My relationship with food: Fear of food (the mental)

My wonderful friends in blog world, and in the real world too, I realise I promised you the whole story about my relationship with food and my body and that I still have two (well three really) parts to go.

Thank you to everyone who continues to comment on these posts, on the things that I reveal in the stories that I tell, and to my family who (even though they lived through all of this) still give me hugs anew whenever they finish reading another of these posts.

When I discovered fitness all over again in my last post, we might have all thought that my journey to a healthier relationship with food was nearing a happier, more balanced, end.

However, like many relationships in life, there was another difficult period just over the hill.

When I discovered ways to help myself enjoy exercise, and stopped using food as a panacea for pain in my life, I lost weight.

Then I slipped a little the other way.

I became afraid of food.

Me. Afraid of food.

Real food. Treat food. In-between food.

All of it.

Afraid that somehow, magically, that piece of cake I ate on the weekend would turn into body weight overnight and I would be back at the beginning of this whole adventure.

Afraid that if I varied my diet too much I would lose all control and end up bingeing at midnight again.

Afraid of peanut butter. Afraid of butter. Afraid of full fat anything.

While I was losing weight I used calorie counting to help me with ensuring that I was meeting my goals. Certainly a great method for losing weight, and as a dietitian something I assist my patients with when they are trying to lose weight and eat more sensibly.

What is not healthy is seeing that number and deciding that it should always be lower, that you don’t really need to refuel after a tough workout, that you can keep cutting portions down and down. That you should always be searching for a food that fits a mathematical equation rather than what fits into what your body really needs in the moment: the food that will satisfy, soothe, and nourish.

I am not sure exactly what helped me to snap out of this part. It may have been looking at glorious food books and blogs and wanting just wanting too much to go to the party rather than always look in the window. It may have been watching the way my little sister allows herself treats a few times per week and has stayed the same weight nearly her whole adult life.

It may have been realising that I was telling my patients to not be so harsh on themselves, and that I needed to practice what I was preaching.

It may have been signing up for a half marathon and realising that you can’t keep cutting down on fuel when your body needs you to take care of it and eat enough so that it can last the distance. It may have been reading Michael Pollan and wanting to respect and love food that much.

So, somehow through a combination of all of the above I started bringing food back into my life.

I realised that there is real food, treat food, and in-between food.

Sometimes a cookie counts as all of the above.

I realised that I needed to just let go. To listen to my body. To nourish myself, not punish myself, with my food choices.

To look at this as a whole- life thing not an in- the-moment thing.

Let go of the fear of butter. Let go of the fear of a non-measured meal. Let go of uber-low-fat-no-flavour “foods”.

You can’t spend your whole life, three times a day, being afraid of the plate in front of you.

So, I let go of the fear and embraced the food.

11 thoughts on “My relationship with food: Fear of food (the mental)

  1. What an awesome post! I think anyone or everyone who has ever lost weight can relate to the fear of food.

    I have to admit as much as it is an effective simple science I am a little against calorie counting for this reason. It seems to breed a little bit of “disordered eating”. Food is meant to be enjoyed and yes we can’t just eat everything in sight and yes if you are trying to lose weight you need to make sure you have a deficit. Obviously counting calories is the easiest way to ensure this but mentally it changes our relationship with food.

    I am all for “intuitive eating” but I think it is a learned skill. We are so use to aimlessly feeding ourselves getting in tune with our body and its appetite and cues is quite a process that involves effort and a complete mental shift from traditional dieting… throw out the “rule book”.

    You are in SUCH a great place and really enjoying your food and I love that. I am no dietian so my opinion is just based off my own experiences so I would always leave the advice to the experts… like you!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you Jenelle 🙂
      I am a strong advocate of intuitive eating. There is something unnatural about forever worrying about calories and fat grams. Yes, it is appropriate for short term behaviour change, but in the long term we need to learn to eat. All aspects of the eating: meal preparation, sharing the table, and being tuned into satisfaction are important to nourishing yourself.

  2. I love this post, and every word sounds so familiar, but more beautiful because it’s from you. Thank you for your honesty – and congratulations on such a hard-won fight.

    Looking back, I see it as though I wanted to disappear, and food (or lack of it) was the vehicle to make it happen. A cookie is the perfect antidote – to everything.


  3. This resonated so much with me. I’ve also just lost an hour when I probably should have been working to trawling through your beautifully written archives- but thank you…

  4. big big big BIG hugs to u girl!! seriously, u are so brave to share all of this and it also is like sending a big message to the things u’ve dealt with to get there. mostly a big middle finger to living in fear of food, of living with guilt over wat u ate, of letting ur mind be burdened with all those thoughts/anxieties/negatives that aren’t worth ur time. i think a lot of women, myself included, have gone thru periods of fearing and hating food…mostly hating their bodies. but all that mental energy sucks the joy out of EVERYTHING that is meant to be lived, felt, and enjoyed. in all of these posts i really do believe u are reaching and helping others who are not quite where u are. and for those who don’t tell u thanks, kno they are there, and that u are doing so many a great service by being such a great spokes/writes-person. 😉

    • Thank you Cait. I don’t think I am brave, I think I am lucky to have a supportive family who helped me through all these stages, and now supportive friends here on the web (like you miss) who allow me to share my story 🙂

  5. Pingback: R U OK Day? | Thoroughly Nourished Life

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