There is a prevalent theory about eating disorders that I see a lot as someone who likes to stay abreast of what is going on in fat acceptance/body positivity communities. The idea is that food is neutral, and that food addiction, especially sugar addiction, is “false.” It does not exist. It is a made up concept created and fueled by the diet culture.
This kind of frustrates me. Only a little. Because I know very clearly sugar addiction is not only true for me, but knowing it and acting accordingly, has transformed my life for the better. I want others to get the opportunity that I got, but I don’t have to worry about it because I am completely taken care of.
Is this selfish? Sure. Do I care? Not particularly. One thing I learned early in keeping boundaries around my eating was that *if* people want what I have they can do what I do. That I am planting seeds all the time. And that what other people put in their bodies is none of my business. I keep my eyes on my own plate.
But I read a post by a dietitian and fat activist the other day. This is a person who is entirely anti-weight loss and claims quite emphatically that sugar addiction does not exist. Which is fine. But they had one post where they listed a number of questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble with guilt or upset over your eating while in quarantine, and another with the recommendation that one “sit in the yuck.”
So I have to say that I whole heartedly agree that “sitting in the yuck” is crucial! And the questions they asked were excellent!
But how can someone like me do this if we are high on the food we are feeling guilty over eating? And for me, to sit in the yuck necessarily means not eating the foods that get me high and make me numb. I can’t feel the yuck and be numb at the same time.
Perhaps if one is not addicted to certain foods this makes perfect sense. But whether this person believes it or not, I am addicted to certain foods. And this advice is missing a crucial aspect if the person using it can get high on cake and not have to actually feel the yuck.
There is a saying I always appreciated. If you want to know what you are using over, stop using. When I quit smoking, it became glaringly clear to me that smoking was how I kept from feeling, or having to acknowledge for myself, others’ judgements of me. When I went to the grocery store for the first time after I quit, I was forced to see the way that the checkout ladies rolled their eyes and sneered at me. (I insisted on packing my own grocery bags since I had to carry them a mile home on foot, and I could get everything perfectly into 3 shoulder bags and they always packed them light and then just put what was left in plastic bags I would have to carry in my hands.) I used to light up a cigarette right after I shopped. And when I couldn’t, because I didn’t do that anymore, I broke down and cried on my walk home, loaded down with a week’s worth of groceries.
But ultimately, I was taken care of because I took care of myself. And I sat through the yuck. And I learned not to care that these women didn’t like me. Really not care. Not artificially not care because I was hopped up on nicotine.
I don’t pretend that everyone is addicted to sugar. And even if they are, I don’t care about that either. I met my husband (again – we were childhood friends) after I quit smoking, and moved across the country to be with him and eventually married him when he was a two-pack-a-day smoker. I don’t care what you eat! I don’t care if you smoke! I don’t need to judge anyone.
But if food is killing you, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, and you are trying really hard to get sane and you can’t, maybe it’s not just about what is in your head and your heart. Maybe it *is* about what you are putting in your body. And maybe if you are desperate, you should try putting down the foods that you are feeling guilty over.
I will end with this. The absolute, 100 %, no-doubt best thing about putting boundaries around my eating, from day one until today (5,235 days later – a little over 14 years) is guilt-free eating. Bacon? Guilt-free! Homemade Sugar-free chocolate ice cream? Guilt-free! Deep fried onions? Guilt-free! Pork rinds? Guilt-free! I have boundaries, but that doesn’t mean I am deprived. I love my food. I love every bite. And I am so grateful that there is also always an end. Every meal concludes. And there is always another one coming. And it’s delicious and shameless!