I have strangers in my kitchen this morning.
- One aluminum tray with a plastic lid (the disposable kind)
And inside are these things:
- Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar Mix
- A jar of Hershey’s Hot Fudge
- A package of Oreo Cookies
So, I don’t eat this stuff, and I don’t keep this stuff in my house, either. Sometimes, when I tell people things like that – when I say “no thank you” to cookies or whatever – I feel guilty. I feel as though this may come across as judgmental, or that somehow I’m implying that I’m “too good” for it or that I think I’m better than others because of what I eat (or don’t).
It’s not true. I’m sure I’ve talked about this before. What is true is that – FOR ME – one of the ways I’ve been able to maintain my health (and also a normal, healthy weight) is by just cutting these foods out of my diet. I don’t think they’re bad, or evil, and I don’t think that I somehow become a better person because I avoid them.
What they ARE, though – or at least what they have been in my life – is bad FOR ME. The issue is with me, not with the food. Because another truth about me is that I absolutely adore everything in the world that tastes good to me (regardless of whether it’s “good” for me or not), and I love eating. I LOVE eating. I can’t even put enough emphasis on that word – there isn’t a font bold enough. And in a broader sense, I’m just a total hedonist in general. I want ALL the pleasure. I want EVERYTHING that feels good to me. I want it ALL the time.
And … sorry, not sorry. Weirdly, I don’t feel guilty about that. Maybe I use up all my guilt on other things? But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting pleasure. I think it’s a pretty solid life strategy, actually.
But my issues with food and weight didn’t come about simply because I love to eat. It’s not just because I really love cookies. Sure, that was part of it. But the issues began when I started to use food as an escape – as a way to avoid dealing with lots of other things in my life. I started this young. Like, six-years-old young. I remember hoarding and hiding food, and I remember eating things I didn’t even like just because they were there.
And I remember having all of this STUFF inside that I didn’t know what to do with. I didn’t know why I felt so different from everyone else, and like I could never fit in. I didn’t know why I felt like there was something really wrong with me inside – that I was broken in some weird way. I didn’t know why I felt nervous all of the time, and why I’d be sick to my stomach every day before school. I didn’t know why I needed to get perfect grades and to do everything perfectly and why any mistake surely meant that I was a failure as a person. No one ever told me that. My parents put literally zero amount of pressure on me. It was all coming from me.
Sadness. Abuse. Loneliness. What on Earth do you do with all of that?
I ate it.
And so, when you fast-forward to the point when I was able to start turning things around, part of the solution for me was to just avoid the “binge foods” – the stuff that tasted the best to me because it was full of sugar and fat. Again, there was (and is) nothing wrong with those food items! What was wrong was how I used them as both a shield against the rest of the world and as a weapon against myself, at the same time. It’s funny how that works, right? Both the attack and the defense.
And a bunch of time has passed and I got help and therapy and I’ve learned a whole lot about how I need to take care of myself – on the outside and on the inside. I’m kinder to myself now, and I don’t use food or weight to isolate myself or to avoid dealing with the shittier parts of life or having to feel things. Today, I feel ALL THE FEELS. And I choose to eat differently because I care about feeling good. And there are so many things I want to do in this lifetime that I need to live to be really, really old … so I need to preserve this meat suit as best as I can!
Anyway. Here’s where I’m going with all of these random thoughts and dusty memories on this early Sunday morning. Later today, I’m going to make this EPIC dessert for a coworker who has been going through a tough time. I went online and literally searched for the most decadent and amazing thing I could find (that was also pretty simple to make, because, hi, it’s me) because that’s what he wanted. I found a recipe for Oreo-stuffed, hot-fudge-covered chocolate chip cookie bars.
The cool part for me is that I can do this now. That I can go out and buy these things and bake something for another person. That I don’t feel the need to be as rigid as I used to be, and that I can invite these strangers into my house again with very little fear. That I have the opportunity to show myself that I’m NOT ACTUALLY A MONSTER around food. And most importantly, that I have these opportunities to decide whether I’m worth making the best choices for myself … whether it’s as complicated as choosing the right relationships or as simple as NOT bingeing on Oreos. That – most days – I’m saying yes.