onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “food”

The strictly proverbial icing on the nonexistent cake

This week was an exciting food week for me. First, I found my favorite winter seasonal flavored coffee, cinnamon sugar cookie. (It’s even better than gingerbread, and frankly, blows pumpkin spice out of the water.) Now I usually hate it when companies start selling a season months in advance, and I certainly found it ridiculous that there was a “fall scents” display in my local grocery store this July. And if I were in New York or Chicago staring down an actual winter, I might be more annoyed than excited to find this coffee. But on the other hand, it is reaaaaaaaally good, and I’m in southern Texas where I will not have to wear four layers of pants to leave my house. Ever. So yay yummy coffee!

And then I found a meat market that will custom make me mild Italian sausage with no sugar, grains, or starch. I have not been able to find an Italian Sausage I can eat since I left the Chicago area. In fact, I was buying a bunch of it there when we traveled home to visit family, and driving it back to Kentucky in a cooler and freezing it. Now, we don’t go home by car. So we have not had sausage in months! Months I say!

And then somebody told my husband about a meat market, and I called and asked about the ingredients in their fresh sausage, and of course, it had sugar in it. But the guy told me that he could make custom orders. And he talked me through all of the ingredients one at a time, seasonings and spices, hog casing and pork, to make sure that I could have everything on the list. I had to order 25 pounds. It’s a lot. But I will freeze it, just like I did before. And it’s Italian sausage! I get to eat Italian sausage again!

Look, this has been a rough week for me emotionally. Possibly for you too. I have been heartbroken, frustrated, furious and disgusted. These kinds of emotions, and the kind of fear and anxiety about the future that I have been experiencing, are what I ate over when I was eating sugar and eating compulsively. Now I don’t eat those feelings.

But eating still makes me happy. Happier now because it is guilt free and still keeps me in a comfortable body. So I am grateful for yummy seasonal coffee, and sausage I can eat. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for so many little things, laughing with my husband, making new friends (human and animal), the time and ability to make Star Wars amigurumi (crocheted dolls), but for this recovering food addict, the food ones don’t hurt. In fact, they are the strictly proverbial icing on the nonexistent cake.

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I’ve got time, because it wasn’t really a New Year’s Resolution anyway

For me, getting my food under control was ultimately about growing up. Before that, I was irresponsible, and food let me be that way. It made me not have to feel the consequences of my actions and inactions. Under the right circumstances, vanity and fear of humiliation can be exceptional motivators. As long as I can really feel them. And as long as I am not overwhelmed with shame.

But for me, another part of growing up is recognizing the complexity of life and the world. Only children, and people who refuse to grow up, have the luxury of living in a simple, black and white world.

I have not figured out the details of my not-really-a-resolution yet. I don’t mind. I’m not ashamed. I can change any time, not just at the beginning of the year. I would rather do it right than do it “on time.” Because I want to be more peaceful, but there are other things I want too, and they make peace more complicated.

I want to be a channel for justice. I want to be a witness to the people who seem to be invisible. I want, in my own, small way to make a difference. And that means that I cannot cut ties from what is going on in the world, and in my country. Especially in my country. I believe in being a citizen of the world, but I also firmly believe that charity begins at home. First with me, and then my husband. Then our families and friends. And out in ripples. Virtual concentric circles.

January 2nd marked 11 years of food boundaries for me. (And 5 years of this blog! Whoa! That kinda took me by surprise!) That means every day without exception. And in so many ways, that one commitment 11 years ago changed the way I see the whole world.

Before I learned to put boundaries around my food, I had no boundaries at all. Not with my food, and not with my relationships. I would use and manipulate people, and I would let myself be used and manipulated. It wasn’t conscious. I just didn’t have a frame of reference for how to say no. I didn’t like or respect myself, and I was so preoccupied with trying to control every outcome that how I was affecting people in my life was not even on my radar.

At 28 years old, putting boundaries around my food was just about my food. No sugar or carbs, 3 meals a day, with strict portion control. But that quickly meant that I had to put boundaries around my time. I had to wake up at a certain time to eat breakfast before I left for work. I had to take a break to eat lunch. No, I couldn’t grab a slice to eat while I walked. I had to eat dinner, so I could meet you for coffee, but I had to leave by 8. Even if you needed me. Even if it was important. Dinner was more important. So I ended up having to put boundaries around close relationships. And eventually I had to put boundaries around all relationships, right down to the teller at the bank and the Starbucks barista. (The truth is that on a daily basis, putting boundaries around momentary relationships with strangers like that doesn’t look that different than before, though I would probably say that I am much nicer and feel less entitled, while at the same time being much more likely to ask for exactly what I want. With a smile.) What started as a simple (okay, not so simple) act of taking care of what I was eating, radiated out from me, into all of my interactions in the world.

The truth is, if I want peace alone, I can put myself in a news and politics blackout. I already have a cutoff. I will not watch physical violence. Sometimes, when my husband is watching a video I find disturbing, I leave the room, or ask him to. I do not watch videos of people being killed, tortured, or maimed.

But there is a lot of violence in politics right now. And just because it is not blunt objects, or bullets and blood, I have let my guard down. And it is painful for me. I am sensitive to violence. But I am ultimately in favor of being sensitive to it, because the alternative seems to be desensitization.

There is the complexity. How do I protect myself, while still being available? How do I do with my heart what I do with my food? How do I make sure I am true to myself and who I want to be in the world, without creating a toxic environment in my own head?

I know that I need to up my meditation. Once a day is not enough. But what do I do to limit my intake of those things that fill me with rage? The violence, the hatred, the lies, the corruption, the pettiness, and sometimes just the sheer stupidity?

It’s not like the food. With the food, I can stop seeing it. I can put myself in a blackout, because food that is not mine does not affect me; it’s none of my business. But politics does affect me, and is my business.

To not be political is its own kind of politics, and I cannot, in good conscience be a member of that “party.” It’s not that I don’t know where I stand. It’s that I need to figure out how to stand here with peace and love in my heart.

So for now, I will up my meditation. And while I am meditating, I will ask for the answer to this dilemma. And that answer will come in its own time. But I’m in no hurry. Because it wasn’t really a New Year’s Resolution anyway.

 

Winter is coming. But first, apples and hot coffee.

I love summer. Seriously. I love heat. You will never hear me complain about humidity. If I am home alone, I regularly turn off the air conditioner in the summer.

I also hate being cold. I don’t experience cold as discomfort. It is all-out pain to me. And I can get cold in temperatures in the 70s. 75 is my comfort cut off. If it’s cooler than 75 and the sun is not directly on me, I need a sweater.

I will note that this is a side effect of losing so much weight. Or maybe it has more to do with not eating sugar. When I was fat, I was hot all the time. Even in the middle of Chicago winters. I sometimes wonder if cold registers as so painful to me because it was foreign to me for so much of my life. But it has progressed. Every year I don’t eat sugar, grains or starch, the colder I get, and the higher my comfort temperature gets. 5 or so years ago, I was perfectly comfortable when it was in the high 60s.

So there is this part of me that is a little anxious about the end of summer. The leaves here are changing and it got cold last night. I am afraid of winter. And this is Chicago, so we are talking about at least 5 (and up to 8) months of pain.

But then…apples. Giant Honeycrisp apples. And Kabocha squash. And then a friend gave me a recipe for cheesecake. Real, honest-to-goodness cheesecake. Like the kind my Gram used to make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just have to substitute artificial sweetener for sugar.

Nature was no fool when it comes to autumn. The air smells so good. And the feeling of warm, soft clothes in the cool air is so comfortable. Hot coffee. Spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. (You might recognize them as “Pumpkin Spice.”) Not to mention things to do with friends and family. Apple picking, and pumpkin patches. Hay rides and bonfires.

What I need to remember at times like this, when I am afraid of the coming cold, is that this too, shall pass. Like all seasons. And all moments. Every winter will eventually give way to a new spring. And another summer.

Everything comes down to a day at a time. Everything is about being present in the moment. Because even in the midst of the bad, there is always plenty of good.

I first learned that with food. When I was first getting sober from sugar, I was also living in pain. My withdrawal symptoms, and the fog I lived in, lasted for a year and a half. I got through that a day at a time. Reading books and manga, taking walks, making friends.

Life will go on. Even in the freezing cold. And there will be happiness in the freezing cold. There will be fun and love and joy. And lots of crocheting. Scalding hot showers I don’t want to get out of. Ginger tea, and cranberry apple tea, and chai tea.

And, most importantly, there will be foods that I love! Apples and squash, sugar-free cheesecakes and pumpkin pies. (Because just because my eating is under control, it doesn’t mean I am neutral around food.)

I won’t stop being a brat and you can’t make me

So my weight gain has continued. And this time I gained a whopping 10 lbs in one month. I have now gained 22 lbs since I quit smoking. And I can’t stop crying. I really can’t stop. I’m crying right now. I cry during my morning meditation. I cry on the subway. I cry at work when nobody is looking. I cry sitting home reading. I cried while I was out having coffee with a friend. I have been puffy and red and totally dehydrated for days.
First, I hate my body. Hate it. The sight of it in the mirror makes me break down immediately. And I am deeply resentful that I have gained all of this weight without eating compulsively. I have not eaten sugar. I have not broken my food boundaries. I have not done anything “wrong.” And here I am 22 lbs heavier.
And then something even more devastating happened to me. My food quantities changed. Got smaller. Because I have gained so much weight. And I feel punished. And deprived. I feel unloved. Unacknowledged. Unappreciated. And totally powerless.
Let me note that I don’t “have to” accept these changes in my food. I buy my own food. I cook my own food. It is my responsibility to deal with my food. But there is a woman in my life that helps me make decisions about my food. I requested this help. And I have agreed to take her suggestions. I took her suggestion when she told me to eat more food because I was dropping weight quickly. And her suggestion now that I am continuing to gain weight, is for me to eat less of certain vegetables. And to eat less food in general.
This is rational. It makes sense. Obviously, if I have gained 22 lbs since I quit smoking, my metabolism has slowed way down. And since this is the case, my body doesn’t need as much food anymore.
But, of course, the vegetables I get less of are my favorites. Winter squash. Carrots. And onions! Losing my giant plates of deep fried onions is a huge blow. The idea of a portion a fraction of the size I have been eating for years makes me nauseous. (Literally. That is not an exaggeration.) It makes the thought of them repugnant to me. It ruins all of my joy in anticipating them. As of right now, I am sure I will never eat them again.
And this attitude is embarrassing to admit. Because what an obnoxious brat I’m being! If I can’t have it the way I want, I won’t have it at all! As if anyone cares if I don’t eat my favorite food anymore. As if it’s a punishment to anyone else. But I’m so hurt that I really don’t want my favorite foods. I am actually not enjoying my meals. Which is saying something, since I’m a compulsive eater and food addict.
I have never had this happen to me before. Hating my food. Being resentful of my food. Since I stopped eating compulsively, I have always been grateful. I have been mostly grateful that my eating has been under control and not running or ruining my life. But also, my food has always been delicious. And felt abundant. But then, it has always been abundant. In fact, in 6+ years, the only way my food boundaries ever changed was that I was given more. I have been used to eating huge quantities of food just to maintain a small body. I was unprepared for my food to be reduced. I haven’t been this emotional about food since I first gave up sugar and put boundaries around my eating years ago.
Maybe my food is still abundant and I’m just blinded by the fact that it is now less. I can’t tell.
And I am sorry I never realized I was skinny until I stopped being skinny. It is apparently true that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. I wish I had noticed that at 131- 133 lbs. I was a little thing. But once a fat girl, always a fat girl. At least in my own mind.
Now I weigh 154.4. I’m writing it for you because I don’t want to. I’m admitting it because it’s humiliating to admit it. And I don’t want to run from the truth.
And also, this crying and overwhelming sadness was triggered by having my food reduced, but it’s not about food. This sadness, whatever it is, is old. It’s big and deep. The tears are fat and hot. The crying makes me convulse. It hurts to breathe. The pain in me is bigger than me. Like an undetectable extension charm in Harry Potter or a bag of holding in Dungeons & Dragons. (Oh yeah. I’m a total nerd.) This pain is the same pain I had when I was 4 years old and I lay crying in my bed, and I said to God, “If this doesn’t get any easier, I’m not going to be able to do it.”
And that’s how I feel. I can’t do this, God. If you don’t make it stop I’m going to…
What, Kate? What are you going to do?
I’m like a defiant 8-year-old. I’m full of empty threats. I’ll run away. I’ll stop loving you! Or worse yet, real threats. I’ll hurt myself!
But there is a message I keep getting. Over and over. That this is my transition. Into womanhood. This might seem silly to you since I am 35. But I have been fighting growing up at every turn for my whole life. And since I got my food under control, I have been living the life of the girl I never got to be when I was actually a girl.
But I quit smoking because I wanted to grow up. And it has not escaped my notice that the weight that I have gained from this particular act of growing up has gone to my breasts, hips, thighs and belly. That it has made me curvy more than anything. Womanly. That’s the word people keep using. Womanly.
Maybe these are my last moments as a child. This bratty refusal to accept changes in my life, my body and my food with grace. And trust that God, Life and the Universe are preparing something beautiful for me. Or maybe this is limbo where that desperately terrified 4-year-old girl is in the process of passing that overwhelming pain to that grown woman who is brave and strong. The grown woman who can feel the pain without being destroyed by it. Because she has peace and love. Because she is a woman.
Because when I realize that I have no ultimatum, no leverage against God and Life, I know that I can, indeed, handle the pain. And the uncertainty. And it’s even ok if I am not willing to be graceful yet. If I insist on being a brat. I know me. I’ll give it up eventually. I’ll chose peace in the end. It’s just the kind of girl I am. And maybe it’s the kind of woman I am. And I just haven’t realized it yet…

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