My relationship with food has changed many times over the years but a few factors have unfortunately remained constant. Yes, as you can imagine food isn’t just fuel to me, we’re inextricably linked emotionally. Often I’d be fuelled purely by my feelings and not hunger when I entered the kitchen. I wouldn’t say I’ve had to battle with food (if I did I constantly waved the white flag, hello thighs!) but as I’ve gotten older I’ve also become more perceptive not only of what I eat but why.
They say the first step to beating your enemy is to understand them. Let’s get one thing straight, it was never the food’s fault for my midnight fridge-light assaults as a teen. Pizza, chocolate and chips never held me up at gun point. Understanding what my emotional triggers were and how to avoid or work through them in a healthy way was key. I’ll be honest, I’m still learning.
Now I’m in my late 20’s I feel like I’ve gotten some perspective on the whole deal. I can look back and track emotional patterns, life events, my weight fluctuations and weave them all together to get a better understanding of where my head was at. The tricky part is taking that scope method and applying it to the now.
I know what I should be doing. I know what is biologically better for my body. I know what vitamins I should be taking. I know what foods fuel my body properly and I know how to and how often I should be exercising. I know how to cook well and I understand nutrition… so why am I not applying these lessons every minute of every damn day???
The answer, I’m a rebel.
You know when you were growing up, some of your girlfriends would sneak out their bedroom window late at night, give themselves pen-ink-scratch tattoos, date bad boys, shoplift, do drugs etc etc. Well, I never did any of those things. I was a good girl. I was a Daddy’s Girl. My dad understood fitness and nutrition and made strict choices about what we ate as a family. I could never stand up to him on any issue, his word was final… so I hid food from him.
Looking back I can see he was a man in a house full of emotional women, a house that could implode every 15 minutes from female drama and his way of dealing with that situation was to maintain order, be strict and cut the crap. He wasn’t violent, abusive, cruel or an ogre, he was just doing what he thought was best.
Teenager me thought otherwise. I’d laugh evilly in my head as I’d smashed through a bag of Freddo Frog hidden in my wardrobe after an unsuccessful grilling about what I wanted to be when I grew up / why I couldn’t do simple math equations / why I wouldn’t join a sports team / why I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend / etc.
When I was 14 I got my first job, I started earning my own money and the food hiding began. It was silent, it didn’t hurt anyone, it made me feel better and it would be my own little secret, my own little delicious “FUCK YOU” to the world. Obviously teenage me was an idiot who knew it all yet failed to understand the ongoing effects that kind of self inflicting behaviour would have.
My behaviour also left me torn. As much as my rebellion satisfied me it also discredited my longing for the perfect body. I was tall, blonde, tanned and I had big boobs, a tiny waist and a round perky ass… but I hated the way I looked. I didn’t understand fashion or make up and like all teens I felt awkward and different which fuelled my bad eating habits.
Fast forward to when I was 19, engaged to Steve and trying for a baby. I didn’t know about Endometriosis back then and the monthly taste bud fluctuations between chips and chocolate seemed completely normal. On the flip side I ate perfectly balanced meals, took my pregnancy supplements and did aquarobics. I planned our wedding, we got married, we found a doctor that understood our struggle to conceive and then Aidan came into the world.
My stress eating and depression was no longer hidden but out in the open and I gained 50kgs in 5 years. I understood my pattern but felt powerless against it. I tried diets but they were never going to work because as much as I thought I understood why I was at that point I hadn’t figured out a way to deal with the constant trigger emotions in another way.
When Aidan became a toddler and started eating off our plates Steve and I changed our general diet because suddenly the food we ate wasn’t just affecting us anymore. I started to really understand why Dad was so strict. We buy local produce, eat spinach like it’s going out of fashion and balance out our portions of red and white meat. We eat fish twice a week, limit pasta dishes and once a fortnight on payday we have take out.
Aidan’s not a fussy eater, he likes a range of different cuisines and understands what types of food are acceptable at different times of the day. He understand what a treat is and the different between a treat and a snack. A lesson I’m still trying to learn myself.
Steve has lost around 15kgs in the last year. It’s been amazing to see his body transform. He works out everyday and I’m so immensely proud of his progress. Emotionally he’s different too, still the same guy but likes himself just a little bit more. The kind of reaction I had to myself when I started dressing up. A sense of pride.
I on the other hand had a stressful year. I buried my feelings about wanting another child as the women in my mothers group had their second or third. Aidan became a Daddy’s boy despite my best efforts and I threw myself into work. The better I got the more stones were thrown at me and I had to relearn that being my authentic self and sharing those parts of myself was ok.
Confidence is not a constant.
I had perspective on my life. I understood my past but I wasn’t sure I knew how to work through it. I started seeing a counsellor and the fog started to lift. It’s still hazy but I have some direction. In Sex & The City when the girls told Carrie to see a therapist she said “it’s just so self indulgent” and I have to agree but there comes a point where we all need a little help navigating reoccurring issues in our lives.
I’m finding strength to speak my mind rather than retreating into food. Teenage me wanted it all but was her own worst enemy. It’s easy to be tough on ourselves but it’s harder to be honest. Now I apply those lessons to all aspects of my life and really live them not only for myself or for my family but also for those around me and yes, that includes you.
I’m proud to support the SISTER2sister initiative as a blogging ambassador and their work with youths in need of direction and understanding.