They say food is fuel. That’s not the case for me.
Food is my fuel in the way your boyfriend is ‘transportation’. Sure he drops you off at work…but does that make him a bus?
No. He’s a person.
A person you’re having a relationship with.
I mean…sometimes he’s “transportation”. But when you break up, do you list him on auto trader? Probably not. Because he isn’t a car. He’s a relationship.
And my relationship is with food.
Have you ever broken up with someone only to get back together? I’ve done that a thousand times.
The first time I lost a large amount of weight was around 1991 when I lost 50 pounds on Jenny Craig. I gained it all back plus some. So I lost 75 pounds by starving myself and overexercising. I was in my early 20’s. Seemed like a good idea at the time! Until I gained it all back. I did variations of this for years on and off different diets and medications until I had finally gotten over 300 pounds. And then I read a book about sugar. It was the first time I connected the dots on that issue. The first time I got a sign that something else other than a psychological episode was happening to make me overeat. After learning the basics of sugar addiction, I lost 108 pounds. I was cured! That was in 2003.
And by 2011, I had gained it all back and then doubled it.
Double or nothing! LET’S GO!
You know what happened then. Because then I met YOU. And I set out once again to lose it all.
I lost 250 pounds and here we are again. It’s 2017 and I’ve gained over 100 pounds back.
My greatest fear is going for double or nothing again. Pretty sure the stakes keep getting higher.
Do you remember who you were dating (or married to) in 1997? Who your best friend was? Where you lived? You could probably recall that without too much trouble. But do you remember what you were eating in 1997? Like..do you remember specific days that you went shopping for food? Because ‘normal’ people generally remember specific days for a reason. Something that stands out. Something memorable. I can’t remember a lot of things from 1997 but I can literally recall specific days of food shopping. Where I was. What I bought. And that day is memorable to me for no other reason than the food. Nothing happened. I don’t remember it because I was caught in a thunderstorm on the way to the store. Or because something earth shattering happened in the snack aisle. Nope. I just remember it the way some people remember a day you spent with an old friend from long ago.
And it’s lodged there in the recesses of my mind. Taking up space. Renting real estate. So that I can’t remember where my keys are right now because too many files are used up with things like that. Seemingly useless memories of the year I got obsessed with eating cake icing out of the can.
Can you timestamp your life by what your primary food obsession was THAT year? Because my oldest daughter turns 21 this month and I remember setting up the baby pool for her in the backyard the summer she was one. I had a great beach bag I bought at the dollar tree for all her pool toys. We lived on the military base at the time and so our backyard was like a community area. I loved that bag but not so much because it held all her toys. It held moon pies too. A secret obsession I had that summer. I was in a graham cracker phase that year. Nothing compared to the ginger snap obsession I got into half a decade ago but memorable all the same. I would pack moon pies in between the toys to eat while we were outside. It’s kind of hard to eat moon pies on the sly but I made it work.
My years aren’t just categorized by “high school” or “college”. Like that was the year I was hanging out with Amy and Kelli. Or that was the year Amanda and I were in summer school.
No– in my mind, years are also remembered by the food I was “hanging out with” that year. That I can recall much more easily.
Some people don’t remember what they were eating in 1997. Some people actually remember their neighbors. But I remember the bakery thrift shop right around the corner from my house. Money was tight back then as a young married couple with a new baby but at the bakery thrift shop Hostess could once again be mine!! What would I do without it?
In 5th grade, I discovered a little shop buried in a nearby neighborhood. I’d ask my parents if I could ride my bike.
Holly actually wants to go OUTSIDE voluntarily??!! And do something physically active??
Don’t question it! Just go with it! And off I went to the little shop I had discovered several blocks over. There I could buy snacks and eat them in peace before heading home. All under the guise of a bike ride. Much of my 5th grade year is memorable due to discovering that shop. I have a lot of childhood memories of sneaking off there. I planned it. I anticipated it. Whenever I had money, off I went!
One year in high school I decided to join the crew team. (Long story but I actually survived!) Other than the unbelievably insane amount of running and working out that I had to do that season (because you know I quit after that), all I recall is the bakery a block over where I would get two blueberry muffins and a coke on my way home. It was all I looked forward to during practice.
Swiss cake rolls were my rebound. They were my next relationship after my husband. I used to keep them under my pillow when he left. And for years I lived that way. Boxes upon boxes stashed within an arms reach. Bought like a necessity.
Never run out of toilet paper.
Never run out of swiss cake rolls.
I remember the joy of a new box. The comfort that it brought me when it was filled to the brim. How it felt to unwrap them. The way the chocolate on each swiss cake roll seemed to chip off piece by piece. Would I eat it bite by bite? Or unroll it to make it last longer? And coupled with ice cold milk. Not much to this day compares.
Most of you don’t look back on your food memories like that. Your romance was with people. Not food. You were sneaking your boyfriend in through the window. I was sneaking in food.
We both were in relationships. Mine was just the silent type 😉
When I look back, I don’t ONLY recall the misery. I don’t only recall the shame and the pain.
The inner beatings of my heart sing for chocolate. Reminiscent of a song I once heard when my mother took me to see Cats on Broadway.
Food was much more to me than something physical. It wasn’t an object. It was the best friend I’ve ever had.
If Facebook posted an update on how long we—- food and I– had been friends….it would be too long to count . One of my earliest memories is sneaking into the pantry. Maybe I was 4 years old. Our friendship story would have too many pictures to choose from. Our memories too many for one album.
Intellectually and rationally, I know that food is an inanimate object. I know food does not have a heart.
How could it—for what it’s done to my life?
But I’m still pulled in by the memories. Memories of what we’ve walked through in this life together. Because like it or not, food has literally been with me through more trials and tribulations than any single individual in this world.
It’s not JUST that I am tricked by cravings. Because having been off of sugar for an entire year or more at a time, that part is no longer in play. It’s the memories that come for me. The memories that tell the story.
Sugar has been there for me when no one else was. Always giving me hope and comfort when I needed it.
I survived my divorce with peanut M and M’s.
I’m actually not entirely sure what I would have done if not for them.
You can only stay locked in the bathroom crying on the bathroom floor for so long when you have babies. The floor is cold. Reality is harsh. But food can be whatever temperature and texture you want. And it’s always there.
Depression and anxiety are horrible masters of your soul. The thought and promise of food has always been in many ways what kept me going. It’s like asking me to give up the one and only thing I have had in my life that I know WILL help without delay. Of course it’s miserable to live trapped in obesity. But sometimes it feels more miserable without it.
Maybe that’s why I always go back.
I wouldn’t walk up to you and tell you how to fix your marriage. If I do—run. I’m divorced for a reason!
But I don’t know anything about your relationship. If you’ve been married for 30 years there is a background there that I can never understand. So I can’t tell you how to fix a relationship when I don’t know the history.
But I have a history too. A history with the most significant “person” in my life.
Only my person is not a person.
My person is food.
Do you ever watch Grey’s Anatomy? If you have, you already know.
Yes, food is MY person. And that’s why quitting sugar in and of itself is not the cure. I’m not just eating food because it’s sweet. Because it gets in my system and causes cravings. It’s more than that.
Food is quite simply the most significant long term relationship that I’ve ever had.
When my parents got divorced, I ate vanilla fudge swirl ice cream every day. When my first boyfriend broke up with me, I added reeses pieces to the ice cream which made our relationship even stronger. When my husband left me, I was terrified. I was alone. I had no family or friends for thousands of miles. I felt like killing myself but I couldn’t. I wanted to live. I just didn’t know how to survive on my own.
With food–I never was on my own. Never alone.
It’s led me through the darkest times of my life. Held my hand and been my trusted friend. It was still with with me long after my husband left. It outlived my mother. It even outlasted my longest friendship.
Because sometimes husbands leave. Sometimes mothers die. And friends decide not to be friends anymore.
But food never leaves. Never dies. And there is nothing that you could ever say or do to make it walk away.
Someone who has lived decades of their life with food by their side—is not just going on a diet.
They’re going through a divorce.
And until I can wipe those memories or reframe them, I really may never stop going back.
God is the One who can provide all this and more. He is the One in reality who never leaves. His love is everlasting. His love never fails. But in our human nature, we still look for something on this earth to walk through life together with us. For some of us that’s what food has become.
Not everyone out there is having a relationship with food. Some people are actually just using it for fuel like they’re supposed to!
But a few of us are married to it. For some of us, food IS our best friend.
Untangling THAT MESS is more complicated than you could ever imagine.
Because when food is your person….you MISS your person. You miss it like you miss your best friend. That shoulder to cry on. Your partner in crime. Your calm in the chaos.
They say food isn’t love. But sometimes I’m not sure.
If it’s not-then it’s pretty damn close.