My Relationship With Food

Photo by Rachel Park on Unsplash

I've never really said this out loud, but I have always had a somewhat unhealthy relationship when it comes to food. Just like any other addiction, I was still using food to cope with things going on in my life. It would be my comfort in times of stress, worry, sadness, or even boredom. While I have improved over the years, I've more changed what I eat as opposed to how much I eat. That does not mean I don't have unhealthy binge fests, but I typically keep my binging moments to healthy foods that will actually help my body instead of wearing it down.

They usually say that women have more problems with food than men do, and to some extent, I could agree with that. We have so many more emotional things that we deal with (periods, pregnancy, fluctuating hormones) and food can change your mood. While I might feel guilty after indulging in an entire bag of chips, I do have a lift in my mood during the process. With all the processed chemicals and enhanced flavor, it can actually become addictive.

When I was younger, I treated my body less than amazing. From past journal entries, you can conclude that my self-esteem was nowhere to be found, which caused food to become a problem fast. I didn't care what I looked like because all I saw was ugly in the mirror. With that, food became a form of friendship that always made me feel better (at least for a little while). After binging on horrible snacks, I would stop eating for the rest of the day.

Photo by Dose Juice on Unsplash

While I never was anorexic or lost a scary amount of weight, I was harming my body without realizing it. The food I was eating had little to no nutrients, and I would engorge in a large number of calories before starving myself for the rest of the day. My daily calories were still less than I needed, but everything that was pouring into my stomach was filled with bad fats and sugars. This method didn't help me lose weight, but it did keep me from getting larger. I was stuck in this middle road that I never intended to walk down.

I'd like to say that I changed my ways after high school, but that would be a lie. Honestly, I started taking care of my body shortly after I found out I had PCOS (which was a little less than a year ago). Finding this out was a wake-up call for me. I wish I could say it was a need to be healthy, live long, or feel better about myself, but none of these changed my mentality. It took an illness for me to see that something needed to change.

Once I figured out I had PCOS, I started researching everything I could about the disorder and what I could do to reduce the symptoms it brings. With my searching, I found different foods I should be avoiding (dairy, gluten, soy), and found supplements that my body desperately needed every day. Not being fantastic in the pill-popping department, I went into a more in-depth search to find out what foods had a lot of the supplements and minerals I was needing.

Through this knowledge, I changed my ways drastically. I cut out gluten, dairy, and soy while putting more whole foods into my daily intake. I started taking more extended grocery shopping hauls so that I could judge what was about to go into my body. This wasn't a diet mentality, but an 'I need to change my life around' moment. I only shopped the outskirts of the stores (where most of the whole foods are) and kept my snacks to granola and trail mixes.

With my food changing, I started listening to my body more. I started noticing when things didn't sit right in my digestive system and how often I actually felt hungry. Doing this helped show me that I'm more of a snacker than a meal person, meaning that I needed to eat several small meals a day instead of a few large meals. I wasn't counting calories or grams of fat but giving my body proper nutrients. Through trial and error, I found that my body needed healthy fats in the morning to stay energized as well as plenty of water.

Now I can say that I am a healthy person with a better relationship with food. I still binge, but this is rarely bad junk foods now. My snacking has become healthy supplements my body needs, and I'm always listening to my body and how it reacts to what I put into it. I also noticed that through this lifestyle change, my body was performing so much better. I wake up feeling more energized than I ever did, have a lot more motivation, and don't get groggy in the afternoons.

While I haven't lost a drastic amount of weight, I feel better because I'm healthier than I've ever been before. I wish a hormonal disorder weren't the reason for my change, but to some degree, I'm happy it happened to me. If I never figured this out, I would still be living a life of unhealthy relationships and bad choices that leave me feeling guilty and disgusted with myself. 

All of this showed me that being healthy doesn't mean counting everything that goes into your body, but finding out what your system needs to function correctly. For this realization alone, I will forever be grateful.
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