The Truth About Food & Eating – Part I

Telling the truth about food and eating is embarrassing. It’s personal. As though I’m about to talk about masturbation and not in an objective third-person way. It’s something we all do but who really wants to discuss it with anyone other than maybe a lover or best friend? And let’s be honest, it’s completely self-involved. But my objective for this blog is if nothing else, to be truthful, particularly about feelings of shame. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

I keep believing I’ll eventually become a normal eater. According to the R. Kendall Dictionary, Normal Eaters eat only when they’re hungry and stop when they’re satisfied. They instinctively choose foods that nourish their bodies and an “occasional” treat means indulging a few times per year, not per week or day. Yet time and time again personal research has proven my inability to master this skill.

Eating guru, Geneen Roth famously says, “For each diet there is an equal and opposite binge.” That has certainly been my experience.

I thought science and knowledge could be the key. Once I understood the evolutionary reasons we’re attracted to sugar, fat, and salt as Michael Pollan has written at length about, I’d be good to go. What is it he advises? “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Easy-peasy. HA!

Or maybe it’s simple math. Only put in what you need and the weight loss will take care of itself – as so many weight loss programs espouse. Three meals, no snacks. Got it. LOL.

Perhaps the key is my childhood and years of feeling unloved, unheard, and unseen though I was healthy and well cared for. Yep – twenty-seven years of on-and-off therapy. Check. (No really, lots and lots of expensive checks.)

It must be my family’s history of addiction. My compulsion was predetermined before birth. I just need to surrender and accept that I’m eating disordered. But I have and I do, except when I think I can learn to become a Normal Eater. (See paragraph two.)

I’ve starved, binged, restricted. Over-exercised and been completely sedentary. Taken over-the counter and under-the-counter weight loss drugs. I’ve Weight-Watchered, Nutrisystemed, Jenny Craiged. Low-fatted, No-fatted. Cabbage Dieted, South Beached, Scarsdaled. I even Ate Right for My Blood-Type. I’ve gone vegetarian, vegan, and paleo. I’ve no-carbed, no-sugared, no-proteined, no-glutened. I’ve twelve-stepped.

I have experienced varying measures of success along with the inevitable reset to a weight heavier than before. Look Mom, I’m a statistic!

It’s been five years since I’ve been able to follow a Food Plan that promoted sanity and was beginning to restore good health. Then something happened, it could have been anything, let’s say I had a hangnail. Ever since, I’ve been back in the food.

Though my weight steadily increased, my annual blood work returned numbers in the range of normal. Until two years ago when those numbers began creeping into the warning zone for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-diabetes adding more pressure to take care of myself.

I wanted to. Why couldn’t I? Why can’t so many of us?

After exhausting all options, a year ago my physician urged me to begin the six-month prep process for bariatric surgery which included insurance pre-approval, attending a two-hour general information seminar, being accepted into a program, choosing the right surgical option, psychological evaluation, and selecting a surgeon. I did it all and was ready to go. Except I couldn’t.

Instead I gained five more pounds and despaired that anything would ever work. I began to see myself as a 700-pound woman trapped in bed. Was that my destiny? Was there no way out? Was death the best option? It was beginning to seem so.

Which leads me to this well-known definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. The first thing I have to do is accept that I will never be a Normal Eater. EVER.

I don’t know what changed, and I don’t want to question it, but seven weeks ago the invisible switch in my head flipped and I’ve been adhering to a prescribed Food Plan geared toward weight loss.

The R. Kendall Dictionary defines Food Plan as: “any imposed structure around objectives regarding the choice and volume of food consumed.” I used to call those parameters, “Diets” but for me that word implies a temporary unsustainable change in eating, and my fervent desire is to make a long-term permanent change.

I am very slowly losing weight and today have lost enough to start feeling the difference. I don’t believe it’s visible to the eye yet so it’s still a private experience. Once visible, it will become public and that scares the crap out of me.

If I’m being totally honest, the whole thing is scaring the crap out of me. I want to feel relieved. I want to enjoy it. I want to feel hopeful and excited. But I’ve been down this road SO many times before. Am I just setting myself up for another crash? Binge. Failure? More weight? Is it even possible for someone like me to stick to a healthy plan of eating long-term?

I cling to the name of this blog for hope.


For the record, I adore Geneen Roth and Michael Pollan. Click on the links to learn more about them.

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