Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's good to eat! Changing my attitude toward food

My diet seems to change from day to day.   One week I don't eat sugar, the next week I eat it by the truckload.  One month no coffee, then I'm drinking it like water.  All my efforts, no matter how good my intentions are, seem to vary so frequently that I just can't take myself seriously anymore.

Underlying all of this chaos seems to be a distorted attitude toward food and my relationship to it.  I haven't had a major eating disorder, although I've certainly had a lack of peace when it comes to food choices since I was in high school.   I can remember for a long time always having a feeling of guilt while eating, as if I'm doing something wrong.  I always felt the need to control my diet in some way, to have some rules.  The thought of eating what I want, when I want, is kind of scary.  Maybe I think I would go out of control, eating junk all day and gaining 100lbs.  I'm not sure what the reason is.  But no matter what kind of eating habits I have, I always have some sort of background rules to try maintain some sort of discipline.

But what is the point in this?  Do I really always need to making improvements in how I eat?  When I'm eating only junk, sure this makes sense.  But the problem is, no matter how clean my diet is, I'm always looking for new ways to improve it and make it even cleaner.  It becomes some sort of obsession.  No wonder I always end up crashing and giving it all up, to maintain some sort of sanity.  I turn something which should be a positive change, and turn it into an obsession, which makes it unsustainable in the long-term.  Food happens to be the main area in my life where I do this right now, but it can also apply to many other areas.

But my attitude has been changing lately.  I've been seeing food as something positive, something that I need to nourish myself and be healthy.  Instead of worrying about too many calories, I'm starting to see that I've often under-eaten and probably been malnourished for a long time.  For years I didn't eat breakfast but just smoked cigarettes and drank coffee until lunch.  From what I learned in "Potatoes Not Prozac" by Kathleen DesMaisons, this can be a way of getting a beta-endorphin "high" through lack of food.  I no longer smoke and recently I've gotten into the habit of eating a hearty breakfast of eggs and potatoes,  not having any coffee until after I've eaten.  While I miss the caffeine buzz that I used to get, I feel much more grounded and I don't feel like a starving lunatic until I'm finally able to eat lunch.

My attitude toward food needs to change.  I need to nourish myself to feel healthy, there's no debate about that.  I think that even looking at food in a different way would make a drastic difference in my health, without obsessing and nit-picking about making specific changing and cutting out certain foods.  As much as I'd like to, I just don't seem to be able to avoid certain comforts at the moment.  Maybe if I can learn to look at food differently it won't be such an issue, and I'll be able to take or leave these foods without having to go to extremes.  This is what I'd like to achieve.


  1. Hey there. Thanks for your recent comment on my blog. Had to come over and check out what you're doing....and, wow. What honesty you write with! I think many people can relate to being obsessed with food--wanting to eat healthy, eating healthy, and then trying to eat even healthier until we just throw it all out the window. Finding balance seems so difficult sometimes!

    I think you'd love a few books that I've enjoyed because they explain WHY we have cravings for certain foods...the chocolate especially! The books are "Mindless Eating" and "The End of Overeating". They are great because they both explore social aspects of food intake and physiological aspects of food obsessions.

    I think you're doing great just by writing/journaling your food journey. You are bound to find peace and balance!

  2. Thank you for the comment and suggestions. I'll keep my eye open for those two books, I had planned on taking a trip to the bookstore tomorrow. I've looked at them before and never ended up buying them for some reason, but I've heard that both were very good.

    I agree with you, I think it's great to be able to learn about food from all different angles. I found that no matter how much I learn about the "healthiest" diet (whatever that may be), it does little good if I'm still battling cravings that prevent me from making better choices.

    I appreciate the encouragement. I'm hoping to find this balance that you speak of. It seems like you have done a good job of that :)