Down the Rabbit Hole of Food Guilt

*Trigger Warning- This post contains discussions of disordered eating. Please be advised.**

Last week the following conversation took place in my house…

Hubs “So, do we need to talk about why you’ve gotten weird about eating.”

Me “What do you mean weird?” (I knew what he meant)

Hubs “It doesn’t seem like you are eating enough calories.”

Me: “I’m doing ok”.

Hubs: “You’re really not. I support your workout schedule but you have to fuel your body….”

The conversation went on for him to reiterate some things I knew (of course) but probably needed to hear again. The plan I am on is already set up at a calorie deficit to promote 2-3 safe pounds being lost each week. I also don’t eat my activity calories. If I don’t eat what the program is asking me to my body will think I am starving it.

This is all perfectly reasonable. So why is it so damn easy to fall back down the rabbit hole?

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Because getting right with weight loss once and for all means tackling the mental stuff too I took it WAY back to the first time I remember getting weird about food. I was always a normal/desirable weight as a kid and teen.  And we just didn’t talk a lot about nutrition or food in general in my house. My mom is a naturally tiny thing who is a grazer when it comes to eating. It isn’t a problem- that is just who she is. My Nana had her own weird food stuff. But really, it just wasn’t a conversation. Dance was my LIFE as a tween/teen but as I got older I got curvier (not chubby mind you- just normal curves) and I felt weirdly awkward in ballet. I just didn’t have that sleek ballerina body. I stayed in dance for years after but I did quit ballet. And suddenly at 13 and in the 8th grade I  was crazy aware of my body. And, in my mind, I was “fat”.

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If I could only go back and tell that girl not only are you not fat but you are actually pretty fit- years of dance will do that. The damage was done so started a long road of sneaking hydroxycut (my mom straight lost it on me for that one), refusing to eat during the school day (because obviously people don’t eat), and crazy schemes (running in heavy sweats). In a lot of ways that is just silly teenage girl stuff. Most girls go through that in some form or the other. It is probably a symptom of a diseased culture, sure- but that is a topic for another day. Anyway, the real problem started when discovered – restricting.

Restriction was my sweet spot. I would calorie count and fat gram count (remember when that was THE thing). The lower the number the better I would think I felt. Diet soda (aka poison) became my constant companion. But most of the girls around me were doing it too so I figured- this is just the way it is. I have a VERY vivid memory of my friend eating one chicken tender and declaring she was full. There is no way in hell. I have always wondered if she ate the rest in the car on the way home.

6So cut to now when I am definitely old enough and knowledgeable enough to know better. For some reason that I cant explain- I guess it’s a symptom of old issues- I started shaving calories off my plan. And with apps it is so easy to do, easy to compare, and easy to get “addicted” to. After I few days I even caught myself feeling good about my “surplus” calories. Never mind that right after the baby went to bed I would literally crash on the couch. I am working out twice a day so crazy restriction is truly not an option.

So, cut to my weigh in. I am expecting a huge number and it doesn’t budge. So the following week I restrict even more. Again, no movement. As I slowly crept into week 3 of this nonsense the hubs jumped in with a check yourself before you wreck yourself kind of conversation. I actually almost shocked myself when the words “eating all my calories makes me feel guilty.” Say whaaaa?

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I would never consider what I went through an “eating disorder” but I would certainly say a lot of my thoughts surrounding food come from a disordered pattern of thinking. Here I am with the greek yogurt, and veggies and lean chicken and beautiful berries and I feel guilty? Guilty for giving my body what it needs? That makes zero sense.

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It is kind of scary how food and guilt are little partners in crime in our society. How many times have you heard someone say “Ill be bad and order desert”? No, you’re not bad. You are choosing to have a treat. OR “Ill be good and only get a salad?” Most people aren’t pumped about that salad for the nutrition- they are excited for the low calories. And that is just something we all need to move beyond.

Food is not the enemy. Most days I believe that. But, I can come clean here and admit I struggle with this. This week I have stayed on point with my calories. My workouts have actually been WAY better (not shocking) BUT I would be lying if I didn’t admit I am terrified I will have gained like 6 pounds this week.

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To be fair, this is going to take time to get over and move beyond. Just because I have accepted I need work here, that doesn’t mean the feelings just go away. But just like with my physical workouts I am also putting in the mental ones.  I am ready to move beyond this once and for all….digging my way out of the rabbit hole for good.

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