Let’s face it, figuring out our food relationship is difficult. If you haven’t read my weight loss journey posts, I will give the quick and dirty story here: I lost more than 60 lbs. in a year. However, what you are missing out on not reading the actual posts is I included the most embarrassing before and after pictures! As I mentioned in those posts, I did not follow any specific diet like keto, paleo or anything else. For me those were not sustainable because they were cutting out food that I, frankly, don’t want to live without. And I knew if I had to live without them, I would not make the lifestyle change I needed to in order to accomplish this goal.
Ultimately, I had to change my relationship with food. And everyone has different relationships, so this is not a one fix for all. For example, my husband cannot resist bread before a meal at a restaurant. I know however, I will fill up on it and not eat my dinner. As a child, my husband grew up with a loaf of bread at the dinner table. Bread filled up four growing boys every time. We didn’t do that in my house as a child. So, we each have a different relationship with bread based on our childhood.
Banana splits have a special place in my heart because my maternal grandfather used to make them for my sister and I when we would spend the night at my grandparents. And, there are these fried, homemade donuts my maternal grandmother would make for parties. I can eat at least 10 of these fat-soaked bricks of goodness.
In the examples above, my food relationships came out of happy times. But, in addition, they came out of unhappy times. For instance, a bag of chips became lunch for a lot of years as I worked too many hours. My husband did all the cooking in the house, and I just never took the time to take leftovers for lunch. I headed to the snack closet for lunch because I worked so much, I could not leave the office.
Food was eaten when bottom fell out. So, the food relationship became Jen is starving, and/or blood sugared bottomed, logical and cognitive thinking gone, as is rationalism, put something in my stomach to get me going again.
I never ate breakfast because I wasn’t hungry, and I basically only ate when I was starving, or hubby cooked and put food in front of me. Essentially, I put my body through a starvation and to some extent binge mode. While the bag of chips wasn’t the binge mode, it was the full meal of dinner when I got home from work. It was a normal dinner portion, it was generally the most I ate in a meal per day, so I believe my body reacted to it as if it was a binge.
First on my journey of changing my food relationship was to stop waiting to eat until I was starving. In fact, not getting to the starving point at any time was key. I made bad choices when I was starving. Really bad choices. I had to start seeing food as fuel, that I needed throughout the day, not just when I was on empty. In addition, I need the good fuel, not the cheap regular fuel. In other words, yes, a cheese burger from a fast food joint is fuel, but salad with grilled chicken is better fuel.
Better food fuel will get you farther. You can generally fill up more on a salad, feel fuller and have more energy, without killing the daily calorie count. Technically I could have a whole salad and feel full or have half the cheeseburger and still feel hungry. And while the fast food cheeseburger and healthy salad is an obvious example, there are less obvious ones as well, particularly in this low or non-fat world, with all these claims of less calories and such.
An example of where I initially struggled with this new food relationship was things like baked chips vs. regular chips. I think we can all agree baked chips are better for you than regular fried chips. But too many people stop there in their food relationship thinking. And this isn’t to say you can’t have chips ever again (remember I didn’t cut out anything out of my diet), but if you just switch all your foods to “healthier” versions of the food, you won’t get far.
Reason is simple: You aren’t changing your food relationship. So the baked chips are less calories (but they still have calories), and there are less things in them that are not good for you (but there are still some things in there), but you are still feeding yourself the same things, just less taste and a few less calories and bad things. And this won’t last. You will get sick of the baked chips when the weight isn’t lost and go back to regular chips.
You know what is better than baked chips? Fruit. Side salad. Nuts. Cheese. Sunflower seeds. You get it. So that is what I did. I didn’t replace the chips with baked chips, I replaced it with a lot of different things that I liked and where good for me. But I still have the chips sometimes.
Now, how I would define my food relationship is food is my fuel, and my tank has to be half full at all times. In order to do that and keep that level, I need to eat healthy. And I eat well to not only continue to lose weight, as that weight loss helps to propel me and make me feel better, but that healthy fuel is also helping with my energy level.
I mean, I have a lot going on. In two months, I have made some big changes. Left my comfy, but miserable, agency job and paycheck. Started this life coaching business. Started my freelance writing career, an agency to market agencies, picked up a few freelance writing gigs, a part-time consulting gig, a partner at Junto and I will begin teaching this fall at Aurora University. I need a lot of fuel to keep this up. Oh, and did I mention I’m writing a fiction novel and taking a course online to help me with that? Yep, I need a lot of healthy fuel.
How is your food relationship? What changes do you want or need to make? How will you start implementing those? Leave your comments, let us know and inspire others.