onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “sugar”

How is an addict like the Post Office?

One amazing thing about giving up sugar and simple carbohydrates is I don’t want the stuff anymore. It’s one way I know it was a drug for me. Once it was completely out of my system, which took about a year and half, I stopped needing it, or wanting it. Or really even seeing it. It’s like I have permanent blinders on. My eyes just sort of glide over things I don’t eat, unless there is a specific reason I am looking for it. And even then, it has no power over me.

If I am buying sugar for someone else, as a gift or as a treat, I can buy it with complete neutrality. I can look at it, and not see something I desire.

Yesterday, we had bags and bags of candy in the house. Trick or Treaters made short work of it, which I have no feelings about either way. Because over the years we have had bags and bags of Halloween candy and no kids to come by to take it from us, and in those years I still did not eat the candy. I wasn’t tempted by the candy. 

The candy is not mine. It’s not for me. It’s poison to me. I ate my fair share of candy for the first 28 years of my life. More than my fair share. Certainly more than enough.

When a person is fat, their doctors inevitably send them to nutritionists. And generally, those nutritionists tell their patients about moderation. They tell them to eat *one* cookie. They tell them to eat *one* piece of chocolate. They tell them to eat *one* *small* handful of chips. 

I cannot eat one. I am incapable of stopping once I have started. When sugar and simple carbohydrates are in my body, my body craves more. My brain tells me I will positively drop dead if I don’t have more. And that first year and half after I quit that it took to get the stuff out of me was filled with brain fog, and itchy skin, and emotional outbursts, and crying, and depression, and physical and emotional exhaustion. In other words, withdrawal. Like any drug.

For me it is literally all or nothing. I can either eat none of the stuff, or I will be haunted until I have eaten it all. All of what is in the house, and once that is gone, I will take a trip back out for more. When it comes to sugar, I am like the post office. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep me from getting my fix.

If moderation works for you, I am very happy for you. If I could eat cake with impunity, I surely would. But I can’t. And if you find that when you eat a piece of candy or a cookie, you can’t stop thinking about it until you eat more, you may want to consider cutting it out entirely. Because if you do that, there will come a time when you won’t need it, or want it. It will stop having power over you. Just like it stopped having power over me.

Work Wonders

Having my eating under control has transformed my work life in ways I never expected but I am so grateful for it.


When I was in the food, I was a terrible student and employee. I was either high on sugar, or crashing from it, all of the time. I couldn’t concentrate or think straight. And I was so afraid of being reprimanded that I was willing to be dishonest or disingenuous to keep blame off of myself.


One of the things that I got from putting boundaries around my eating is the ability to be wrong, even very wrong, and be honest about it. Just let it be. And take the consequences as they come.


I did not know how to do that growing up. I didn’t know how to own up, apologize, or make amends. And I did not have any idea how transparent I was to everyone else.


I see it all the time now. The way people humor liars, cheaters, and thieves. The way they pretend to believe and accept. And the way the offenders, relieved, believe they have gotten away with it. And I suppose they have. Though not in any meaningful way. They have escaped outward consequences, if not the judgement of peers and superiors, but they have not escaped the internal consequences. Knowing you have lied does something to you inside.


I should know. I was one of those offenders for much of my life. Fear ruled me. And appearances, the appearance of innocence and rightness, seemed to be the most important part of getting through life.


In getting a handle on my sugar addiction, and fixing the wrongs I have done in my past and my present, I have changed the way I think about “trouble.”


Trouble used to be what I got in with other people. It used to be me against them. Now trouble is something I get in with myself. Now it’s me, my Ego and my fear, against me, the person I respect and like and love.

That shift has made me an excellent employee. It has made me an excellent coworker. It has made my work life one of pride in my work, and camaraderie with the people on the teams that I work with.


And not being high or strung out all the time has meant that I do quality work. I understand what I am taught. I learn quickly. I am willing to stretch my comfort zone and take on new and more complicated responsibilities. I am also up front about what I don’t know and what I have attempted but failed at.


My husband and I have just been given two new jobs to run for big clients. It’s a big deal. And there will certainly be a learning curve and probably more than a few hiccups along the way. But I don’t doubt my ability, or my worth. I know I can rise to this challenge, because I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to take it one step at a time, be honest about where I am, and willing to do things that are scary or uncomfortable.


And those are all skills I got from giving up sugar, putting boundaries around my eating, and cleaning up the messes I make in my relationships with people.


I did not expect my work life to change when I put boundaries around my food. I thought it would change my relationship to men, certainly, because when I was in the food I thought my love life troubles were about being fat. But now I can see that my troubles in all areas of my life were about my addiction. And with the sugar out of my system and out of my life, so much is different and better in ways I never expected but am eternally grateful for.

Is This Growth?

Obviously, this is my blog about how I have and keep my sugar addiction under control. And one of the ways that I do that is by keeping boundaries around my food. Part of that is weighing and measuring most of the food I eat. There are lots of rules and they make me feel safe. Having hard and fast rules means that I can eat guilt-free. Which was not a part of my life when I was eating sugar and eating compulsively.

But I am still an addict, and I still love to eat. One of the rules is that I can have half a cantaloupe for breakfast. And one of the ways that I and other people who have the same eating boundaries I do work the system, is to find the biggest cantaloupe we can. I once heard a woman tell a group of us she found one that weighed 8 pounds. And we all laughed and cheered and nodded. We all would have bought that 8 pound cantaloupe. It is not breaking the rules or crossing boundaries to do this. It is in bounds and fair game.


I have had people who don’t do what I do or understand my lifestyle tell me that buying an 8 pound cantaloupe or a 1 pound apple is “cheating.” Which only goes to show that they are mistaken as to the game I am playing. I am not on a diet. I am not trying to get skinny. I am trying to navigate my eating life, so that I am nourished, sated, and serene. I do that by keeping my boundaries. But my boundaries have a lot of room for personal choices inside them.

But over the past 3 or 4 years, my cantaloupes have gotten smaller. I mean, they are still really freaking big. But I started to realize that I don’t always love the way I feel overstuffed after breakfast when I automatically buy the biggest cantaloupe I can find. When I told a friend with food boundaries she laughed and said, “Yes, I don’t need a basketball sized cantaloupe. A volleyball sized one will do fine.”


I am still an addict when it comes to food and eating. I still always want more. Even when I am stuffed. Even when I just ate. Eating still holds all of the charge that it did when I was eating compulsively. But having boundaries is the best way for me to keep my feelings out of my food life. I can make myself sick with cantaloupe and still not feel bad about it. And I can finish a meal and be done. Even if it was wonderful and I wish I could have more. I can. At dinner. Or tomorrow. There is always another meal coming.


But I also want to say that sometimes, I eat 8 ounces of pineapple for breakfast. A nice, “normal” sized bowl of fruit. And it’s enough. More than enough. It is delicious and satisfying and gets me through the morning to lunch completely content.
I guess what I am saying is that so much of my eating life is still about how much I love to eat. How much I want to eat. How much eating still makes my life better and happier. It is not now, and never has been, and I expect never will be about eating to live, or food as fuel. It is still about eating as a joy, as a comfort. And in these times of great discomfort, food as a true comfort, without guilt and shame, is a wonderful blessing. But maybe another blessing is that I ate the second half of my very large cantaloupe for breakfast today and tomorrow’s breakfast fruit is going to be a 12 ounce apple.

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.

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.

Count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who has the same eating boundaries as I do, about people who find something else and do that instead. She said she just needed to call somebody who does what she does and say that she doesn’t want to know how other people do it. That she has a way of eating that keeps her well and happy and she doesn’t need to go looking for another solution. 

I was happy to hear it. I was grateful to be the person who she wanted to say it to. And she chose me because I am safe. I am safe because I agree. I want to do this thing I do for the rest of my life.


I am aware that everyone is different. When I hear that someone else has taken on a new way of eating that is not my way, I wish them well. I wish them peace and success. And then I remember that I already have peace and success. So I keep my eyes on my own plate and love my food.


I know a lot of people are stress eating right now. And I get it. Food is a powerful mood alterer. I know. I used it for the first 28 years of my life. But I am so incredibly grateful that I am not right now. Because to a lot of people, that eating is a temporary balm. A much needed soother. But food hasn’t been that for me since I was probably 9 or 10. That young I was already obsessed and craving. I was already lying, cheating, and stealing for a fix. And if I were to try to use it again, it would backfire on me hard and immediately. So I keep my boundaries and love my meals, and find something to do to take my mind off of my existential dread.


But truly, I have had some level of existential dread for much of my life. It’s part of being motionally sensitive with an exceptional imagination.


I am so deeply grateful to have a solution to my eating problem as well as a way of life that gives me tools to ease my worries and anxieties. I am not saying I am “fine.” I am nervous about the future. I am worried about what comes next, not just for me, my husband, my family, my life, but also the world.


But nothing in *my* life is wrong. My loved ones are all healthy. The people I know who have been infected and sick with coronavirus/Covid-19 are are all over the worst of it and are making a full recovery. I have money and food, and I genuinely like spending time with the guy I am stuck inside with. So really, I’m as lucky as it gets. I will remember to count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals.

There is no perfect configuration of hoops, so I stopped jumping.

When I am on social media, I block all diet ads. And not just the scams, like the supplements and diet shakes. I block the exercise and weight loss tracking apps as well. And the Meal delivery services. I block anything that says that if I hit on the perfect equation, I will get exactly the body I am told is the perfect, most beautiful, most desirable body.

Because for the past 42+ years, the body I have is exactly my body. Sometimes it has been fat. (300 pounds. U.S. Size 28.) Sometimes It has been skinny. (133 pounds. U.S. Size 6.) And all manner of weights and sizes in between. But certain things never change. And never will. The boxy shape of my butt, for example. The fact that my thighs touch and will never not touch. (They touched when I was my skinniest. There is just no way around it. It is about the position of my bones.) How short my very wide hips are, especially compared to my long torso. I don’t have that long graceful curve from waist to thigh. And I won’t. Because the only way to change these very specific things is with cosmetic surgery and 1) I have more important thing to spend my money on than meeting some made up ideal of feminine beauty. And 2) I really like my body. Exactly the way it is.

It took me a very long time to realize that most people who have “perfect” bodies, (bodies that fit neatly into the aesthetic of modern beauty standards) and faces, have had some form of cosmetic work done. The richer they are, the harder it is to tell, because the work is of such good quality that it looks natural. But ultimately, very few humans will ever just naturally fall into that “ideal Western beauty model.”

I once saw a post that had a side-by-side picture of a famous model (who was just recently, and with plenty of controversy, called “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World According to Science”) before and after what is obviously extensive cosmetic surgery, with the caption “No one is born ugly. Only poor.”

I am not judging people who choose cosmetic surgery. I think it is a choice, just like any lifestyle choice. And it’s none of my business.

Also, cosmetic surgery can’t keep a person skinny. That is most definitely a combination of lifestyle and genetics. I expect that people who get that kind of cosmetic surgery spend a lot of time exercising and actively not eating. (Probably actually starving, frankly.) My guess is that a lot of drugs are also involved. Or at the very least lots of cigarettes and Diet Coke.

But to be told that if I jump through some series of hoops, indeed, if I figure out the *exactly right configuration of hoops* for my body type or blood type or lifestyle type or whatever else nonsense, that I will then mold my body into exactly the “ideal beautiful body” as seen in magazines and on TV, is cruel, offensive, predatory, and blatantly false. (And that’s not even touching on Photoshopped images.)

The other reason this is so particularly offensive to me is that this myth gives society leave to judge bodies, especially women’s bodies, as a kind of character judgment. Because if [insert name of woman you would like to judge] had any willpower/self-respect/shame, she would figure out her hoops and jump through them.

I, of course, don’t believe in willpower. It has never helped me control anything to do with my weight or my eating disorders. And I have not eaten sugar for over 14 years. So as someone with the experience of abstaining, let me assure you, willpower has nothing to do with it. It has been about support, community, and the gift of desperation to stop eating constantly. I am not in possession of any moral high ground, just a deep sense of humility around my eating.

I choose a particularly specific eating lifestyle to keep my eating disorders in check. It’s no man made sugar, starches, and no grains except some wheat germ. It’s 3 meals a day with strict portion control with nothing in between but black coffee or zero calorie drinks. The boundaries I keep also help keep my weight/size within a certain range. And I am grateful for that because it means that I live mostly pain-free. I am free from the emotional and spiritual pain of addiction, free from the pain of weight on my joints, free from the pain of exertion while doing mundane things like climbing stairs or walking long distances. In other words, if you consider them hoops, I jump through them for my personal peace, not to live up to anyone else’s standards.

And I love my body the way it is. And I don’t just mean that I tolerate it. I don’t only love it for being my vehicle. I think it’s beautiful, not just useful. And I treat it like the precious thing it is.

Freedom isn’t free. And what would I do with a toaster?

Last week I waxed poetic about the amazing freedom that I get from putting boundaries around my eating. This week I want to talk about one of the less savory (though still really important) aspects of having my eating under control.
I feel all of my feelings. ALL of them!
And this week has been a difficult week for feelings. My husband and I not only live together, but we work together and we travel together. And we have both been under a ridiculous amount of stress. Tempers have been running high. We have been fighting about work. And we had an emotionally “frosty” drive home on Friday.
And then a person commented on a post of my blog last week saying, “Talk about deprivation!” And I was frustrated and angry. Because my post was all about how I am *not* deprived in the slightest. And I had to decide if I wanted to respond.
I didn’t. Because this blog is not about being “right.” And it’s not about getting people to do what I do. I’m not promoting an eating lifestyle. I am sharing my experience. I want to be a beacon. I hope I help someone who needs to hear that there is a solution to what they are suffering.
But it’s not like I get a toaster if I convince people to try my way of eating.
Also, what the hell would a person who doesn’t eat bread do with a toaster?
My point is that I felt all of those feelings this week. And more. I did a lot of crying. I did a lot of talking it out with trusted friends. But there was no escaping the reality of those feelings like there was when I was eating sugar and eating compulsively.
The thing about feelings that I learned early in putting boundaries around my eating was that you don’t get to pick and choose. It’s all or nothing. And even when you choose “nothing,” it’s not really nothing. Those feelings still live inside you. It’s just that they are twisted, and corrupted. When I finally put down sugar, I had to feel 28 years worth of feelings. 28 years worth of feelings that spent all of that time bouncing around the echo chamber of my sick, sad mind. And wow did that suck.
So now I have to feel them as they come, one at a time. But I also get to feel them as true, pure feelings. Not warped and amplified after years of pushing them down and in.
There is that saying: Freedom isn’t free. It’s usually meant to be political and patriotic. My experience is that it’s true spiritually as well.
I had to make sacrifices to get this freedom. I’m not talking about giving up cake. I am talking about giving up the numbness that accompanied my eating cake. It may not occur to you that there is a difference, but to me this is not a subtle distinction. It’s glaringly obvious to me.
So I am happy, joyous, and free. But in order to be that, I also have to be sad, frustrated, humiliated, angry, or any other feeling that comes upon me.

Something I cannot recommend enough

In the past months I have been shifting the way I frame things in this blog. I am talking less about weight loss and more about food. I don’t want to play into fat phobia with this blog. I want it to be about recovery, not judgment. About emotional and spiritual wellness, not physical size, or “health” or moral “shoulds.”

Because giving up man-made sugars, and most grains and starches, and weighing my food, is without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. The fact that I am not “on a diet” is so important. I eat delicious, decadent meals. I enjoy every bite. I’m a weirdo about it too. I totally talk to my food. I clap excitedly when I am about to dig in. I do little dances in my seat when we have a particularly delicious meal. Like when my husband makes carnitas or when I make bacon lamb burgers. (No. No tortillas or buns. No. I do not miss them.)
I certainly chose my eating boundaries in order to lose weight when I started this journey 14 years ago. But what is it they say about the best laid plans? 
The truth is I did lose weight. And there was a period of time when I was skinny. But life had other plans for me. Plans I didn’t get a say in. If it had been up to me, I definitely would have stayed skinny. But it was not up to me. 
In some ways I am grateful for not staying skinny. Because it let me know how much of my choice to stick with my eating boundaries was based on my emotional and spiritual life. 
If skinniness were the only goal, I would have quit when my weight fluctuated, and I gained weight while eating less. If that were the point, I would have gone and looked for something else. Or I potentially would have said “screw this” and gone back to sugar. Because if I couldn’t “control” my weight with this “extreme” eating plan, I might as well let it all go and eat cake. (Spoiler alert: I did *not* say “screw this” and go eat cake. And thank the heavens!)
The gifts of my eating boundaries are about how I feel about myself. I like and love myself inside and out. Not because I am a certain size. Not because I fit into a specific, socially acceptable category of feminine beauty. But because I am free from cravings and compulsion. Because I have a clear head. Because I spent my life lying and sneaking and hiding food, and lying sneaking and hiding all sorts of other things as a result. But being deeply honest about my food allowed me to be deeply honest in all areas of my life. And that honesty is freedom. And because honoring my body by caring about what I put into it has allowed me to honor my body is so many other ways. To quit smoking. To exercise regularly as a practice. To drink water and limit caffeine, and floss daily. And to like and love what I see in the mirror. Even with all of the flabby parts, and the parts with stretch marks, and wrinkles and spots. All of it. And that complete love started with me getting control of my eating, which was out of control for so much of my life. 
And I have to tell you that I don’t know a lot of people who have that. And I don’t think a lot of us exist in the world. Not even women who are thinner and younger and live in more socially acceptable bodies than I do. I think even most of them still don’t have the kind of deep-rooted peace around their bodies that my chubby, middle-aged self does. 
So keeping my eating boundaries may have started out being about losing weight and being thin, but it is not that anymore. Now it is about extreme self-love. Loving all of myself exactly as it is. And that is something I cannot recommend enough. 

Nothing to prove. Not even to myself.

Toward the end of last year, my husband and I found a leak in our closet from our bathroom. And because of it, I had to throw away the majority of my clothes due to a serious mold infestation. And now that we are going on a trip to Florida next month, I realized I needed a summer wardrobe. 

When I quit sugar 14 years ago, I did not lose all of the weight that I would at first. It definitely went in phases. But eventually I was quite skinny. And in those years of thin to really skinny, I bought a lot of clothes. I bought a lot of really cute, eclectic, crazy, fashionable, fun clothes. And I looked amazing all the time.

And when I quit smoking 7 and a half years ago, I gained 30+ pounds. And since then, my weight has fluctuated. Sometimes I have been thin, sometimes not so much. And in that time I bought a lot of clothes. To fill in any gaps in my “skinny” wardrobe. 

At first not being skinny anymore was devastating. Now it’s just life. 

So a lot of my clothes didn’t fit the same way they did before. Some didn’t fit at all and got given away. Some fit better the more I filled them out. Some fit less well. But there were a lot of them. And they were stylish. And I enjoyed looking in my closet for something fun and funky to wear.

And then they were moldy.

But I have to admit there is something so freeing about getting rid of all of those old clothes. Because I am different. I bought so many of them when I was single. When I was a New York City girl. When I had different hobbies and different goals. And frankly, when I was more willing to be uncomfortable for beauty.

There were very few things it hurt me to throw away when we went through that moldy closet. (Though that Black House White Market long cardigan with the granny square cuffs and collar hurt like a bitch to get rid of.) Because they were for a woman with a different shaped body, and a different shaped life. 

It was nice to be able to make new choices and choose different styles in this past month or so. I am less likely to want my skirts particularly short or my heels particularly high. I am leaning toward more classic styles with a funky twist, as opposed to really funky stuff. (Though, to my husband’s dismay, I still love all things strapless. He calls them tube tops and they are not his favorite. But I have a really spectacular neck and shoulders. And luckily, he doesn’t have to wear them.)

But I guess this is the point for me. When those clothes were in my closet, I felt in some ways like I had to live up to them. They were purchased because I could fit into whatever style I wanted. I could be wild and daring and not be given the side eye or be shamed, as happened a lot to me when I was fat. I am not saying I wore clothes I didn’t love. I loved them! They excited me. I felt beautiful and gorgeous and stylish in them. But they were also a point I had to prove and a statement I had to make. 

Now, I have a different statement I want to make. That my 42 and a half year-old body is totally perfect. It’s beautiful and healthy and I can dress it however I want. And I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Not even myself.

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