“What is the other side of this food thing like? What am I going towards while I’m trying to normalize food?”
I get asked this question often enough, so I’m going to tell you what it is like now for me.
For background, I have been obsessed with food since I can remember. At friend’s houses as a child, all I wanted to do was eat their snacks.
Then from 14-24, I dieted. Hard.
Bingeing. Repenting. Bingeing. Repenting. I thought my body was disgusting, and that my weight was the reason for all of my misery. I hated warm weather because it meant that I was supposed to wear shorts. I was constantly aware of what my body looked like, and what everyone else’s body looked like. And every time I couldn’t stay on a diet, I felt like the biggest, laziest, failure in the world.
I had dreams of my future when I would be very beautiful, skinny, blonde, and successfully only eat avocados.
I saw my entire life through the lens of weight. I saw the whole world through the lens of my weight. I can tell you about every period of my life from 14-24 based on what I weighed and what food I was eating (and bingeing on.)
Atkins, South Beach, a diet where I only ate shellfish and binged on jars of almond butter, the blood type diet, raw-veganism, the french women barely eat at all diet (which was a very caffeine and wine-heavy diet), GAPS, and Paleo.
I was a self-proclaimed food addict. And really, I was, because that is what restriction does to you. It was all I thought about.
I thought that people who said they “forgot to eat” were lying. Or anorexic. Because that is what I would have to be to “forget to eat”.
96% of every thought I had was about food and my weight.
Fast forward 3 years through allowing myself to gain whatever weight I would, eating anything and everything that I wanted, having a very strong sense that deep down I was helping my metabolism and health even though nearly every mainstream source of diet advice said otherwise, buying all new, bigger clothes, eating sooooo much granola in cream (like cereal in milk, only… denser), eating ice cream every night (that is why my pen name is Caroline Haagen.), becoming a fat activist and Health at Every Size activist, and going through some pretty transformative, nearly coincidentally-timed creative recovery: finding a much stronger sense of worth and self, both unconditionally, and based in the things I now care about, do, and create (as opposed to weight, looks and perfectionism).
I genuinely don’t think about food anymore. Only when I’m hungry. And I can go many hours not thinking about food at all and them bam, “oh man, I need to eat.” (During the recovery, while I was initially allowing, I thought about food a lot. You have to, it is all part of it.)
But I am now one of those people who forgets about food because it is not a big deal at all anymore, and I am genuinely more excited by the other things I am doing or thinking about. (God I thought those people were SO ANNOYING before!)
I know I will eat whenever and whatever I want. And I know that, at this point, no matter what I eat, my weight stays the same. And, if it changes, I’m pretty damn accepting of that, too. The only actual caveat is the money spent on new clothes.
I am still a food snob. Meaning: I want the best stuff, because it tastes better and makes me feel better. But I eat what’s there if I am out and hungry.
I often find that I eat less during the day, and eat a lot at night, just because it is easier.
I still often eat right before I go to bed.
Last year right around this time, I gained some weight, maybe 5 lbs, I don’t know because I didn’t weigh myself. It was the first time I said, “Eh, this is either how I am now, or it’ll pass.” I didn’t change one thing I was doing, and the weight came off again naturally during the summer.
Since then, my weight hasn’t changed much.
I recently had to buy all smaller pants, realizing the ones I bought during my recovery are all too baggy looking now. I am fully aware that next year they might not fit again. I can buy all new clothes if that happens. That’s what Old Navy is forrrrrrr.
During the recovery I would sometimes count up calories to see if I’d eaten enough, I tried to get to at least 2500-3000, because anything less than that I was really hungry. I don’t do that anymore, ever.
Sometimes I’ll step on a friend’s scale in their bathroom, and revel at how the number means nothing to me.
I don’t exercise formally. Sometimes yoga, lots of walking (I live in NYC). I actually crave it and want to add in something more regular to move and stretch my body. Who knows if and when I will.
I do not intensely focus on – or meditate on – my food while I am eating. And, the entire time I was recovering I didn’t either. I followed the motto: “Eating should be easy.” I was sick of the rules of intuitive eating. You don’t really have to focus on it, your body WILL tell you when you’re finished. I ONLY focused on it in the beginning when I was in “binge-y” modes, I sat down and ate it slowly allowing as much as I wanted and enjoyed it (“feasting”), but that passed in a few months because I allowed it.
I eat a lot of smoothies recently because it is an easy way to get a lot of calories in quickly. …Imagine that.
What did I eat today? Today has been a weird day of traveling for me. I hesitate to mention what I ate in case it seems like some kind of manifesto, or whether people think I am trying to tell them I am “doing it right.” No. There is not right way to eat, ever. It just is what it is.
I was home with my parents to go with my mom to my cousin’s bridal shower. I woke up, drank coffee and cream (I always do) while I talked to my dad. My mom and I stopped by another coffee shop on the way to the party so she could get her coffee, I got a banana and we split a quiche in the car. At the party I had a some mimosas (this is not a normal day for me…), ham, pasta, chicken salad sandwich, salad. I remember I ate a bite of another piece of bread but it was weird and sweet and I was already full. And later, cake.
A few hours later I ate chicken as my dad drove me into the city to stay with my friends tonight, I just went to the drug store and bought a toothbrush and some snacks for the night: popcorn, yogurt, green smoothie, chocolate. As I type this, I am realizing I didn’t really eat a real dinner, so I’ll probably remedy on my way to my drummer friend’s house to record a jingle for a jingle contest she is entering.
That was my day of food.
Also, I’m wearing shorts right now.
Food is just food now. Delicious, nourishing, sometimes shitty, usually wonderful, sometimes I forget about it, sometimes I probably eat 3,000 calories in one sitting, food.
I’m going to go find some dinner somewhere on my walk.
Rememberrrrrr, Fuck It.