The telltale signs are now everywhere you look. Fast approaching is Valentine’s Day and all the eye can see is a myriad of chocolates, roses and stuffed animals.
In honor of this celebration of all things love related I thought I would bring up everyone’s favorite. The relationship we all have with our food.
Food addictions or disorders are some of the most difficult afflictions to overcome simply because unlike vices like smoking or alcohol, our bodies NEED food for us to live. We can’t walk away from food and pretend it doesn’t exist.
For many, many years I let my food control me. I let it be my comfort and reward but it also served as my torture and punishment. It was my medication instead of being my fuel. I was living in constant conflict over what my body needed versus what I thought I wanted.
I remember distinctly always eating while tuning out in front of the television and often relying on the convenience of fast food when I didn’t feel like cooking. The portion sizes were always big (YES I could manage a foot-long sub from Subway on my own) and the nutritional value in the food was often low or non-existent.
My unhealthy relationship with food started when I was very young. Restriction was both preached and practiced. Very damaging acts of measuring my waist to see if I had put on any weight on a daily/every other day basis were inflicted upon me. All of this left me with the impression that food had control of me rather than the other way around.
When I started my journey three years ago I knew I had to overhaul my view of food. I had to start looking at it as a fuel for my body, as a nourishing add-on to my soul. I had to teach myself how to come together with other people around food and not have it be completely about the treats I could indulge in but have it be about the social aspect.
I also had to educate myself on how food reacted with my body. How did I do this? By listening to my body. Hmmm, so that bowl of spaghetti ~ was it the noodles or the meat that caused people to don gas masks and go running from the room with tears streaming down their cheeks? Well, let’s eliminate one or both and find out!
Through many trials and a boatload of experiments I realized I am likely gluten sensitive. This made sense with my past as a competitive swimmer. I was very active in the pool, on my bike, walking and hiking with friends and yet I was still gaining weight. What was pushed on us for quick energy as swimmers? Pasta the night before the big race! Little did I know the harm it was actually doing to my body.
By listening and recognizing signs of physical irritation and upset I have been able to determine that my body is MUCH happier when I avoid wheat, most dairy and of course processed foods.
These days my body and I have a much more healthy and productive relationship. I support it with the nutrients and vitamins it needs to operate like a well oiled machine while in turn it produces results that make me happy like building muscle and improving stamina. Really it’s a give and take relationship and that’s the way it should be.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing I hope you’re going to listen to your body because it will be trying to tell you what it needs in subtle or not-so-subtle ways. Love your food, try to understand it and above all don’t run from it. After all it will be with you for the rest of your life.