Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Toxic Relationship

What's your relationship with food? Why do you eat? Nutrition? Comfort? Because you have to? Because you like to cook? To celebrate? Stress?

I wish I could say that I eat for nutrition purposes only. But if I'm frank with myself, that really isn't the case.

Much of the research I've read shows that you gain your attitude toward food early in life. My mother didn't finish college (she wanted to be a nurse incidentally,) because she married my father. Academics wasn't ever her strong suit, she has to work hard at things like that. But the woman had some serious common sense, and as they say, common sense isn't so common. To this day I'm still discovering things that she knew instinctively that have been now confirmed by scientific research. MSG? The anti-christ in our house. The same with aspartame. High fructose corn syrup? The devil. (And yes, even despite the latest high dollar ad campaign, high fructose corn syrup is still bad.) My mom restricted our red meat intake, used real butter instead of margarine, limited our empty calorie intake, forced whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fast food was a twice a year treat.

We had a huge vegetable garden and an orchard out back. No pesticides, no fertilizers. My mom was the queen of canning too. She'd can fruit's and vegetables all summer long. At the end of the summer in our 8' by 10' pantry in the basement, the shelves would be full of quart jars, floor to ceiling. Not to mention the freezer.

Growing up on a farm, my activity level was naturally high. There were always chores to be done. My summer days were spent tossing hay bales and shovel irrigating. Not to mention 600 acres for a boy to stretch his legs...

For all intents and purposes, my food and exercise backgrounds have a fine pedigree.

For the most part our family's diet is the same. We're vegetarian except for eggs, a little cheese, and some fish once a week. My youngest has never tasted meat other than fish. I buy organic, use whole grains, make things from scratch whenever I can. We don't eat artificial sweeteners, MSG, or high fructose corn syrup. A vegetable and salad is served with every meal. Seconds start with more salad, then more main dish if still hungry. We only drink water.


There are days like yesterday. I set myself up for disaster. I rushed out of the house without eating breakfast. Or lunch. By the time I was done with class, I was literally shaking from hunger. And then all the stress of everything that's going on right now hit me--baby, $250,000 in student loans, nursing school, finals, marriage, money... When I stopped off at McDonald's, it was for a quick snack. I came away with 3 double quarter pounders with cheese, a large fry, and a large Sprite. And I wolfed down every bit of it, I don't think I could have stopped myself if I'd even tried. Based on the McDonald's nutrition info on their website, that's 3030 calories. And more than 150 grams of fat.

I have dreams about food occasionally too. It usually takes place in a public setting, with a buffet style food setup. Usually I find myself filling my plate, but eating as fast as I can at the same time because I'm afraid I won't get enough if I wait to eat what I've got on my plate and then come back...

I'm as much as 80 pounds overweight, depending on which chart you read. I don't look it, at least not that bad. Now, I do have a large frame, broad shoulders etc, so my 'ideal' weight for my height I could never reach--my summers spent working for the USFS I humped a 50lb pack at 10,000ft and above for 4 months, and was still 10 pounds over my ideal weight with ribs standing out.

The psychological aspect of this really scares me. I hate not being in control. I'm really not sure how to go about addressing this problem. I mean 98% of the time I'm a normal functioning adult, with no issues.

But that 2% of the time, I can't control myself, and totally binge. My biggest fear is that behavior will spread to other aspects of my life.


  1. In answer to your first question: all the above.

    Everything in moderation my friend, is how I like to think I eat. Ha!

    Of course, being female doesn't help me-hormones. One of the best things that people can do is keep food diaries, even if you don't measure to the gram, just writing down what you consume everyday gives you a clear picture of your dietary habits.

    I would say from what you've put out there you're doing far better than many of us. As a human being you will bend to temptation or problems in scheduling, blah, blah, blah.

  2. well God bless you for getting "it" out there, being honest with it. I have struggled with my weight ever since adolescence. I think you are on your way to change right now. My changes have been slow and gradual, but on the most part, permanent. Since last semester I have lost about 25-30 lbs. Most of that from prayer. I know a big help to me is being busy, so as you know, I have too much time on my hands right now, which is frightening to me. I agree with Kristen. Have what you love, but in smaller amounts. And up your activity (which is dang hard as a student!) Have friends hold you accountable, notice I said friends, not those who will "shame" you when you mess up. You can do it! Look at your level of commitment you've put into your schooling. You can transfer some of that perseverence into your eating.
    God bless you.

  3. It sounds like you have more of a handle on your eating than the average person. Everyone needs a little "no guilt" day. Consider it a way to equal out all the evil of the world!

    Dont be so hard on yourself!

    Hows your wife doing?

  4. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

    Tiffany: She's doing great. Still pregnant, she's such a trooper.

  5. my relationship with food is a long boring post on its own, so i won't bore you and your readers.

    let me just say that i think a dysfunctional relationship with food (like i have) is EXTREMELY hard to live with. that is still an understatement.

  6. I'm surprised your GI system didn't rebel when you at all of that McDonald's food.