Food relationships are a funny thing. Everyone has one because everyone needs to eat to live but they vary from person to person. (As, I suppose, all relationships do…) Some people don’t think twice about what they put in their mouth and others obsess over it. Some only eat ORGANIC while others are sustained on fast-food alone. There are millions of food blogs, videos, tips and tricks on why, how and what to eat (The Veg Voyage itself is definitely food focused) but, in the end, it’s up to each individual to figure out their food relationship.
Today, I have a healthier food relationship than I did in the past but I still think about food a lot more than the average person does… (based
scientifically on my own personal pool of friends, of course;) Not only do I think about food a lot but I love reading and writing about it. Those articles that have celebrities list what they eat in a day? I love those… And you don’t even have to be famous for me to care about what you eat! Who knows about What I Ate Wednesday?! (Though, the fact that this exists, does bring me comfort since it means what other people eat is, in fact, interesting to other people.) There are also these videos on YouTube where people record everything they ate in a day… These are pretty long (some around 20 minutes) and I usually get bored somewhere after their breakfast but … I know they are out there… so, there’s that.
For most of my life, my relationship with food was eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. I’m blessed because I’ve actually enjoyed healthy food my entire life. So, naturally preferring veggies to Big Macs (most of the time!) paired with not over-eating, left me healthy, anxiety-free and able to eat basically whatever I wanted. This way of life continued until one semester in college when I had the crazy idea to schedule my classes only twice a week instead of splitting them up over the five days. I was at school ALL day and, not wanting to be left hungry (or broke from eating out 3 meals a day, twice a week), I began planning my meals, coffee breaks and snacks. This snowballed and suddenly I was planning entire weeks’ worth of meals on Sunday evenings.
Like, every little thing I was ever going to eat.
Oh, and I don’t know if you know this buuutt… most of the time, when something is off-limits (which ALL food was UNLESS it was on my MEAL PLAN), it suddenly becomes the most desired thing you’ve ever thought about.
So, you know, I continued my meal planning every Sunday, “cheating” most days by having a bite of something that was not part.of.the.plan., feeling bad about it, and then starting the whole thing over again.
My obsession amplified when I transferred to University where I felt out of my element. Scheduling everything I was going to eat went from an obsession to, in retrospect, how I felt … in control in a new environment.
Eventually, I broke free from my scheduling (along with not allowing myself to eat the same thing twice in a day but that’s an entirely different post…) and have mostly fallen back into the habit of eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. I can’t tell you how nice it is to let food just be food. It isn’t this constant source of worry and anxiety the way it once was. I rarely feel bad about eating anything and concentrate on balancing things out instead of making them perfect.
Because really? what is a world without Jack in the Box tacos, amirite?!
Of course, I still have my circumstance-induced moments where I can feel myself turning towards food for the comfort of schedule and stability. For example, on vacations, I get antsy when I don’t know when we will be eating next. Should I eat all of my sandwich because we are having a late dinner or 1/2 because we are getting ice cream after this? There isn’t necessarily a schedule and sometimes that stresses me out. Or, occasionally, if it’s dinnertime and we haven’t eaten, I will want to eat more for the stability on ending your day with dinner than because I am hungry.
No matter what though, everyday, I strive to make sure my relationship with food is healthy, balanced, is given proper attention and care but is not all encompassing.
Time to make dinner!