onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “eating boundaries”

It Sucked, But Then It Passed: A Life Story

This past week was challenging. In particular, because so many things happened all at once. One of the wheels on one of our sliding glass shower doors broke, so we couldn’t touch that door at all, or the door would fall off the track into the tub and inevitably shatter. But then, our pipes got clogged and we had to call a plumber to snake out the tree roots that grow in our pipes sometimes. (It’s an old house with old pipes in a neighborhood with a lot of trees.) So we needed to make sure everyone knew not to touch the door while neither of us could be there personally. And of course that was also the day the mechanic called to say that my car, which had been damaged in a small accident a month ago, was finally ready to be picked up. And we had been paying a lot of money for a rental car. All while I’m working 12-13 hour days with an hour commute each way, and my husband is doing the same, only also on Saturday and he works the night shift. 

Thankfully, I know how to ask for help. My mom and step-dad really came through for me. Coming to my house to deal with the plumber, *and* picking up my car from the body shop. 

I also know how to take care of things myself. I drove my rental back to the airport, and took a ride share back home on my own so my husband and my mom didn’t have to deal with that as well after doing so much. 

And my husband ordered parts for the shower door and managed to fix it himself. Though the parts didn’t come until after the plumber came. 

In other words, it all went to hell in a day or two, and within another day or two, all of it was resolved. 

This too shall pass. 

I don’t want to say that it was easy. And it would be a lie to say that my husband and I didn’t fight over logistics, and who needed to be responsible for what. Because we did. Because we are both tired and overworked and having emergencies come up in our personal lives, while we are already putting out work fires left and right, is a lot, and sometimes felt like it was more than we could handle. Or at least more than *I* could handle. But in the end, it was manageable. And together, and with help, we managed.

When I was eating compulsively, I could never see a way out of any difficult situation. It always felt like every problem would persist eternally. And that terrified and troubled me. And it often made me make stupid, reckless decisions. Or paralyzed me so I couldn’t do anything at all, a kind of stupid, reckless decision in itself.

The truth is, I can’t usually see a way out of difficult situations now, either. The difference is, I know now that all things pass. I know that situations change and work themselves out. I know that resistance usually makes things worse, not better. I know that if you ride the ups and downs, they all smooth out in the end.

That surrender, that willingness to trust that this or that rough patch will get worked out, either by me, or someone else, or perhaps just by life, is something I got only by putting boundaries around my eating. The addict in me has no use for patience or peace or trust. Chaos was a great chance to retreat from the world and eat a cake. Both because I wanted to forget the chaos, and because I got so high on the cake.

When I was in the food and eating compulsively, my life was mostly trouble and chaos with very few moments of peace and clam, or at the very least it felt that way. Since getting my eating under control, my life is mostly peace and calm, with a few moments of trouble and chaos. Part of that is my perception. But part of that is also my ability to take action with a clear head in the face of fear. The fear has always been there. It just gets less of a say in my life now.

In a loving relationship. With time.

One relationship that has been transformed for the better for me since getting my eating under control is my relationship to time. I need lots of free time. And getting my eating under control has allowed me to really look at my schedule, at what needs to get done in order for me to be truly content and happy, and how much time that *actually* takes. 

I have a real, live 3 day weekend this weekend. (Technically, it is the morning of day 2.) And I considered if I wanted today to be my lazy day. But then I realized that I want my 3rd day to be my lazy day. That I really want a whole day with zero obligations except to eat my weighed and measured meals. 

So I decided that I would keep today to do all of my cooking and the laundry and run the errands I need to run.

But also, I don’t need to rush them today. I can take breaks. Rest in between tasks. Because normally, on a Sunday, I want to get through all of my obligations as quickly as possible, so I can really take one big block of time to relax and zone out at the end. But this weekend, if I get it all taken care of today, that big block of time won’t be hours, but a whole day! And considering how much I have been working lately, this sounds like pure, lazy heaven. 

In the food, I was a constant procrastinator. And that brought me a lot of stress. In having boundaries around my eating, I learned to *choose* to do things in a timely manner. Not because someone in a position of authority told me I should, but because it made sense to me and my happiness.

I will finish up with this thought. Before abstinence from my drug foods, many people told me what I “ought to” do. And I often did those things, but begrudgingly. I hated them, and the changes didn’t last. But as a person with eating boundaries, I do so many of those very same things, but by my own choice and for myself, not to please others. And in my experience, changes made for others never last. But changes made for myself by myself have helped shift the way I think, and therefore the way I live.

“How do I flip this PDF?”and other terrifying questions.

I have been having a hard time thinking about what to write today. Because all I do right now is work. But I suppose there is something to say about work in my food addiction blog. It’s about what I sometimes call my “primordial brain,” and how much of my thinking stems from a deep seated expectation that I am always in trouble. 

Regularly in my job, my boss will call me into his office. And every time he does, my immediate thoughts are that I am in trouble. That I have royally screwed something up. That I have single handedly, through some colossal data entry error, cost my company *billions* of dollars. And every time he calls me in, it is over some form of IT trouble he is having. Why won’t this print 11×17? How do I flip this PDF over? How do I get rid of/add this line to a Word doc?

For over a month I have been having a mild panic attack every time he calls out to come to his office. Even though I have never been in trouble. Because being in trouble is so old and historic that it lives in my body like a truth.

So here is why having eating boundaries saves my life. When my eating is under control, I can feel the primordial panic, tuck it away into a far corner of my brain, and walk into the office. Once it is clear that I have not cost the company billions and brought ruin upon my home and family for all of eternity, the little nugget of panic can fall away. 

But if I were eating my drug foods, that panic would eat at me. I would hear that call and immediately begin cataloguing all of the things I did wrong. Or potentially did wrong. Or could be perceived as wrong by someone in charge of my job. I would be coming up with excuses to make and people to blame for problems that didn’t even exist. I would be figuring out how to avoid going into that office. The point is that even if I didn’t do anything wrong, I would do “wrong,” or desperate, or disingenuous things to avoid getting in trouble. I would be *making* trouble for myself to get out of my fear of being in trouble. It wouldn’t matter that I had not done anything wrong in the first place. 

When my eating is under control, I see things clearly. I see myself clearly. And I don’t have to project my greatest, and unfounded fears onto the future. I can stand up, walk into the office and face whatever there is to face. Like a frustrated boss asking, “why can’t I open this attachment?”

Living the life I actually have

I recently stopped running. It was a difficult, and frankly, really scary decision to make. But I made it. And I am grateful and glad I did.

About a week after I started my new job, the job changed. The workload quadrupled, the stakes were raised for my company, and my personal stress level went through the roof. (I started to break out in hives! Hives!) 

I told my boss that I needed help, and he told me that they would get me an admin, but as of yet, I don’t have one. And it means that I work over 12 hours a day 4 days a week, and 9 on Thursdays when I have my food meeting for people with the same food boundaries as me. I am working about 60 hours in 5 days. I insisted that I could not work 6 days. Since my husband is also working over 12 hours a day, but he *is* working 6 days a week, and he is running the night shift (I cannot tell you how much I hate it.) I need two days off to do all of the things that he now can’t do for himself. I have to do his grocery shopping, his laundry, and keep the house as tolerably clean as I can (my friends, it is not particularly clean) on top of my weekly food prep, which now includes breakfasts as well as lunches.

So I leave for work at 5:30 in the morning, I work from 6:30 in the morning until 7 at night. I get home around 8 pm, and I only have time to get my food and clothes ready for the next day, scarf down a small dinner and get into bed by 9:30 to get about 7 1/2 hours of sleep. 

It was my husband who recommended I stop running for now. And I was terrified at the prospect. It is a thing I have done for so long as a commitment and a priority that to give it up felt like I was going to become unreliable again, like I was when I was in the food. It felt like I was going to slide down that slippery slope of laziness and shame.

But I am not the person I was when I was eating compulsively. I am a person who knows how to go with the flow, and how to adapt to new and uncomfortable situations. And ultimately I am grateful for my husband’s loving suggestion that sleep is more important than exercise when both are just really not an option.

And I am happy to remember that this too shall pass. That this job will slow, and eventually end. That all of this should be calmer by Christmas, and the new year should see me settled back into my slower schedule and more peaceful work life. I can trust that I can get back on the pavement in 2022.

Getting my eating under control taught me about priorities. At this moment, my job is a priority. Sleep is a priority. And of course my food boundaries are always my first priority. But when I have more time, more than just to sleep, and work and honor my food boundaries, running will go back on my priority list. But for now I am going to live the life I actually have.

Does my ice cream bowl miss me?

My week has been insane and full of ups and downs. I have been under a huge amount of stress. And I have not been hungry. Which is an interesting thing for a compulsive eater. 

Perhaps I should rephrase that. It is not just that I am not hungry. I have lots and lots of experience eating when I am not hungry. I mean I don’t want to eat. I mean I am forcing myself to eat my meals. I mean I am choking them down. 

Because of this I have changed what I eat for some meals. For example, at dinner I have been eating 2 eggs, instead of my delicious delicacies like my homemade ice cream with soy nuts, or pork rinds. And I have also had to make a few calls to emotionally recommit to eating my food. Because I have not wanted to eat so much that I scared myself with the thought of not eating.

I eat my meals because eating my meals is what I do. I am not on a diet. Not being hungry isn’t “a great chance to skip meals and lose weight.” Not being hungry means I make my meals as small as possible within my boundaries and eat them anyway. Because I eat three portioned out meals a day. No matter what.

If you think what I do with food is about weight and weight loss then this may be confusing to you. But I do what I do with food because I don’t have a normal relationship with food. I don’t know how to “eat intuitively” and I don’t know when I have had enough. For right now I may not want to eat, but this, too, shall pass. And when it does I want to be right here where I am with my food addiction under control, my boundaries in tact, and my ice cream bowl sitting in the freezer just waiting for me to make ice cream.

A life beyond your wildest dreams will spoil you for anything less

Oh guys. This one is going to be short because I am tired. 

I worked 56 hours this week. Fifty-six. And that doesn’t count my hour commute each way. (Thank heaven for audiobooks! They make the commute a pleasure rather than a chore.) If you know me, you know this is not how I roll. I like a lot of free time. I like my time even more than I like money.

Since I took this job (19 days ago. Not even 3 full weeks.) the workload for me alone has increased fourfold. And my husband, who was not even on this job, has agreed to run the night shift. An actual night shift. Until December. So we will barely see one another for the rest of the year. 

Here’s the thing. I am not entirely unhappy. I do really like the job just because I am that good at it. In many ways, this job was custom made for me. I was trained for exactly this kind of detailed tracking. And the company I work for just gave me a *huge* raise. I mean, I asked for it, but they gave it to me. 

But I am tired. And I hate the idea that I won’t get to spend time with my husband. I married him because I genuinely love his company. We have talked about the times we can spend together. 4 am, my wake up and before his bedtime. The time we may be at work at the same time when he has a break. And I am trying to work out the best way to get the job done and still take care of myself. How to fit in my run and my meditation and my full night’s sleep and cooking my meals for the week.

Because, as I have said in this blog before, self care is not all bubble baths and spa days. Self care kind of sucks. I don’t want to wake up at 4 to run. But I do. I don’t want to spend hours of my precious weekend cooking for the week. But I do. I don’t want to stop and meditate and have to be still for 3 minutes when I am busy and already feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day. But I do. (OK, mostly I do. I sometimes forget. But I am committed to 3 minutes daily.) I don’t want to put down whatever I am doing to go to bed….Actually, nope. That last one was a lie. I like the shit out of going to bed.

Having my eating under control gives me the possibility of enjoying living the life I have instead of lamenting the life I think I should have. It lets me be flexible. It lets me prioritize. And it keeps me clear about the reality of my situation. If I come to be miserable, if it starts to hurt my marriage, if I make myself sick, I know that I can ask for help, or back off my hours, or even just quit. Having my eating under control lets me see myself clearly, my options clearly, and the reality of my situation clearly. 

Putting boundaries around my eating offered me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I am not going to settle for less than that anymore. So for now, I am going to do the best job I can. And if it ever no longer serves me, I know that I can move on. I will trust that life is giving me what I need, and that it will continue to do so.

Maybe the least weird thing I have ever done with food

This week I am going to talk a little about the practical aspects of keeping my eating boundaries.


I work on the office side of construction. I do things like make sure workers get paid and keep the paper trails of what was built when, and who signed off on it. And a lot of times, the thing getting built is getting built where there was previously just a big field. So often there are no restaurants or grocery stores close by. When I have a job where I go into a physical office, especially when that job is in the middle of nowhere, I keep backup food on the job site.


Today I will cook and pack meals for the week. And every morning I will pack my bag with a breakfast and a lunch to bring into the office. And they will be decadent and delicious.

But sometimes something happens. Sometimes things go wrong. Food spills or spoils. Or heaven forbid, I *forget* to pack my food and I drive the 45+ minutes to the job site. 

In my office I keep an emergency food bag. It has an extra food scale and extra batteries. It has canned pineapple and a can opener. It has boxes of milk that last for months without refrigeration. It has several kinds of protein options like cheese crisps, bags of pepperoni, and soy nuts. Plus a jar of wheat germ and a jar of pickles. It is more than enough to feed myself within my boundaries for two entire days. I keep all of it in a little box in the corner of my office. In a perfect world it will all go bad and get thrown out at the end of the job. But it is not a perfect world and I am not perfect.


The items in this box will not add up to a decadent meal. They will be fine. Even tasty. But not anything as delicious or exciting as the meals I will make myself today in my kitchen with everything at my disposal. But they will make meals that are 100% within my boundaries. And that is the most important thing for me. Even if the meal is meh, I will still have my abstinence. And the chance to eat another guilt-free, 5 star, 10/10 meal at dinner.

I have kept my eating boundaries for over 15 years by doing things like this. By having a plan for trouble. By putting preparations in place in case trouble comes. By protecting my eating boundaries from circumstances. 
Getting my eating under control is still the best thing that ever happened to me. I want to live like this for the rest of my life. It is not a chore or a punishment to me. It is a gift and a blessing. And I will do whatever it takes to keep it. 

When I think about the things I did to get sugar – the lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, the ways I ignored danger – just to eat, I think that keeping a box of food in my office may be the least weird thing I have ever done with food.

Boundaries are a Love Language

I am planning a fun little trip to LA in September. I will fly in on a Thursday, and out on a Monday. I am specifically going to see a friend, and my husband doesn’t want to take the time off of work because we are planning a big Florida trip in October. So I will be going go by myself. And in making my plans I got in touch with my friend about dates and times and whatnot. And she very generously, and very kindly, told me that she would only have a certain amount of time to give me in the days I will be there. And can I just say, I freaking loved it!

One thing I understand now after 15 years of having boundaries around my eating is that as a person with boundaries, I love it when other people have boundaries too.

The truth is that I was not expecting my friend to give me all of that time in LA. I’m a loner, by nature. I can and do amuse myself alone. All the time. I am good at it. I enjoy my own company. But knowing, in no uncertain terms, what I can expect, what I can ask for, what is on offer, and what I will be responsible for makes my life easier.

Boundaries are a life tool. They are how I manage my priorities and my time for myself. They are how I organize and create my day and my experiences. But when offered up to someone else, they are a kind of love language. This is how you can care for me. This is how you can honor me. This is how you can respect me.

Before I got my eating under control, I did not have any boundaries. And I hated other people’s boundaries. I wanted to please people so they would like me. But that is not how people pleasing works. People pleasing makes people like what you can do for them. They stop seeing the person, and only what can be gained from the person. I didn’t have any way to say no, so I would give more than I could and then behave badly when I couldn’t take any more. I was “an exploding doormat.” I let you walk all over me until I blew up.

In setting boundaries, in taking care of my own needs first, I don’t need to blow up. I can walk away. I can disengage with love. I have told you how I will be treated. And I *will* be treated with the respect that I dictate. Or I will walk away. 

My relationships are very different now than they were when I was eating compulsively. I like myself better. I like the people in my life better. Not because they are different, but because I am different. Because I have set the tone of respect and honor. Because I offer honor and expect it in return. And the people from my past who could not or would not learn to honor me and allow me to honor them, have all fallen away. 

Because there is another little tidbit to this. To set a clear boundary is to preempt drama. To speak your truth, and ask for what you want, and make clear what you have the capacity to give, is to give shape to expectations.

My first boundaries were around my food. But those boundaries I set for myself forced me to set them for others. If I wasn’t going to eat sugar and carbohydrates, I had to say no when my beloved grandma wanted me to eat her spaghetti and meatballs. Or when someone brought a cake especially for my birthday, or when someone wanted a taste of my meal that I had weighed out and committed and could not share. 

I am eternally grateful for the gift of having my eating under control for many reasons. But learning to have and keep boundaries is one of the most useful and freeing aspects of that gift.

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.

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