For the Love of Food

July 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

When I started trying to lose this weight,  I felt like every second that went by was torture in many ways.  I was so used to every second of my day revolving around food.  Even when I wasn’t eating, I was thinking about what I was GOING to eat in the future.  It was always about what I had eaten, what I was going to eat next and where I would get it.  Did I have to drive somewhere?  When would I go?  How much longer did I have to wait to eat again?!!

HOW MUCH LONGER?!?!!!

Tick…tick…tick…..

Please can I time travel to 2 hours in the future?  I NEED MY FOOD!

When I had weight loss surgery, things came to a screeching halt.  Suddenly food was not going to be the focus of my life.

Let me rephrase that.

In many ways, it still would be the focus.  It was just the focus of a break-up.

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone for a long time?  So long that it’s just a given that the person is always going to be there.  In many ways, you reach a comfortable level.  You aren’t thinking about that person obsessively every second of the day like you did perhaps in the beginning when you first fell in love.  Now you’re used to them.  You KNOW them.  You see them without the glamor or facade.  The good, bad and the ugly.   You probably even take it for granted that when you wake up…there they’ll be.  But it’s good.  It’s comfortable.  You know they’re there.  Whenever you want to talk to them–you call.  Whenever you want to see them–you do.  Now it’s just an every day part of life.

 But then you break up.

Suddenly they aren’t so accessible anymore.  Suddenly you can’t just pick up the phone and call.  You have to force yourself NOT to call. You have to force yourself NOT to think about them.  Don’t pick up that phone!  Don’t drive by their house! Don’t stalk them on Facebook!!

Do an experiment. Tell yourself NOT to think about the color green.  Bet you can’t!

GREEN! GREEN! GREEN!!

MAKE IT STOP!!

This is what happens when you attempt to NOT think about something or someone.  The brain does the opposite!

Pretty soon all you EVER do is think about them!  And not only that–your thoughts become totally delusional!!

Suddenly that person who annoyed you by leaving their socks on the floor is now someone you find perfect in every way .  That guy who left toothpaste and shaving cream in the sink and refused to ever throw soda cans in the trash—-AN ANGEL.  In fact, why did I care if he snored or left dirty underwear crammed between the sink and the wall?? In fact, I don’t think he ever did that in the first place.  How could he??

HE’S PERFECT!!!!!!

All bad memories?? DELETED

All good memories?? Rewritten to be even BETTER!

Now you almost can’t think of one thing that was ever wrong with them!! By virtue of their very absence, they are now on a pedestal and better than ever.

Often this is the case when we boot someone or something out of our life.  Absence doesn’t just make the heart grow fonder.  Sometimes it tricks the heart into rewriting history.  Suddenly the relationship wasn’t so bad.  Maybe it was perfect.  What have I done??  How will I live without them??

Now switch all of this out for food and you have my life.  LITERALLY.  That is the ridiculous cycle I go through with food.

For years, I ate Big Macs on an almost daily basis.  I ate them so often that I actually got to the point where I could barely taste them at all.  I got so adjusted to eating them that I could have been swallowing almost anything.

But then I could no longer have one.

Suddenly I could remember every ingredient in intricate detail.  And my memory told me that Big Macs were the most perfect hamburger that had ever been created.  Like supernaturally AMAZING.  And I wanted one….NOW.  I wanted a Big Mac so badly that I literally cried.  I mean ACTUAL TEARS. I’m not talking your regular, average, every day crying.  I’m talking on the ground, fist slamming, body shaking DESPAIR.

Yes…I cried for a Big Mac as if it was a MAN.  A man I had loved desperately and couldn’t live without.  Why had I taken him for granted? Why had I downed him in 4 bites instead of savoring each one?  How could I have ever skipped even one day of Big Mac and his special sauce when now it was gone forever?

I have felt the same way about ice cream, donuts, pizza and cupcakes.   I can honestly tell you that food, for me, is almost personified to the point of being a real, live being with a beating heart.  An entity that brings with it all the facets of a real relationship.  Comfort, warmth, pain and misery.  All rolled up into one destructive relationship!!

Some people don’t get it.  They’ll tell you they do.  But they don’t.

That’s why I often wonder if others out there have ever loved food in the way that I have.  I wonder if they’ve used food to the degree that I have to cope with every aspect of life.

Do you know that a large majority of my memories involve what I was eating at the time?  One time I broke up with this guy in college after 2 years of dating.  I remember going on long walks to the fountain in the center of campus thinking about him.  But do you know why I was walking to the fountain? To pick up the pizza that was being delivered.  That is where they delivered pizzas at my college.  Not to your dorm room.  To the fountain at the front of campus.  Yes I remember long walks in the dead of night reminiscing about him.  But I wasn’t really going on a walk.  I was going to get my pizza.  And I did that almost every single night for at least 2 weeks.  To the point that the delivery guy started to say “See you tomorrow”.    So what I remember about our break up is pizza.  Because that’s what filled my days and my nights in the aftermath.  My rebound guy….

Mr. PAN PIZZA

I dated this guy in high school for a short time.  But it was the first guy I ever really liked.  I mean….crazy liked.  He wore this bright purple skinny tie and had a mullet.  (Hello 80s!) Yep…that’s HOT! One night we rented the movie “Coming to America” with Eddie Murphy.  You know…a new release! We rented it at Erol’s Video store and played it in a Betamax video tape player.   I mean this guy was like moving with the times.  He had a VCR! I didn’t have one of those.  He even had CABLE.  WOO!  And that’s when I was introduced to MTV…you know back when there was only one MTV channel and it actually played music videos.

But this is where he took it to the next level.  When he took me to a place I had never been.  There we sat on that overstuffed couch in his parents basement as he held my hand and recited  every line to the LL Cool J song “I need LOVE”.

Romance sheer delight how sweet
I gotta find me a girl to make my life complete
You can scratch my back, we’ll get cozy and huddle
I’ll lay down my jacket so you can walk over a puddle


Yep…that’s LOVE right there!!

Anyway, I was totally enamored with this guy.  And I was clearly special because he gave me his sweatshirt.   I kept it under my pillow and refused to wash it because it smelled like his cologne.  Drakkar Noir.  I still remember that.  I smelled it until I smelled the smell right out of it.  The  scent of that cologne lasted longer than our extremely short lived relationship.  He broke up with me a few weeks later out of the blue by telling me his mom wanted him to vacuum the house on Saturdays so he didn’t have time for me anymore.

Seriously…that’s what he said.

VACUUM

But do you know what I remember the MOST about that break up?  I’ll tell you.  It was the first time I had ever put Reeses Pieces on ice cream.  I mean–come on–it was my first dramatic break up.  And he had recited every line of an LL Cool J song to me, ok? That’s serious!

So a regular bowl of ice cream wasn’t going to do the trick.  I had to branch out.  And that’s what I did.  Reeses Pieces, baby.   And that’s what I remember the most about him.  The overwhelming scent of his cologne and Reeses Pieces being TOTALLY EFFECTIVE in making me forget he ever existed!

When I had my first baby and became a stay at home mother—I went through a dramatic change.  Instead of being in college or working, I was at home all day.  How would I fill my time when the baby was napping?  Enter the Hostess Bakery Thrift Shop.  At the time we were so poor we could barely afford any luxury.  For someone like me, this spelled disaster.   Because let’s face it…when I just said ‘how will I fill my time’….we all know that was a question that I didn’t need to ask.  Eating of course! And I needed money to buy my food.  The bakery thrift shop was my answered prayer.  The price was right! Because let’s get real…. how else would I want to fill private alone time? For someone like me (who has a secret love affair with food)  PRIVACY is KEY.

Privacy is everything.

You don’t want people…especially your husband….to know how deep the love goes.

Because trust me…it goes DEEP.  You might think some wives are laying awake next to their sleeping husband in the middle of the night fantasizing about Brad Pitt.  But not me.  I was fantasizing about hot fudge dripping down a mountain of cookies and cream….MMMMMM

I couldn’t wait to get to that Hostess Bakery Thrift shop.  It had long tables filled with all kinds of Hostess products marked to half price.  That was the first time I discovered Hostess 3 pack donuts.  One row of cinnamon . One row of powdered. One row of cake.

COME HOME TO MAMA!

I would load up on those boxes and hide them in the house.  When my husband was at work and my daughter was asleep in the crib, it was all about Hostess and me.  But which one to choose first?? Where should I start?? Usually–cake.  Because it was plain.  I didn’t want to have all that fun at once.  I would go in easy.  Work my way into it.  But each sweet bite was warmth to my soul.  Scooping up each powdered piece of sugar that landed in the bottom of the box.  Making sure I didn’t miss one sweet bite.  It was my afternoon love affair.  My secret romance.  And I was careful to make sure we would never be discovered.

Only it became obvious.  Because when your secret lover is food—it reveals itself in time.

On your hips.  Your stomach.  Your thighs.

Yep–can’t keep THAT on the down low for long.

It’s funny to me because I can think of at least 4 people in my life who have said this to me…

“I don’t get how you’re overweight? I mean, I am around you all the time.  I’ve seen you eat.  You don’t eat that much!”

The same could be true of anyone whose affair has been discovered

” I don’t get how this happened! I mean I’m around you all the time.  When did you see each other? Where would you meet? I don’t get it!”

That’s why every illicit affair is a shock.  It’s not meant to be seen.  It’s not meant to be discovered.

If you had a secret lover named Juan with piercing brown eyes and the smoldering look of a soap star…..people would get it.

But if his name is Pizza or Donuts….

NOT SO MUCH

And yet that is the story of my life, friends

THE STORY OF MY LIFE

I’ve written all this to say the following:

Breaking up is hard to do 

We tend to sympathize with people who are breaking up with PEOPLE

If you get divorced…they have workshops for that.  Counseling groups.  SONGS

But if you break up with a donut—where’s THAT song? Where’s THAT poem?

I’ve broken up with some men that were not NEARLY as memorable as when I had to walk away from a Snickers bar

Now Snickers bars—I cried violently over that.

Creamy caramel

Crammed with Peanuts

Chewy, gooey, delicious

I’ve dated men not half as interesting as that!

Breaking up with a Snickers bar? Now THAT I could write tearful poetry over!!

Breaking up with food is HARD people.  It just IS.  And for some of us, it’s just as sad and dramatic as the most heart wrenching love story you can imagine.

The good news is this—you can survive it.

I just need to remind myself of that.  I need to remind myself of that REPEATEDLY.  Because even now –I still struggle.  I still find myself walking through Target on a simple mission to buy my daughter a helmet for her bike and then it happens.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see him.  At first–it’s nothing. My brain doesn’t even register that it’s him.  It’s been so long, you know? But as we continue walking, I do it.  What I should NEVER do.

I LOOK BACK

And then I see him.  Sitting right there nestled between Twix and M and M’s.

Snickers…..My long lost love.

And you know what? He hadn’t even crossed my mind until I saw him.

So forget you, I scream inside my mind.

FORGET YOU!

I don’t sit up at night pining away for you anymore.  I don’t cry tears of misery.  I don’t dream of the past.

Only  now here you are.  And just the sight of you has brought back that twinge of regret.  That skip of my heartbeat at the days we would sneak off together in the car where no one would know.  That’s right.  We were down and dirty.  IN THE CAR.  Sometimes I’d find some tucked away place in a public park to devour my sweet love.  Just as long as no one knew.  The times I would drive to different gas stations to buy yet another King size bar so no one would know how many rounds we had gone.  Because we could go ALL NIGHT.  There was no end to our passion.

Mini snickers? PPPPFFFHHTTT!  I laugh at you!

I don’t want mini ANYTHING from my candy.   King size BABY!!  ALL THE WAY!

And now there you are staring back at me.  Waiting for me to acknowledge that I remember what we shared.

But I just keep walking.  So what if I looked back? I kept moving, didn’t I??.  One foot in front of the other.  And now you know.  The memories might still be there but I am NOT going back.

This is my life some days.  Crazy but true.  It’s the life of someone who has broken up with food.  Who has let go of one of the greatest loves of her life in the hope of being free.

No one said it would be easy.

It’s not.

But we do what we do for a reason.  Because real love doesn’t bring with it so much pain.  And if you eat enough of the wrong thing, it will lead to misery.

We don’t want misery.

We want freedom.

SO PRESS ON!! And know that not every day will be this hard.  Not every day will be torture.

Like any great love story—the more distance and time you place between you, the easier it will get.

You may still have the memories.  You may still carry some pain . And there will be days it is hard to convince yourself that you can truly live without it.

But at the end of the day, you know what you need.

And it’s not Diabetes.  It’s not a heart attack.

That isn’t love after all…is it?

So in the wise words of that band Nazareth….

Love Hurts

Love Scars

Love Wounds 

And Marks

And never have those words been so true than with the one who falls in love with food

Because that kind of love DOES scar.  That kind of love DOES leave marks.

Stretch marks….of which I have plenty

One for every snickers bar.  One for every Reeses.  Three for every Big Mac.

I’m striped like a tiger from the love I’ve given away to food.

So maybe it’s time we stop being so easy.  Stop falling for the lies so quickly.  After all, any sweet talker that gets us into bed and leaves us worse off than we started isn’t exactly the kind of love we need in our lives!

I won’t deny that food for me is still to this day the first thing I want to run to when I feel anxious, depressed or sad.  And maybe that is how it will always be.  After all, it is hard to forget your first love.

But I can also tell you that in time…it gets easier.  Especially when you fill your life with things that don’t let you down.  That don’t leave you with nothing more than the shame of empty wrappers all around you the morning after.

Maybe you’re like me and you need to break up with food.

Well, there may not be a song for it. There may not be poetry.  But there should be.

Because breaking up with food is one of the toughest relationships I have ever had to let go of.  And I say that to you as someone who has been through a devastating divorce and the death of loved ones.  Yet still can place my relationship with food as one of the most difficult ones to let go of.

So I get it.

Like you,  I’ve loved Hersheys. I’ve danced with cookies and slept with donuts.

I’ve cried over Big Mac

AND I WILL AGAIN

But I also know that while my weeping may last the night—joy comes in the morning!!

Especially when you look around and see that you survived.  

Because when you survive one second, one hour, one day—that’s when you’ll know.

You have what it takes.  You can do this.  Just give yourself a chance.  And give it time.

When you see him on that shelf or staring back at you from that sign on the highway……

Don’t hesitate. Don’t look back.  Keep moving forward.

Because now you know that you’re worth more than those lies.  And you deserve better.

So pursue it.  Pursue it with everything that is in you.  And if you have to cry…CRY.

Because this girl is.  Sometimes more than you think.  But that’s ok—that’s who I am.

That’s just part of what makes me ME

So if that’s who you are—you’re not alone.  Keep moving forward.

We’ll get there!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Aubrey July 11, 2014 at 6:39 pm

“I’m striped like a tiger from the love I’ve given away to food.”
Me too-
wow – blown away- once again
I read this whole thing fighting back tears- so beautifully done
You are such an inspiration – please don’t stop sharing – your work touches more people than you realize

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down July 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Thank you Aubrey!!!!
Holly from 300 Pounds Down recently posted..For the Love of FoodMy Profile

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Pam July 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I tried to read this blog Holly. But it was just too hard to read about all those now forbidden treats. You see, Holly, there are others of us out here just like you. I’m trying so hard NOT to binge right now while husband is out playing golf. Reading about donuts and Big Macs is just too tough. Sorry. I know I could relate to the point you were trying to make, but I just couldn’t see past all the food.

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down July 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

I soooo get you PAM!!!

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Lindsie July 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm

I couldn’t have said it better myself! I can’t tell you how many times I have looked around in shame because of the empty wrappers from my last “secret” binge. Definitely the most painful love affair of my life! People who have never been addicted to food can’t possibly understand. It is a necessity to live, and with each bite of a tasty food you are left wanting more. Glad I am not the only one that’s cried tears over food.

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Cathy July 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm

EXCELLENT!
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Sally July 11, 2014 at 11:09 pm

What a chord you struck! It is hard to believe that someone else has experienced the EXACT same thing I know all too well. Once again you have hit the proverbial nail on the head with your post. Thanks for writing for those of us who GET IT! Please don’t stop.

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Joy July 12, 2014 at 2:27 am

Wow!! It’s like you wrote what I hAve been thinking for years. I couldn not have said it any better. After having a binge today I realize I can no longer eat the things I love in moderation. I was just fooling myself and it shows on the scale. I am breaking up with ice cream, chips and anything that makes me binge starting now. Thanks Holly for another great post. We can do this!

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Karen P July 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Here’s to getting past the food thoughts and getting un-hooked. Abstaining from grains and processed sugars helped me get to a place where I don’t think about food all the time.

Here’s to getting to that place. It frees your mind for other things. Keep going, Holly.
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Kathy July 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Oh my gosh, the memories of vacuum man cracked me up. I knew guys like that, too. Why were our hearts so broken over that? I appreciated what you wrote about the breakup with food being such a big one but that we can heal. I’m going to be having gb surgery in a month or two and I’m already dealing with those feelings. How different will life be afterwards? I’m sure there’s going to be a period of recovery, not only physically but emotionally as well.

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Lyn July 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm

I so feel this way about every food I choose to give up for my health. Sometimes I really mourn it like a person. Like when I realized there are not going to be anymore donuts in my future, it actually emotionally hurt. Thankfully it is FAR easier to get over that hurt than it is over a relationship hurt. I might long for donuts on occasion but the pain is gone. It was just super intense while it lasted.

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Nicola July 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

What a fantastic post Holly, and SO VERY TRUE!!!! Snickers and I have a relationship that goes way back too. Those bars were always there for me when the people who were meant to be weren’t.

When everything was going south in a big way, I could always count on chocolate. Or chips. Or bread. Or biscuits. Or pizza. But you know what? The junk food that I thought was my friend turned out to be my enemy, like finding a razor blade in your cotton candy.

It’s taken me a REALLY long time to realise that I deserve more, not so much from the food but from myself. I am more valuable than junk food, classier than stolen moments spent stuffing my face in the car or in my bedroom in the dead of night. I’m worth having an AMAZING relationship with. And that relationship starts with loving myself.

I’ve recently gone back to the food plan that worked so well for me at the beginning of my weight loss journey (three small meals a day and cutting out sugar and bread, which are and have always been my Achilles’ heel) and it’s working well for me so far.

Just like you I’ve also started exercising again. That has been a great confidence and mood booster, given that it’s currently the middle of winter in Australia and it’s very hard to get out of bed in the morning when it’s dark and cold and rainy, but I’ve never, ever regretted making the effort to exercise!

Thinking of you and sending positive thoughts, breaking up with food is always the hardest part. When the ghosts of Snickers past come back to haunt you, remember how far you’ve come and don’t give in to their shallow seduction routine.

You’re worth SO much more than that.

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Lynne July 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

So well said Holly. The story is the same for me except I haven’t quite mastered the ‘break up’ yet 🙁 All of those ‘stolen moments’ are so damaging – physically and emotionally! I feel like such a failure every time I binge/eat in secret, etc….but I still do it. I never acknowledge those feelings until AFTER! It’s a terrible cycle and it’s exactly like any other addiction – drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, affairs, etc. I’m so sick of it.

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Kim July 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for that, Holly!! The humor in the awful, painful truth is what gets us through. How you were able to make the comparisons with such vivid imagery was amazing!! This entry will def be one of those that I read over and over.

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Living 400lbs July 19, 2014 at 12:30 am

Last summer I read Rachel Held Evans’ book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. The chapter on Justice began with:

“Switch to fair trade products, especially with coffee and chocolate (Isaiah 58:9-12, Malachi 3:5, James 5:4-5)”

Wham.

I am not perfect; I am not willing to separate entirely from the system that exploits workers (for one thing, it’s not practical for me to weave or knit all my own clothing). But chocolate and coffee are luxuries. I began buying fair trade chocolate & coffee after reading that chapter. (We also now are eating more humanely raised beef & chicken.)

And I’m reminded of this because I used to get Snickers from the vending machine at work once or twice a week, along with Hershey’s and peanut M&Ms. I’d also have the mini versions at home in the candy bowl. Now? I don’t. Candy bowl has mints. I still eat chocolate – but less of it, and it’s fair trade.

I don’t mourn it, though. I am sometimes unhappy with the inconvenience of not being able to get a Theo bar from the vending machine or to buy a “fun size” bag instead of getting the expensive fair trade stuff that isn’t everywhere.

Some people don’t get it. They’ll tell you they do. But they don’t.

All of this is to say: I admit I don’t get it. I get how being hungry is frustrating and stressful; I get how radically changing what you eat can change mood swings; I get how tracking what I eat can make me eat more out of rebellion. But I don’t get this, and that is OK!
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Jae July 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Holly, I mentioned you in today’s post 🙂 Thank you for your vulnerability, transparency, and honesty. http://www.founditatthemarathon.blogspot.com
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Susan July 21, 2014 at 1:41 am

Holly

I am a week and a half away from my weight loss surgery and I want to thank you for this post–I am on a liquid diet right now and your post sure hit home with me. I have been reading your posts for the past six months and love every one of your posts. Thank you so much!

Susan

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Anneli July 22, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Thanks Holly! It’s such a relief to get confirmation that this is HARD!! I’ve spent my whole life listening to voices that tell me how easy it’s going to be to lose weight and it ISN’T–and then I feel ridiculous that this “simple” thing is so incredibly hard for me. If feels so good to read from someone who knows, that the reason I have difficulty, is because this is DIFFICULT!! If it were easy, I would have dropped the weight 40 years ago.
God Bless!
Anneli
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