I’ve been wanting to write a post about how sometimes, for me, intuitive eating isn’t so intuitive. But each time I start to write, the words come out all wrong. Something was missing. While I had a bunch of words down, I only seemed to be rambling on and on about nothing.
Then today, doing my normal online wake up routine of looking at all the comics I love but my local paper doesn’t carry, I found this from Cathy: http://www.gocomics.com/cathy/2008/10/29/
Cathy has tried diet after diet after diet after diet. Never losing any amount of weight, and what she did, she always gained back. Her closet has the requisite three different sizes so she always has clothes depending on where she is in her diet cycle. She does not have, and never has had, a good relationship with food. For her, it’s all about “good” food and “bad” food.
Irving, on the other hand, became fat once. He was fat for about a year (that I recall, but that was a while ago, and I might be misremembering) and when he decided to lose weight, the next day, it was all gone. Cathy hated him for that, of course. Irving mainly eats what he wants, and doesn’t really wonder if what he eats is “good” food or “bad” food.
This one comic strip finally said what I’ve not been able to say no matter how many words I’ve thrown at this topic. (And believe me, I’ve thrown at least 4k worth of words at this topic, deleting most of them because they just didn’t work.)
Food, for me, has always been about “good” food and “bad” food. Most foods I like have always been “bad” foods. When I was growing up, due to the idea that one could never be too thin, and my parents starving of me, anything that wasn’t essential to living (as understood in the 70’s) was “bad”. So things like candy, cookies, cake, pizza, any oil/fat naturally found in foods were bad. They also used food to punish me (both by with-holding food and by making me eat extremely disgusting things). Rarely, they used foods as rewards.
So, it’s no wonder that intuitive eating isn’t so intuitive for me. I have all these pre-conceived notions that this or that is bad for me. If I eat breakfast at all (which I do have to do now because of some meds I’m on), if I eat anything other than All Bran ™ and puffed rice, I feel like I’m being “bad”. If I want to eat a leftover piece of cornbread I made the night before, I know I’m being “bad”. Even plain yogurt (without sugar added) and frozen fruit (also without sugar added) – fresh when I can get it locally – is “bad”. It doesn’t matter what I want, or what my body’s telling me it wants to eat, it’s not “good” because it’s not one of the very small list of “good” foods.
When I’m feeling stressed, I feel like I should go for high fat/high sugar/high calorie stuff because that’s what “normal” people eat, right? And I want to be normal. I’ve spent many years working on being normal, so I need to eat normal comfort food. But a lot of times I find that I’m like Irving, and instead of wanting ice cream/potato chips/candy I reach for an apple. Or an avocado. Or snap peas. Or carrots. Or rice. Okay, at least the rice is a bit more understandable as it’s simple carbohydrates like the ice cream or potato chips are.
So, it’s really easy to say “eat intuitively.” The reality for me is, I have to remind myself daily to first of all eat, and then eat what I want, when I want. (Remembering to eat is still something I struggle with daily. Hunger is not a cue for me to eat, as I was hungry all the time, and I got used to just ignoring my body’s cues for more energy.) It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with since coming to FA and HAES. Even harder than accepting that I’m not disgusting and ugly and lazy and stupid just because I’m fat.
I had been brainwashed for a good portion of my formative years that 1) certain foods were bad, 2) I was bad for desiring them, and 3) I could earn those bad foods by being good enough (for whatever value good enough meant that week or month). Is it any wonder my relationship with food is so strained? Or that, when I feel like I want a candy bar (because I’d not had enough fat or carbohydrates in my diet) that I feel “bad”, that I’m disgusting for wanting something so bad for myself.
I am actively identifying the patterns of brainwashing and breaking their hold on my psyche, my emotions, and my actions. But there are still times when I feel that I’ll never get it “right”. That I’ll never be able to truly understand that eating a piece of cake or a candy bar isn’t a bad thing. That there really is no immorality about eating what I want. That I’m not going to hell because I chose to eat gravy that didn’t have all the fat taken out of it, or that I actually sauteed my chicken breast in olive oil.
One of these days, I’ll make it, I’m sure. But right now, today? Yeah, I’m doing it wrong.