onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “sugar-free”

Food may be fuel, but that’s not why I eat it.

I love to eat. If you have read my blog for a while you know this. I know that a lot of people maintain their weight by only seeing food as fuel. I do not do this.


For one thing, over the years I have come to understand that being fat was not my problem. What I was eating was a problem. But not because I was fat. Because I was miserable. I could not stop eating and that made me feel shameful and crazy.


But also, I don’t know how to stop adoring eating. I don’t *want* to stop loving my food. Food is a refuge 3 times a day. It is a daily joy.


When some people start treating food as only fuel, they are potentially making food and eating a moral issue. I don’t ever want to live that way. I choose not to eat most sugar and carbohydrates because they get me high, and then make me feel bad about myself.


But I don’t want my life goals to be about the size of my body or how little I can eat and how skinny I can be. I want to keep my addiction under wraps, but I want to love my food.


So I will tell you that one of my favorite things about traveling is finding new things I can eat. So here in Nebraska, I found a new brand of flavorings that has an almond flavor that is to die for, and a banana flavor that, when I add it to yogurt, makes it taste like banana pudding! So They are delicious and fit in my boundaries and that makes me so happy. So I am stocking up while I am here to take them home.


I expect I will love my food forever. And I am not trying to have it any other way. If food being fuel makes your life better, then I salute you. But you know what makes my life better? Yogurt that tastes like banana pudding.

My body is not an issue

I have been writing a short gratitude list every day for the past few months. And one thing that has been coming up for me a lot is how grateful I am that my body is not an issue.

A little over 15 years ago, I was doing some volunteer work for a self-help seminar. The idea was that you gave them your time and you got the seminar for free. I was poor and that worked for me. At a prep meeting, the seminar leader asked me what I wanted to get out of the seminar, and I said “I want my body to stop being an issue.”

Because for basically all of my life up until then, my body was on my mind, in some form or another, all of the time. I was obsessed with sugar and carbohydrates, and I was obsessed with my body. I was constantly worried about what it looked like to other people, what other people were thinking about my body. And what they were thinking about me because of the size and shape of my body. My own body was my enemy. I hated it. I was ashamed of it. And I was continually thinking about how to change it. Or perhaps it would be truer to say I was continually trying to figure out how to eat the way I wanted to eat, but at the same time have my body look/be socially acceptable.

Over the course of that one six month seminar, I went from being on a diet and in the first stages of being an exercise bulimic, to being an all-out exercise bulimic, to abusing laxatives, to making myself throw up, to giving up and eating myself 30 pounds heavier.

But on the last day of that seminar, I had my current boundaries around my eating in place, and I was weighing my food in the restaurant around the corner from the building where the seminar was held. In other words, by the time it was done, I had gotten what I had asked for. Or, if my body had not ceased to be an issue quite yet, I was doing the thing that would let me stop thinking and worrying obsessively about my body. I mean forever.

I don’t want to imply that I have *never* had body image problems since I put boundaries around my eating. When I quit smoking and gained at least 30 pounds, that sure did freak me out. And that was a difficult time for me emotionally.

But for the most part, in my daily living, I don’t think about my body. It doesn’t even cross my mind. I don’t walk around thinking anyone is looking at me in judgment. I don’t worry about someone saying an unkind, unsolicited remark about my body.

Before I changed my eating, I was eating myself to misery. I was harming myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually with food. With addictive foods that made me feel crazy and unhappy.

I have often noticed that when we harm someone, we have to do one of two things:
1) Own up, take responsibility, and make amends,
Or
2) Double down and make it their fault, so we don’t have to feel bad for being the jerk.

I did this to my body for most of my life. I fed it foods that are poisonous to me, and then blamed it for looking a way I hated. (Which, in retrospect was just internalized fat phobia.) Blamed it for my difficulty of mobility. Blamed it for being sub par and not as “pretty” or easy or socially acceptable as other girls and women.

But today, there I have a peace around my body that I never expected. And the even more unexpected thing is that it’s not about the size of my body. It’s not about how skinny I am, because I am not. It’s about how comfortable I am with the way I treat my body. My food is in line with my commitments to it. My exercise is to love it and care for it, period. Not to make it thinner, or shaped differently. In getting my eating under control I got to stop judging my body.

Basically, though it was fraught with difficulties at the time, I got exactly what I wanted out of that seminar. More! Because all I was looking for was to stop thinking about my body, and instead I got to love it.

Not dead yet…So expecting change

One of the most useful things about having my eating under control is my ability to change, often gracefully, sometimes less gracefully, but always with sense of well-being. If I’m not dead yet, well, then more will be revealed.


When I first put boundaries around my eating, parts of my life got very small for a while. I had to live through the withdrawal. I had to figure out how to reconfigure an entire life that had been centered around eating, specifically eating sugar and carbohydrates.


But then my life had all of this unused time in it. Time that had been spent pursuing and eating sugar. And my head had all of this new space. Space that had been taken up by my food obsession. And eventually I had both the capacity and the free time to try new things and think in new ways.


Change became a muscle I was building. It’s a muscle I continue to build. And it is invaluable in times like these. Times where flexibility and adaptability are currency. In times like the times we are living in now, people like me, who can get swept up in the current of a present in flux and an uncertain future, and just ride it until we get spit out onto the shore somewhere, are in a great position. We have the power that comes from being present in the moment. We have the power of freedom.


I have this gift because my eating is under control, which means my head is clear from both sugar fog and food obsession. I have it because upon getting the clarity of mind, I realized I had to live honestly and with integrity in all areas of my life, or I was going to end up back in food hell. I have it because I had to take on a way of life where I am rigorous with myself and deal with my own life, rather than looking to blame others. Even when others are wrong. Even when I am right and my anger is righteous. I have this gift because I got to move away from centering my life around what I want, and move toward the power of choosing what I wish to do with what I actually got.

I had to learn to make friends with my food issues. I had to learn to work around them, and make them work for me. And through that, I learned to make friends with what is so, and to not fight against the actualities of my life and my world, but use them. Or at the very least, learn to accommodate them.

Changing my eating and behavior around food also rewired my brain. In actively changing both my thoughts, and my actions, I changed a lifetime of compulsions and defaults. And I got good at change in the process. And it is a gift and a blessing that goes far beyond food or eating or the size of my body.

Turn and face the strange ch ch…

I have had a very busy week and next week is a busy week again.


We left Oklahoma for good last week. Hooray! And we have been in our home since Wednesday, which has been wonderful! But tomorrow we leave for a new job in Nebraska.


I am good at change because I have my food and my eating under control.


The world is changing. I am able to change with it. This is a blessing. Because when I say my eating is under control, I am not saying I am on a diet. Diets have never worked for me. Not to shrink my body and most definitely not to help me with my life. I have a way of eating that keeps me clear-headed and available, and a way of living that has me focus on what I can do to be the kind of person I want to be in the world.


I can examine my moods and adjust my relationship to my experiences because I have my eating under control. I can go with the flow of life because my eating is under control. I can accept that life is always changing anyway and act accordingly because my eating is under control. I do not have to hold on to the way anything used to be because my eating is under control.


If I am not numb, I am forced to look any and all situations in the eye and deal with them. If I am uncomfortable, I have to sit in it until I change enough to get comfortable.


The world is going to change. Always and forever. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small. But I am available to see it and meet it and change with it because my eating is under control.

This One Is About Racism.

It’s so hard to know what to write in a blog about food addiction and eating disorders when both the world in general, and your country specifically are in turmoil.


One thing that happened to me when I got my eating under control was that my head cleared. Partially because I was not high on sugar anymore. And partially because I stopped lying.


They say you can’t kid a kidder, but I think that is wrong. When I was lying, I was easy to lie to. Because you have to put yourself in a particular head space to be a liar. You have to muddy the waters for yourself if you are going to convince everyone else. So lying made it hard for me to see clearly.


In order to stop eating compulsively, I had to stop lying about my food. And in order to keep not lying about my food, I had to take lying off the table. It’s like the saying “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I had to be truthful in all ways to continue to be truthful about my eating.


So I have a clear head and a clear conscience. And that means I see things, all sorts of things, clearly now. And I can tell you that I see the race problem we have in the U.S. And I can see the police problem we have in the U.S. And I can see that police all over this country kill Black people without ever facing justice. Kneel on their necks until they are dead, or bust into the wrong house and shoot first, killing them in their beds or while they watch TV. And white people hiding behind the idea of “law and order” brazenly and lawlessly kill Black people.


I can see that our government has armed and armored the police to go to war with the civilian population of our country. But they can’t seem to be able to provide PPE for doctors, nurses and medical professionals in the midst of a global pandemic.


I can’t not see these things. There is no cake to numb me anymore. I am not trying to get anything over on anyone. I can’t not feel the fear and the sadness and the terror. And I can’t help but notice how many people in my life are quick to defend the actions of police and condemn the actions of Black people who are angry and scared and who have been assaulted and murdered without ever getting justice. For generations.


I was 15 when the police who beat Rodney King were acquitted. I am 42 now. I was a sheltered white girl at the time. I assumed there were things we didn’t understand. I believed that police would not do such a thing without good reason. I believed that police were doing their best in a dangerous job. I have have now had 27 years of experience. And after almost 3 decades, I no longer feel that way.


How is this about eating disorders and sugar addiction? See, when I was eating compulsively and using sugar as a drug, I could escape any yucky feeling. I could pretend the electric bill didn’t exist, until the electricity got shut off. I could pretend the deadline for the writing assignment I got for the online magazine didn’t exist. Until eventually it didn’t. And these were things that affected me directly in very real ways. I could eat a cake and pretend that it didn’t exist. And I would not have to feel…anything.


So I most certainly didn’t have to feel the pain of living in a society that prioritizes white property over Black lives. And if I did feel it, I could slip comfortably into the idea of “Why didn’t they comply? They should have just complied.” “Cops are doing a dangerous job and we have to give them some room for error.” “I understand that people are upset but violence never solved anything.”


But I feel everything now. I live it and I experience it and I can’t escape my feelings anymore. And I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. And I can’t pretend like those things I used to make me feel better, both the cake and the bullshit justifications, exist for me anymore.
One thing about the way I live now is that I have to be responsible for “cleaning my own side of the street.” So right now, the dirtiest part of my street is that I don’t say it enough. Black lives matter. Police brutality is a problem all over this country, in every state and on every level. Peaceful protests have not worked.


Stop killing Black people. Stop defending the killing of Black people. Stop making excuses for the killers of Black people.

The great relief of not eating my feelings

I don’t know what to say today. Except that quitting sugar is still the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

I have been sad and emotional this week. But yesterday I turned a corner and have been feeling better.

When I was eating compulsively, my funks never lifted that quickly. Sugar fed my depression, even if it felt like it was helping in the moment.

I am not happy all the time since I stopped eating compulsively. I am a particularly emotional person and that didn’t change when my eating changed. But what changed was my ability to change. To honor a feeling and then let it go. To be with the hurt, the frustration, the sadness, the uncertainty, the fear, and then trust. Trust that it would all shift, and that the shifts would, over all, move on an incline.

Yesterday I was talking to somebody about what it is like to have had the kind of life that “wasn’t so bad.” That others have “had it worse.”

And that is fine. Perspective is great. But it doesn’t mean that my traumas weren’t traumas. It doesn’t mean that my fears aren’t valid.

I have had a job, and a safe one, through this whole pandemic. I work from my apartment and have no need to meet with people for any work related reasons at all, except for my husband, and he was going g to be here anyway. And I have another job lined up right after this one ends. So there is at least another month of money coming in. I am grateful for the money security. I am grateful that I have it so good when so many people are struggling.

But I am scared. I am sad. I am angry. I am frustrated. I want to go home and rest for a while, and try to wrap my mind around what comes next, because I don’t believe there will be a “back to normal.” And I feeling let down that I don’t get to have a minute to pause and process that.

And I am so grateful that I am not eating those feelings.

I won’t say that food never solved anything. I believe it helped me when I was young and had too many too-big feelings for my little self to navigate. But it turned on me pretty early. And now it’s a burden I am grateful I don’t have to carry anymore.

So I am navigating a lot right now. My unhappiness as well as my great good fortune. And how to reconcile those. But sugar and the oblivion it offers is not an option. And that is a great relief.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food

I don’t have much in me today. I am emotionally exhausted, unhappy, scared and just generally anxious. And I have been crying on and off for the past 2 days. But it doesn’t have anything to do with my food. I eat 3 portion controlled meals a day, with no man made sugar or refined carbohydrates, and I don’t eat between meals.


The only “comfort food” I indulge in are my 3 meals. What most people call comfort food does not comfort me. It makes me feel numb, or crazy and out of control.


My feelings suck. I hate them. I have always hated them. But I do not eat my feelings anymore. And eventually they pass. This funk will pass. But even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food.

I’m no monk. I’m “The Drinker.”

There was a funny video on Twitter the other day about “types of people on Zoom meetings,” and one had a mug, and a cup, and a water bottle, and kept switching between them. This person was “The Drinker” and that is 100% me on Zoom meetings. But also, that is 100% me in real life. And it has been for at least as long as I have had my eating under control.


I am drinking coffee, water, herbal tea, or zero calorie soft drinks all day, every day. Because it helps. Even 14 years later it helps to have something in my hands that I get to ingest right into my body.


I feel like the way people talk about people changing their eating (*if* they are even talking about eating instead of weight loss) is as if the people changing have now become monks. Like they gave up cake for God and now they do yoga, and pray, and train for marathons in all the time that they now have that they are not eating.


I am all for all of those things if that is what gets you through. But that is sure as hell *not* what got me through.


What got me through my first two years was a pack of cigarettes a day, hours upon hours of anime, comics and books, pots and pots of coffee, bottles and cans of diet soda, and packs and packs of sugarless gum.


I quit smoking almost 8 years ago now, but for many years it helped me not eat compulsively. It was bad for me, of course. But eating compulsively was killing my soul. And I am 99.99999% sure that if I had not given up sugar and carbohydrates first, I would not have been able to quit smoking. I quit gum more than a decade ago, and to be honest, now even the thought of it makes me a little sick, and the sound of someone chewing it gives me the heebie-jeebies. But it sure did get me through in the beginning. I cut way way back on the diet soda, except when I go to a bar to hang out with my husband and/or some friends, and I may still have one as an occasional treat at home. But I don’t generally keep it in the house. And I don’t drink coffee after noon, except perhaps once in a while when we visit my mother-in-law. But there is always some drink in my hand, ready to go in my mouth.


And it’s definitely not usually water. For me, water is a thing I *force* myself to drink as an act of self care. Like my workout. It’s not a thing that helps the addict in me calm down.


I definitely believe in quitting the thing that is killing you quickest. I expect to continue that road until I’m dead. But even 14 years later, I still have my crutches to “get by.” And I am so fine with that. Better than fine. Overjoyed!


There are many things that I have learned over the years of having my eating under control, but one particularly important one is knowing that some things are “good enough.”


Did I pour 7 cups of coffee down my gullet between 7 am and noon? Maaaaaaaaybe. Did I stop at noon and switch to herbal tea? Yes! Good enough!


Knowing that I don’t have to be, or even appear, perfect is important. Because I am not. And I don’t want to worry about that. I don’t need you to look at me and think that I am a paragon of spirituality. I am just a lady who doesn’t want food to run her life anymore. And if a case of Vitamin Water Zero is gonna help with that, I’m gonna stock up.


I have done a lot of spiritual work. I had to in order to get to this place. But it has been a journey. And there are currently bacon and pork rinds on this journey. And coffee in the blender with ice and artificial sweetener. And days where all I do is eat my portion controlled meals and watch streaming TV, or read comics.


I am no monk. I am “The Drinker.” I am just a happy woman who learned to be happy with “good enough.”

Delicious and Shameless

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!

The First of Many Ways I Learned to Honor My Body

Today I am sharing the link for a documentary that I was featured in that I am really happy to be a part of. It’s called Follow me, and below is a link to rent or buy it on Vimeo.com. If you are interested, I highly recommend it.
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/followmefilm

As a person who was fat and hated it for my so much of my life, I was still terrified of giving up sugar and carbohydrates 14+ years ago. Now I treat those foods as poison, but then, I didn’t think I could have any joy if sugar was gone from my life.


But I have said it before and I will say it again: Giving up man made sugars, grains and starches is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.


When I was eating sugar, I ate even when I did not want to eat. I could not stop. My eating was completely out of my control. And that lack of control was terrifying and shameful. I felt like I was morally inferior to thin people. And because it was written all over my body, people treated me that way as well. And they were allowed to. For all of my life, fatness has been a thing it was OK to mock, and fat people a “fair target” for shame and abuse.


For a while now, I have been moving away from focusing on weight and weight loss, and moving more toward looking at freedom and happiness. Specifically, the freedom I have from food addiction and the happiness I find in having my physical cravings and mental obsession lifted.


Look, I am significantly happier in an easy body. And I am not ashamed of that. And I am grateful to not be subject to the kinds of judgement I was a target for when I was fat. And I am not ashamed of that either. But that doesn’t mean I think it was or is OK. I am just relieved to not be on the receiving end of it. That is natural.


But whatever my body looks like (and it has looked a lot of different ways over the past 14 years – skinny, strong, curvy, chubby) giving up sugar and carbohydrates has created freedom for me from not only compulsive eating, and sugar addiction, but also from the shame I felt in not being able to stop eating.


In having freedom from my sugar and carbohydrate addiction, I can have a much more gentle view of my own fatness. I can love myself and my body, in all of its various shapes and sizes through my life. I can see how beautiful I was when I was fat. Something I could not see when I was in it and cowed by food. And I can see how beautiful I am now. I can see that how much I like and love myself doesn’t have to do with my size or shape, but by how I am willing to honor my body. And for me, putting down sugar was the first of many ways I learned to do that.

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