Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Definition #2: Food

This is the hardest one of the three for me to devote thought to and instead of running from it, today is the day I'm going to start reflecting on it and embracing it.

Food as nourishment.

I honestly don't even really know what to say about that sentence.

It's still an abstract concept to me.  I mean, I "get" it.  But in how it plays out for me, it's still a concept.
I HOPE to be able to embrace that.  I'm working towards being able to embrace that.

Right now though?  Food isn't nourishment.  Frankly,a lot of the time, food's a pain in my ass.

I have a prevailing attitude that I can not get food "right".  I'm my grand self awareness these days, I know that's the eating disorder talking.  And while I KNOW that, I clearly don't experience that yet a majority of the time.

I have guilt when I choose to eat things that just SOUND good to eat.  Foods I want just to enjoy the taste of them.  The level of healthiness doesn't matter here. 

Further, I have guilt when I eat at all.  My eating disorder has convinced me that eating is a sign of weakness.  A sign of failure.  A sign of not wanting "it" enough.  And the stupid thing is, I'm not even sure what that magical "it" is. Thin-ness?  Control?  Success?  I don't know.  But I am sure that my eating disorder is completely clear on what the magical "it" is and that I don't have "it."

Until recently, I would have told you 100% that my eating problem was binging and overeating.  In recent weeks, I've become very aware that binging and overeating are a consequence.  Yes, still problematic, but the trigger is the restricting and the feelings that come with eating.

Ironic, no?  An undeniably overweight person whose main issue is restricting?  Super. 

I think as a means of coping with the overwhelming food messages my eating disorder has embedded in my brain, I developed an all or nothing attitude towards it.  It turns food into the enemy.  It gives food the power and responsibility of deciding your body shape and health level and ultimately, your worthiness in society.  And it absolves you of any "blame" in the situation.  Not that there should be blame, but let's face it.  There is.  If there wasn't, I wouldn't need treatment to try get rid of it.

But underneath this, I do know food IS just food.  It has no power.  No energy until you injest it and then it is there to serve YOU.  To power you, to fuel you. 

The eating disorder is who is changing that meaning and context for me.  Knowing that is a powerful tool I think.  I'm still learning how to use that tool, but I do know that food can just be food and not a mirror.  And that's a valuable starting place.

I came across a wonderful article this morning while browsing the internet.  One of the best things for me these days is to read someone else's words which much more eloquently sum up the words swirling in my brain.  The title of the article? 

"In Defense of a Daily Donut"

Right??  I know.  Already it's good.

Some highlights...

Some dieters (not all) tend to have an “all or nothing” mindset. One slip-up can make you think you’ve blown it for the day, pushing you to the other extreme: “You’re more likely to eat even more forbidden food, knowing that you’ll cut yourself off tomorrow,” says Kronberg. “Then, you’ll restrict to make up for it, trapping you in this cycle.”
Mmmmmhmmmmm.....I know.

The problem with feeling guilty is that it creates an unhealthy relationship with food. “We have this mentality that we need to cancel out bad food through exercise,” says Kronberg. “But this ‘trade-off’ mentality is the foundation of exercise bulimia.”  Sure, working out is important. But it’s also important to see both exercise and eating as two healthy parts of your life—not as one canceling out the other.

WHAT??  Two separate parts?  Exercise isn't a means of atonement for eating food?  Brilliant.

“We don’t just eat for nourishment,” says Kronberg. “We also eat for pleasure, socializing, and mood stabilization.” We need to satisfy these other needs without feeling bad about them, she says.
YES.  This.  Food as nourishment, pleasure, socialization, stabilization.  ALL compenents of food even for the healthy minded eater.  But none more important than another.  None as a means of medicating.  I sort of fundamentally disagree with the "mood stabilization" part since that's the part I struggle with but I can see how it has a place for healthy people.  Chocolate during PMS, anyone?  I guess I should explore the idea of "mood stabilization" vs. "mood numbing".  That may be the key to understanding it better.

First, make sure you’re getting enough calories and meeting your nutritional needs—that “oh my gosh I’m starving” feeling will only lead to a binge, advises Kronberg.

Then, pick a favorite food that you’ve told yourself you can’t have. Ask yourself how many times a week you would, realistically, want to eat this “forbidden food.”

Of course, the process is gradual. If you have an all-or-nothing relationship with doughnuts, you shouldn’t start by buying a full dozen. Order one doughnut a few times a week to normalize the food. Then, you’re less likely to binge at the next breakfast buffet.

“If you give yourself permission to eat something, it’s less forbidden and you’ll want it less,” says Kronberg

Thank you magical Yahoo.com article!  This is what I'm currently working towards and it's exciting to get an additional source of back up that it's valuable and worth it. 

I guess this has been a long and winding way of saying this:

Food as nourishment means a life of food becoming food.  Not medication, not escape, not torture, not a pain in my ass.  Just something that *is*.  I don't feel guilty for breathing.  I don't feel guilty for having shelter or being clothed.  Food needs to be on THAT list.  A necessity.  Something I can enjoy but also something that can go unnoticed.

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