Would A Donut By Any Other Name Taste As Sweet?
I have spent a good portion of my life "Counting Calories". I didn't know when I developed Anorexia that it would come with a degree in Nutrition. In fact I think that I should have gotten some sort of Honorary diploma for that. When you become obsessed with what you put and don't put in your mouth you take it seriously. I could look at anything from a tablespoon of Peanut Butter to a Bean Sprout and tell you how many...
I have spent a good portion of my life “Counting Calories”. I didn’t know when I developed Anorexia that it would come with a degree in Nutrition. In fact I think that I should have gotten some sort of Honorary diploma for that. When you become obsessed with what you put and don’t put in your mouth you take it seriously. I could look at anything from a tablespoon of Peanut Butter to a Bean Sprout and tell you how many calories it has, how many grams of fat, the fiber, the sodium and exactly how it will be digested. I used to eat up Nutritional information instead of food back in the day, in fact I actually got stuffed myself reading up on food groups and food items. Instead of shopping for shoes, I used to shop for calorie books. I also had a library sized room full of cookbooks, and instead of reading Vogue and Cosmo like I do now, I used to read the Pampered Chef, and Gourmet Magazine.
I would also obsess over the cooking channel. Bobby Flay and Rachel Ray became my new best friends and I would spend hours upon hours eating through my Television set. It was like my “food porn”, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I seriously used to get excited over the mere sight of them chopping, and dicing, sauteing, and simmering. I loved to watch other people eat too, and I would tabulate the calories they were eating in my head, thinking to myself, that if they only knew what I knew they wouldn’t be eating it, but I was secretly glad they did not, because it made me feel important.. During the day I would spend hours in the grocery store, reading labels. It was my library, I would flip item after item over,absorbing the information like a sponge. I was addicted to anything and everything that said “Nutrition Facts”. I would then go home and cook elaborate meals, a common habit among Anorexics, but I would never eat one bite of the lasagnas, cookies, or chocolate Souffles I spent hours making. I was like Rain Man, but instead of counting cards, I was counting the the noodles in your Linguine Florentine.
It’s taken me a long long time through my recovery to really look at food as “fruit”, or a “vegetable”, or a “meal” instead of a calorie, a cup, a potential bowel movement, or 2 hours worth of jogging.
I kind of had to just stop doing it, and even though the information is still in my head, I have learned to ignore what I know, and pay attention to what I want instead. It’s kind of like that algebra I took in highschool, I studied it, but I completely forgot it all, and just like I thought have never used it since. I try to look at food these days as nutrition instead of numbers. When I look at a banana for instance I see the word “Potassium”, when I see milk or yogurt I think “Calcium for my bones”, when I see Salmon I think “Omega 3 for my hair and nails”.
But how might you ask do I react when I see things like a “Donut” or a “Slice of Pizza”?? Well contrary to what you might think my head doesn’t spin round and round, while I start to spew “Pea Soup”. Nope… I don’t see fat thighs, or a big ass either. and believe me that’s just the start of the dirty names I gave my fear foods. Now I have totally made friends with all of them..and nowadays, I see the word “Opportunity”, ya that’s right.. Oppor”friggin”tunity??…Say what??
Let me explain:
For most of my childhood I was told that food was either “good” or “bad”. I from a very early age had already without even knowing what a calorie was knew that I would get “praised” for eating, or “Scolded”. It was very Catholic School girl.. I was always getting the “psychological ruler on my hand” if I ate what my mom thought was unacceptable. Usually this meant anything that was once inside all the candybar wrappers she used to find stuffed under my bed. I had gotten used to eating not what I wanted, but what was allowed.
Then as I got older and my eating disorder started to develop I realized how much control I could have over my weight, but controlling what I let my body digest. It became this strategic game. Instead of focusing on college, or boys, or my future, I spent most of my day writing down foods, researching the nutritional components of it, and then analyzing how I could cut it in tiny portions and push it around on my plate.
I can’t tell you how many Dinners, Birthday Parties,Weddings,Bar Mitzvah, you name it that I didn’t eat what was offered because of what I knew it had in it. Everybody else didn’t seem to have the vast knowledge that I did, or they wouldn’t all be eating it right? I mean I had all that power and genius…hmmm?..maybe that’s why everybody else was so happy and enjoying themselves and I was the one in the corner, miserable and hungry. Or was it because they were the ones in control, that they were giving themselves permission to enjoy life, and that they had better things to do with their lives then sit around and waste their brain cells on a Brisket. or a basket of bread.
So that takes me back to that word “Opportunity”. See, nowadays I see everyday as an “Opportunity” to take a day back for myself that I took away for all those years.
That could come in the form of buying a “Bikini” or eating a “Cookie”, but I don’t let anything prohibit me from my happiness. Its also gives me a sense of new found freedom. I don’t just sit around all day eating in the form of “New Opportunities”, but I do let myself have what I want, if I want it. Some days I don’t want it, not because it’s “Good” or “Bad”, but because I’d rather have something else. If I’m going to go to a party, or a dinner, I base my choices off of what looks good, and then I eat it with Respect. I let myself taste it, and enjoy it, and then I move on. I don’t sit around and break it down either, but I know that anything and everything in moderation is going to be just fine.
Ok Ok…that all sounds great…but years ago, I used to have to do the research when it came to nutrition, but today new “Health Guidelines” have required almost all foods to require a nutritional label. Also quite a lot of Restaurants lately are putting the calorie content next to their menu items, and being that restaurant portions are five times a serving you can imagine those numbers aren’t low. So now what are you supposed to do?, it’s hard to ignore all those numbers when lately they seem to be hunting you down and sitting on your face.
In my next blog I’ll be discussing how to survive the calorie counting ambush that happens everytime we try to look away. In the meantime I encourage you to try to look at food as food..fruit, vegetables, eggs, beans..and yes I know it’s hard but try to stop calling “Mr. Donut by so many of those mean other names…it hurts his feelings! Enjoy!!!