onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “June, 2021”

Jolly good fellows

The other day I was taking to some ladies who do what I do with food, and we were talking about fellowship and community. And I was reminded how important my eating boundary community is for many many reasons. But one that is most important to me is that for the most part, nobody wants me (or anyone else) to keep boundaries around my (our) eating.


For whatever reason, having a restrictive food plan for oneself makes other people really uncomfortable.


I often avoid using the word restrictive, because I know how it sounds. But the truth is that I have a restrictive diet. I do not eat simple man-made sugars, any grains other than wheat germ, and I even abstain from some fruits and vegetables with particularly high sugar content. My diet is full of restrictions. That is a simple truth.


But I want to remind you that I am a grown-ass woman. I decide what foods I eat and what foods I don’t. The food plan that I follow does have rules. But I follow the rules because I choose to. I can leave at any time. But I like my life better when I do keep my restrictive diet. And yes, sometimes it is hard. Even if I don’t crave my drug foods anymore. Because people want me to eat a thing they made especially for me. Or they want me to have a taste of something I am allowed to eat, but it’s in between meals and they don’t see how it’s a problem, even after I have said no. Or they want me to have some cake on my birthday. Or it just hurts their hearts that I have not had any chocolate for years. “Just have one! Live a little.” (I am physically incapable of having only one. And I am living a *lot* more by not eating sugar than I would be by eating it.)


I don’t fully understand what it is about food that makes people want a say in other people’s business. In our conversation the other day, one woman said that her food life is as private as her sex life. She doesn’t want to talk about either of them with anyone outside of those directly involved. And I can thoroughly appreciate that.


My relationship with food is, if not wholly private, at least deeply personal. I was shamed for much of my life for my eating and food choices and my body size. And when I made different choices that had a significant impact on that body size, people still had all sorts of opinions about it. Now instead of being unhealthy or gluttonous, I was being restrictive and extreme.


None of those people have to live in my body with me. They don’t have to face any of the consequences of my eating. Not the consequences of cravings, not the consequences of fatness, not the consequences of body dysmorphia, not the consequences of my bulimia, or anorexic thinking, or self-loathing or depression or any of the myriad effects that eating compulsively has on my brain or my body or my soul.


I need my food community because they are there to support me in what *I* want with food and my body. They are there to support me in fighting my addiction. For them, this situation is life or death. Just like it is for me. And if you think I am being dramatic, you must be a particularly well adjusted person with a happy life. And I am very happy for you. But it solidifies for me that you are not at all qualified to comment on my food.

Hi ho the darry o that cheese hits the spot

I have a newish food obsession. Moon cheese. It’s just cheese. But I think it is dehydrated. Like when I was a kid and the Museum of Science and Industry sold dehydrated “Astronaut Ice Cream” in the gift shop. I have been having a little of this cheese for at least one meal every day. And it hits the spot.

I mean this very specifically. “Hits the spot,” is exactly the right phrase for the way I feel satisfied and content after eating it. Like an itch has been scratched.

When I was eating compulsively I did not experience much satisfaction from food. Or if I did, it was fleeting. I was always chasing that feeling. Some people say that addiction is just chasing that first high. But I have been a sugar addict for longer than I can remember. I don’t remember the first high. 

I have met sugar addicts who were not addicts as children. Their relationship with food wasn’t problematic early in life, like mine. It happened for them during puberty or adulthood. But for me, food, and how that food affected my body, was constantly in my head. Even as a young child I was embarrassed and ashamed of my body, and I knew that people were judging me for both my appetite and appearance, but also, I was relentlessly obsessed with sugar and processed foods.

Those foods I was obsessed with never satisfied me because they acted like drugs. And like drugs, they set up a craving for more. So instead of feeling full, even if I was stuffed to the gills, I always felt empty, hungry, ravenous. The problem was in my brain. Now, because I don’t eat drug foods anymore, eating does not make me crave. It does not make me “need” more of the same. 

Now my food is delicious. And it keeps me nourished. And I do not generally feel much hunger. Ever. But this satisfaction is such an unexpected joy in so many ways. To not think about food constantly has been the greatest gift of my life. But to be satisfied, to have the itch scratched, and the spot hit, is such a pleasant and unanticipated surprise. It is a gift! And I got it by keeping my eating boundaries.

Truth *and* consequences

I’m listening to a book series right now that I do not want to put down. (I am a huge audiobook fan. I can do so many things, like exercise or cook, and enjoy a novel at the same time.) But I have things to do right now that require all of my attention, like writing this blog or doing some work for my job, and I have to put it down. Waaahhh!!!

When I was eating compulsively I would have just continued with my book, and the consequences be damned. I let a lot of things fall by the wayside before I had boundaries around my eating. I did what felt good in the moment.

But of course there were consequences. The biggest was the stress that came from being out of integrity. And I didn’t even think of it that way. I didn’t even know at the time how to acknowledge that I owed something and that in not paying up, I was harming myself to myself. It always looked to me like it was about other people. The people I owed something to: teachers, friends, parents. 

For me, the consequences never ended up being as bad as the stress I caused myself. But also, the consequences never registered for me as completion. 

When I got my eating under control I learned how to let things go. But here is the important piece that I never understood before then. You cannot let something go until you see and acknowledge the truth of it. So if I, let’s say, didn’t do a homework assignment, and I got a bad grade, I could not look at either my responsibility to do the work, or the fairness of the grade. And therefore it never left me. I never moved on. I still had the yucky feelings of both my bad behavior and the consequence. Even though I already *paid the consequence*!

You would think that having paid the consequences would mean that I could move on. The transaction was complete. The fine was paid. Except I never wanted to look directly at the infraction. I never wanted to acknowledge what was my fault, my doing, my responsibility. I never wanted to see what I was doing, and by virtue of that, who I was being in my life.

In getting my eating under control I learned how to look at what I did and did not do within the framework of my integrity, my word, and what I wanted to create and put out in the world. 

A friend of mine sometimes talks about thinking about herself when she was eating compulsively as “a floating head.” She didn’t want to think of her body as herself. She could not confront the idea that she and her body were one.  

I often thought of my integrity that way. I thought that what I liked and admired, what I thought and believed, was who I was. But of course who I am is what I do in the world and how I interact with its inhabitants.

So for this moment I am keeping my commitment to write this blog. And in a minute I am going to do the work I need to get done. And then, with a clear conscience, when it is time for cooking or knitting or relaxing, I will get back to my book! And there will be no consequences except the exquisite feelings I get from a good novel.

Keeping it to yourself: the gift that keeps on giving!

Today is my birthday! I’m 44! Hooray!

About 5 1/2 years ago, I started working out regularly, 5 days a week. I had left New York City, where significant portions of my daily travels were done by walking, a few years before. But even in the suburbs of Chicago, I was still using my own two feet as transportation. But in early 2016, when we moved to Kentucky, I got a driver’s license and a car. And I thought to myself, “Kate, you are very clearly never going to move your body again now that you can drive.” So I started my bare minimum workout.

And that workout has done me well over the past few years. It keeps me sane. It has especially kept me grounded and emotionally elastic over the past year and a half, which were particularly stressful for me. 

But I don’t workout to lose weight. I don’t do it to sculpt or tone. I don’t do it to wrangle my body into a traditionally pleasing shape for the benefit of the eyes of others. I do it because that is how one cares for a body. And my body has been particularly good to me over the course of my 44 years.

But this thing happens every once in a while and I hate it. Someone will see me on my jog and tell me “it’s working” and that they can see how I am losing weight.

The other day, I was running, and a neighbor, not one I know, called out that she was proud of me and she could see how much weight I was losing. Ugh! Cringe!

First, let me be clear. I have not lost weight in the past 5 years. I have, in fact, gained some. Not a lot. But definitely some. And I don’t actually care. When I laughingly assured the lady that I had not lost any weight, she assured me that I had and that “she has been watching me.”

This has happened to me repeatedly, not only when it comes to my workout, but also when there have been people who perceive my food boundaries as “a diet.” They will suddenly see that “that diet is working.” And they will insist that I have lost weight. (Again, I have not lost any weight in years. My “diet” is not about losing weight. I’m not *on* a diet, I *have* a diet.)

I don’t know what that thing is that happens, but it happens. Strangers and friends alike see something that they associate with someone trying to lose weight, they somehow see the weight loss, real or imagined, and then they *talk to me about my body* as if it were any of their business.

The idea of praising this perceived weight loss is that fat is bad and thin is good. Period. That any kind of “thinner” is always better than any kind of “fatter.” And I have been dealing with those judgments all of my life. I was “good” when my weight was down, and bad or shameful or “needed work” when my weight was up. And I let these judgements color how I saw my own value and worth for almost all of my life. I let the size of my body dictate how much I liked myself and how much I harmed myself for about 30 of my 44 years. That is a long history of self-hate and self-harm.

I just want to be clear, there are a very specific few humans who I speak openly and honestly with about my weight and my body now, and they know who they are. Other than them, I hate it when anyone remarks on my body, even when they think what they are saying is a compliment. And frankly, most people I know feel this same way. I don’t know many (any?) people who are interested in anyone’s opinions about their body.

The truth is that people don’t know what constitutes a compliment to me. Certainly not if they think telling me I lost weight is a compliment. Especially, though not exclusively, when I have not. And their wrong assumptions about what will please me only make me feel gross and a little angry. I even made some minor changes to my running route, because I don’t want to have to deal with that lady ever again. That is how much I hate people talking about my weight.

I love my 44-year-old body. I love the way I look, and the way I feel. But I love it for me. I love it because it is mine. And I love it because I take care of it and it takes care of me in return. So if you want to give me a gift on this celebration of my 44 trips around the sun, maybe keep your body opinions to yourself. Not just about my body, but about all bodies! It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

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