One of my favourite topics to think, talk and write about!! F O O D!
|TRIGGER WARNING| This post contains stories of being weighed, body shaming, and food. If these are triggers for you, please don`t read. I`m sharing my story of coming to understand the relationship between food and my mental health.
I am a major foodie and enjoy all things food. The more cheese, the better. Unless there is bread. Then both of those combined are even BETTER. And, I have a sweet-tooth. Oh yum, now I`m thinking, donuts, cinnamon buns, and cupcakes with buttercream frosting. My true weakness though? Chips. I L O V E chips. Well… I love all things. All different kinds of food, sweets, and salty foods.
You get the picture? I love food.
My whole life I have sort of always thought this to be a bad thing. Like a flaw. If I could just fix that one thing about me, then maybe I wouldn`t be broken anymore. I could lose weight, because I wouldn`t have such a desire to consume food. I had this thought that food was the issue. That, it was all because of food. Everything that I deemed wrong with me.
I live with Bipolar 2 Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Neither of these make it any easier understanding my relationship with food.
My anxiety often takes over and runs my mental health into the ground, and before I know it, I am curled up in a ball sobbing.
Food has always been the enemy in my life and in my mind. I have always been at war with food.
I read this quote, though, forgive me, because I can`t remember who it`s from, but it said something along the lines of if you stopped depriving your body of the foods that you actually wanted to eat, you`d notice that you overate less.
I`ve been carrying that with me every day now for 2 weeks, because it`s kept me grounded. It`s made me feel safe.
See, I`ve had to learn that food isn`t the issue, but rather my mind, and how it thinks. I`ve always thought skinny = beautiful. But, just on me. For everyone else, I just think everyone is beautiful. I`ve always been intensely critical and mean to myself. I`ve spent my life feeling undeserving and unworthy of everything.
Flashback to grade 5 phys-ed class and even remembering it brings tears of embarassment and shame to my eyes. I was weighed, and the weight announced, in front of my entire class. I remember how badly I wished I could just leave that school and never return. Along with that, we were tested on how long you could stay up after you did a pull up (which, let me tell you, I STILL can`t do, and I am the strongest now than I`ve ever been in my life), and obviously, I failed that test too.
There were push-ups, and sit-ups on this test, but I never even knew how to do those, and now I was being tested?! I`m sure it`s easy to see that I didn`t enjoy this class.
On a regular basis I felt not good enough to participate, and not comfortable enough to even want to try. It`s when I started learning that my body was not okay, and I had something to be ashamed of. It`s when my mental health deteriorated fast and I was left feeling like I had nothing to offer, just because of my shape, size, and weight.
Now, maybe things are different. I sure hope they are anyways. It was at this point that I knew sports weren`t my thing. Though I never even had gotten to try (and now I love sports, so maybe I would have then).
This is just a small tidbit of my hate relationship with my body. I hated it, and gave up on it, and felt it failed me. Even as a child.
When I think about that now, it makes me cringe. For a child to feel so sad, and so betrayed by their body. For a child to be taught that they are valued solely based on a number, and physical performance. This hurts me still to think about, and directly affected my mental health.
When I read that quote above, it just kept sitting with me. I couldn`t get it out of my head. It`s what has helped me to stop weighing myself 4 times a day. . . yes . . . I was at a point of weighing myself 4 times a day, and hating myself for it more and more every single day. But, I couldn`t stop. Being so completely obsessed with this, I felt completely unworthy of taking time for self-love and self-care.
It`s been 14 days since I weighed myself. I have been enjoying food, and paying close attention to what my body is saying. Taking the time to learn what my body is saying to me, and taking the time to listen to it.
I`ve still been loving food though. I`m working through an understanding that food isn`t my enemy. Food is fuel, and how I fuel my body is directly related to how my body and mind feels.
There are some foods that I enjoy a little more, simply because I know they have a positive effect on me and my body/mind. Some of these are:
I try to not have too too many carbs/grains, simply because they leave me feeling very full and groggy/tired. When I am tired, I get rather emotional, and when I am emotional, the wheels start turning in my head, and before I know it, I am in full breakdown mode and sobbing. So, not good for my mental health. I enjoy few fruit, so when I have those on hand then I do like them, but I don`t go wild about them. Yogurt is a staple in my house is as well. I find it light, but still filling.
I think me and my body will always be on a journey together, and while I can pick a part every one of it`s flaws, it definitely does a lot of good for me, and is a safe space to live in. My body is my home, and only now, at 29, am I beginning to understand what that means.
Food is not my enemy, nor even is my mind. Once I begun understanding that food is fuel. Sometimes you`re gonna cheap out and get the crap, but goes faster maybe fuel (bad analogy maybe?) and sometimes you`re going to invest a little more and make yourself beautiful substantial meals.
And, either way, as long as you are okay, healthy, happy, and at peace, then what else matters?
If you are someone who struggles with your relationship with food, then I hope you know that it is most certainly not a fault, nor weakness of yours. You are worthy and deserving of all the love, and affection in the world. I know you are hurting. I know that feeling, and I also just want to tell you, it`s okay. It`s okay to hurt, and to feel, or to even just be confused by what is going on. Remember please, your body is where you live. It`s your home. But, it doesn`t define you. Your beautiful spirit and soul… the way you sparkle.. that`s what defines you.
I spent so much of my life, simply wanting to be normal, and now I wonder, what even is normal? I`m sure we all have our struggles. We all have a story.
So, whether or not your story/struggle is surrounding food, or not, it`s okay to have it. It`s okay to say you`re not okay. It`s also okay to be gentle with yourself, and let yourself have triggers and cues, and really lean into them. Listen to what your body is telling you. Hear/feel what your mind is saying.
If I could go back to that girl in grade 5, first thing I think I`d give her a hug. She was humiliated. Then, I think the teacher could use some educating as well, for this is simply not the way we teach children to love, respect, and care for their bodies.
What are some of your go-to foods? Do you find any foods have a direct impact on your mental health?
Love Always, N
P.S. Don`t forget to read about my tips surrounding stress management over here! (click here)