was off work. We would be given vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup while we did our homework. FYI- my mother’s side is Cuban and if anyone hearing this is Hispanic they will understand that potatoes and rice are our vegetables. My abuela was an incredible cook and would always prepare some sort of meat with rice, black beans, and fried savory plantains she always made. My favorite meal was chicken fricassee- dark chicken meat, potatoes, olives, peas, and onion cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce. Looking back, I didn’t know much about you because I wasn’t able to explore you. You were just something that was put in front of me and I was told to eat. Every now and then we had some alone time when I went out with friends or to a drive through after I got my license. I came from a very frugal family, so our “dinner’s out” would be chick fil a, Panera, or Domino’s pizza.
It wasn’t until freshman year of college where we finally had alone time. Starting college, I was thin and felt good about my body. As the year went on, I was overwhelmed with having free access to all the foods I love on my meal plan. Chick fil a, Au bon pain, panda express, starbucks, and food halls filled with candies, chips, ice cream and more. I stuffed my face with you thinking nothing of it while I went out drinking 4 times a week. Nights out usually ended with late night eating with friends. By the time spring break came, I realized just how much damage you had done to me. My clothes were tighter, my stomach was bigger, and my face had filled out a lot. I didn’t look like myself.
When I went home that summer, I made a pact with myself that I would work out and eat healthy. I wanted to see what my healthiest body would look like. I wanted girls to envy me and boys to desire me. I started to run every day and do a workout video off youtube. I stopped drinking for a month. I did a ton of research on healthy eating. Food, you changed into something I ate to give me the body I became obsessed with having. You changed to a form of rules that has damaged the way I see you even now. I ate cooked chicken and 99% lean turkey with no oil and only cayenne because I feared olive oil would make me fat. I only ate fruit in the morning because I read that the sugars metabolize differently in the afternoon. I only dressed my salads in balsamic vinegar because of the high calorie grocery store dressings. When you became these rules, the way I viewed everything changed. I was addicted to the praise I received when I got results, and didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing because I was certain it was “healthy”. I had a boyfriend that summer who knew about my obsession with eating healthy. Every now and then, him or his family took me out to nice dinners where I allowed myself to eat and drink whatever I wanted. But that’s when it goes dark. Instead of being present, I would obsess over the food in front of me. I would eat past the point of full because I saw it as my only time to have this “unhealthy” food. I would be having a conversation, but I was really thinking about the eating everything and anything I could get my hands on while I could. Even after dinner, I’d drive out to cvs to get my favorite ice cream or candy. After these episodes I was convinced people could see the food I ate on my body. People noticed this cycle and I’ve received a few comments that my motto seemed to be all or nothing when it came to you, food. The next day after my binge, I’d feel so guilty and ashamed and I would go back to only eating healthy and working out until the next episode. I didn’t realize this cycle would stay with me for the next five years.
Of course, our relationship has slightly changed over those years- I’m 24 and in my first two years of the working world. When my nutrition journey first started, I did grow to love fitness but now that I’m not active throughout the day at a desk job- my body is a little heavier than it was in college. I constantly aim to go back to the super skinny and fit shape I used to be in. I do my best to eat healthy and meal prep every week. I think about food constantly and often create meal plans and recreate them when I’m at work. Every now and then I try to convince myself I’m okay and I can have that piece of chocolate if I want it. But everytime I have a bite of something “unhealthy” it triggers a binge cycle and I find myself checking out at the grocery with sweedish fish, sour patch kids, and oreos. I kill myself at the gym six times a week. I’m constantly buying meal plans and fitness plans that promise amazing results. I stick with it a few weeks and then get frustrated when I don’t see immediate results. I go from having faith in myself to do it on my own to finding a new and shiner plan that will get me there. My binge episodes have become more frequent in a week and I’m sick of it. Now I have the same feeling I did my freshman year- I don’t recognize this body and I’m constantly torturing it.
Food, you’re taking over my life. When will this end? Aren’t you sick of this like I am? How can we get to a point where I feel safe with you no matter what?
- Julie Dillon RD blog
- Link to subscribe to the Love Food’s Food Peace Syllabus.
- Carolina Guízar’s website
- Carolina Guízar’s Instagram: Instagram.com/la_eathority
- The Latinx Health Collective
- Find Eating Disorder Dietitians near you.
Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com.