onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “April, 2021”

A moment, and truth

I am cranky this morning. I don’t know why. There is no reason. Nothing happened. I just want to be quiet. I just don’t want to interact.

One thing I appreciate about having my eating under control is that I don’t worry so much about the “why” of things anymore. I don’t know why I am cranky and I don’t have to know. It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t signal any truth about me. It’s just the way the moment is. The moment will eventually be different. 

I am generally a happy person. I like people and the world most of the time. I like being nice. I like being grateful. I like being content. So much that when I don’t feel happy or content, I don’t have to think too hard on it. Being unhappy doesn’t feel like “the truth.” It just feels like a moment. One that will pass.

But when I was eating compulsively, I was not a happy person. My unhappiness did feel like “the truth.” My compulsive eating felt like the truth. My brokenness felt like the truth.

Toward the end of my compulsive eating, I had lost a lot of weight counting calories and working out. And there I was, walking around in a socially acceptable body. But even though I was not fat, being fat still felt like the truth. I knew that the body I was inhabiting was unsustainable. That *I* could not sustain it. I had been on diets before. I had lost weight before. But I had never been able to stop eating long-term. And I knew that I would not be able to do it then.

When I stopped eating sugars grains and starches, suddenly not eating compulsively became a real option. A real, possible truth. And eventually, a real, actual truth. Because I am addicted to those certain foods and putting them in my body set up a craving for more of the same. The longer they were out of my system, the less I wanted them, the less pull they had over me. The less my emotions were tied to my addiction.

So now I still have bad days. And sad ones. I still have mornings like today when I am not happy or cheerful. And maybe it’s the weather, or something subconscious, or just plain brain chemicals. But whatever it is, it’s not my addiction or my eating. And it’s certainly not my truth. It’s a moment. A not so magic moment. It will pass.

I do what I want and have the privilege of knowing it.

I feel like my life is finally opening up again. Tomorrow I get my second COVID vaccine shot. My husband and I have a new job lined up for the not-so-distant future. And I am doing some planning and plotting for some fiction writing. (Plot is hard, for those of you who don’t know.)


I have been very happy to stay home and not deal with people for the past year. I am absolutely a home body who can contentedly consume and\or create art and media with little to no human interaction. (Besides my husband. I’m certainly grateful to have shared our space together for this long stretch. I would definitely not have felt so comfortable being alone without him, home body or not.) But the truth is that I am excited to see our friends again. I am looking forward to hugging people. I even want people to come to our house. And I almost never want that!

But lets go back to fiction writing. When I was eating compulsively, I had a warped relationship to time. I didn’t have a clear idea of how long things took. I didn’t have any skill with planning my day. I was late for everything. I didn’t know what could be done and what could not. I lived as if wanting to do something should necessarily create the time in which to do it. And I was frustrated and angry at life when it did not.

Getting my eating under control didn’t change my relationship to time over night. It changed because it became wrapped up in the idea of commitment. First with the food. I had a commitment to eat three meals a day. To have the first meal between 6am and noon, the second between noon and 4pm, and dinner before midnight. And sometimes that meant stopping what I was doing in order to eat. It meant looking at the time I had and making sure I could fit meals in. Eventually my commitments grew and I needed to fit time in for those as well.

And that made me prioritize. Meals have been first priority for the whole time I have had my boundaries. But then other things became second and third priorities too. Sleep. Exercise. Rest. Creating. Being places on time. Working to make enough money to pay my bills. (Believe it or not, this was not a priority before I got my eating under control. How did I live? With a lot of stress.)

When I started working for my company a few years ago, I had not been working regularly and I had been writing fiction. (My husband was working.) But when I took on my job, I gave up writing. I stopped consciously. It didn’t peter out or fall by the wayside. I made a calculated decision that reading, knitting and crochet, sleeping, and quality time with my husband were all more important than writing when the majority of my time was going to a good job making good money, on top of all of my other commitments. And in working full time I had the added time suck of having to prep meals for the week since I would no longer be home to make them on the spot. 

It was a gift to make the choice. I didn’t have to feel resentful of the things I was doing over the things I was missing. I could honor the path I chose. And in choosing it I was free to change my mind and choose something else. I could have, but I didn’t. Until now? 

Lately I have been thinking about writing again. I have a new novel bouncing around in my head. And the prospect of writing it is both exciting and daunting. And I don’t know what I want to do about it. Or if I am going to be willing to make time to write when I am back to my 40-hour-a-week job. But I know how to use priorities as a tool. And I first learned that by making my eating boundaries a priority. 

I found that once I understood how to choose my priorities and use them for living, I was free to find peace around the choices I made, and to love my life the way it is. Because I *knew* that I chose it.

The honest to god truth is that we are all choosing our priorities every day. But some of us don’t know it yet. It seems easier to blame situation and circumstance. But once I chose my commitments, I had power over my life. So I am going to make writing fiction a priority. For now. And if I don’t like it, I can change my mind. It’s my life and my time. I do what I want. And I have the privilege of knowing it.

I still love food. I just don’t feel bad about it anymore.

I love to eat. It is my favorite thing to do. That did not change when I put boundaries around my eating. In fact, it got so much better.

For almost all of the first 28 years of my life, I had a very complicated relationship with food. I loved food, and I loved to eat. It was my friend and my solace. But I was fat. And I was judged and harassed and tormented for it. And that made eating humiliating. Because when you are fat, everybody treats you like what you eat is their business.

And I also did not have control over my eating. I could not stop when I wanted to. I could not have one and walk away. I could not “just push away from the table.” 

People often talk about chasing that first high, but I have been addicted to sugar for longer than I can remember. I don’t have any recollection of that first high. I just knew that I wanted to have a thin body, and that I hated my fat body, and that I still could not manage my eating.

So food was my best friend in secret and my worst enemy out in the world. To be a fat person who openly loves to eat is to be a target. It opens you up to the judgment of family, friends and strangers alike. You are accused of promoting ill health, and of propagating such deadly sins as gluttony and sloth. 

But when I eat within my boundaries, boundaries that don’t include my addictive drug foods, I eat guilt-free. And when I keep that promise to myself, to eat within my strict parameters, I don’t have to even acknowledge judgments about it. My food and my body ceased to be anyone else’s business in my own mind. Because my food and my body were never anyone else’s business. But I didn’t know because I was all wrapped up in the simultaneous shame and euphoria of eating to get high.

If the only way to get my eating under control was to stop caring about food, I never would have been able to do that. I needed to be able to work with what I had. And I already had a deep love of eating. So now I use the food as a defense against the food. I eat the most delicious meals I can 3 times a day. And they don’t include foods I am addicted to. And that means that I still love to eat. But I don’t have any of that guilt or shame. I don’t feel like I need to hide it. And it doesn’t control me anymore with cravings.

I don’t dance when the gorilla is around.

I got my first vaccine shot this week. And for the past 2 days I have been positively ravenous! 

When I googled “Is hunger a side effect,” one of the auto fill options was “of the COVID vaccine” so I am perhaps not the only one. Though I can’t find any articles or papers that say it *is* a side effect of the vaccine.

But the important part of this for me is that I didn’t eat in between meals. I didn’t eat outside of my food boundaries. What I did do was eat heavy.

The best thing about my eating boundaries is that they have a lot of room for circumstance. It’s like a padded wall. It’s soft. But it’s still a wall. 

I eat mostly the same few things daily and weekly. I know what I like. I don’t get tired of it. I look forward to my meals. They are my moment of pause and pleasure in the day, three times a day. And I am almost never hungry.

But really, what I can appreciate about the past few days is that I am not ruled by hunger. And I was ruled by it for years. Though I don’t think that it was true hunger. I ate out of boredom. I ate to numb my uncomfortable feelings. I ate because I felt compelled to eat. All the time. I craved. I craved constantly.

I can imagine how crazy it might sound to normal eaters to say that I was ravenous and I did not eat in between meals. Or eat more than usual. I can imagine that the idea that I would “suffer” through hunger seems a little extreme.

It is extreme. Because my food addiction is also extreme. And I can tell you very clearly, that two days of feeling hungry and not eating more to satisfy my pangs is not nearly the level of suffering that having no control over my eating was. It is not nearly as terrifying as knowing you have no say over what goes in your mouth or your body. And when I am eating compulsively, I have no control, and no say. 

They say addicts picking up their drug is like agreeing to dance with a gorilla. You may choose when to start, but it’s the gorilla who decides when you stop.

Yes, I was hungry for a few hours between meals, for consecutive days. It was not the most comfortable feeling. But it was nothing compared to the possibility of dancing with the gorilla.

But I will say that I cooked my broccoli in even more butter and olive oil than I usually do. And I ate pork rinds twice in the same day, which I don’t do often. And that helped.

Basically, I have rules, but they are letter of the law rules. And the spirit of the law *is* letter of the law. I am not on a diet. I have a diet. If I have a 1 pound apple, that is just as much “1” apple as a 6 oz apple. 

People who do what I do don’t hide these things from each other. It’s not shameful to want the biggest and the best. It is encouraged. We shout it from the rooftops. In fact, when I lived in NYC, people would text each other things like “Citarella on the UWS has 1 pound honeycrisps.” Or “I got a cantaloupe bigger than my head at the farmers market.” It was a right of passage to take someone to the (sadly now closed) restaurant where they provided scales and cups for weighing and measuring, and to order the newcomer the deep fried tofu that dripped with hot grease and was crispy on the outside with the light pillowy center. (Also, if you know where in the Chicagoland area I can get some deep fried tofu, hit a girl up!)

I was fine not eating when I was hungry. But not out of some twisted form of vanity. I don’t put boundaries around my eating to be, or get, or stay skinny. I do it to stay off the dance floor while the gorilla is around. And the gorilla is always around.

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