I’ve been told that when I was a little tot, running around and playing all the time, that my mom could hardly get me to sit still long enough to eat whole meals. This may sound crazy since I’ve been overweight most of my life. But I’m talking about before I started gaining weight. My little body under 7 years old was pretty normal size. I wasn’t skinny but I was within normal range. I always had a softness to my body, which would be expected. I remember little Emily getting excited about yummy food but that I would much rather have be doing other stuff like playing, like most kids.
It wasn’t until life got more chaotic and traumatic in our family that I started really wanting more and more sugary “comfort” foods that packed on that weight, starting around 8 or 9 years old. I remember all of a sudden I had a belly. Like where in the hell did this come from?? Friends and family started to make comments, sometimes with real concern, sometimes just plain mean. And then I really started to identify as the fat girl. I felt out of control when it came to meals and wanted to constantly snack on crap. Then the pain of physical play as a fat girl was unbearable so food was way more fun. The desire flipped.
I remember by the time I was in high school, dieting every other month, trying to lose weight or beat myself up trying to work out, I wished so badly we didn’t even have to eat food. I wished we could all just take a pill in the morning that gave us our vitamins and nutrients for the day and we could carry on with living our lives. I wanted to badly to never think about food again. It was too painful to be on a restrictive diet when all of your friends are eating cheese fries in the cafeteria. I couldn’t handle being the odd one out so I ate like everyone else, even though that’s what made me the odd one out as the fat girl.
Now, many years later, I finally feel the freedom around food that I had desperately wished for. Now, I truly consider food as fuel only. It’s as if I am taking that pill each day for nutrients, just eating the right amount of real food for the sake of its fuel. Does this fuel my body? Yes? Right on. Am I just eating because I’m avoiding a feeling like boredom, stress, frustration, or am I eating it because everyone else around me is eating and having fun?
I remember people telling me and reading it in magazines that we should enjoy our food, really savor the experience, to enjoy the whole process of cooking and sharing meals with friends and family. I think that is a beautiful idea…in a world where we never use food to buffer our emotions. Great. Lovely. But when we use food as a drug to get that dopamine release, we have to STOP enjoying food in that way. We literally have to take all the “joy” we get from it to reprogram our brains to not turn to it for emotional comfort. It’s always interesting when people comment on my way of eating with “Well, that’s no fun. What about moderation? You gotta have some joy in life. What about quality of life?” Well, sister, I’d have MUCH higher quality of life if I could shop at any clothing store without a single worry about what would fit. Much higher quality of life to be able to run, play, dance, or paint my own toenails without physical discomfort and pain. Much higher quality of life to not get made fun of or looked down upon like a lazy, disgusting, waste of life. (We’ve all read the internet comments of overweight people.) So much higher quality of life if I had loved instead of hated myself all those years. I have a much higher quality of life looking at food as fuel only. The freedom is glorious. I’m not worrying about what to eat at every meal or feeling guilty after eating a whole bag of chips or pint of ice cream. None of that drama. I haven’t felt “hangry” in the last six weeks. When I feel hungry, it’s no longer an emergency. My body can “dine in” on its own fat until I fuel up later. And honestly, you know how people say that phrase “She could skip a few meals” well I could skip MONTH’S worth of meals and be totally fine. Truly. I’ve stored enough fat on my body since childhood to last a long, long time. This no longer makes me sad. My body was doing exactly what it was designed to do. Store fat for the winter. Well, my body doesn’t quite realize we’re not in the cave anymore. We’re not in Game of Thrones. Winter does not last that long and I always have PLENTY of food available to me at any time. I can have it prepared and hand delivered to me with an app on my phone. My body just doesn’t know not to protect me. It has taken care of me just the way it was designed to do. It’s quite beautiful.
So, now I can look at my body with loving kindness and feed it exactly what it needs from now on, knowing I will always have enough so there’s no need to store anything in my belly for later. I can tell myself “I got you” and eat fuel only. Then the real joys in life come out to play. Then life really gets to explode. The desire has flipped for the last time.
Bring it on, Life! I’m so ready.
Thanks for reading!!! I love to hear back from readers. What do you think about this topic? Have you had similar experiences? What helped you the most? Please comment below!
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