I have a complicated relationship with food. This is something I’ve struggled with for almost 15 years. Some days I feel like I’ve completely conquered it but other days I feel relics from my past creeping into the present, and I’m worried I’ll slip up so badly that one mistake will send me spiralling back down to where I was before.
Part of me feels like a failure because I haven’t maintained my clean diet 100% since arriving in Berlin.
I’m worried about being completely honest with my eating difficulties because I don’t want others to judge me, or to think I’m crazy, or that I’m not in control of my life, but sometimes I experience this intense self-loathing to where I feel like I don’t deserve to eat at all, that I should never be completely full or satisfied with the food I eat. How dare I eat as much food as I want? I feel compelled to hide because I can’t let others see me eat anything, no matter how healthy it is, because somehow they will judge me for eating. Obviously, I don’t deserve it because of the sorry state I’m in.
But on my good days, I’m genuinely proud of who I’ve become and completely happy with my body and how I feel about myself. I enjoy food without an ounce of guilt and look forward to meals. Fortunately, I have much more good days than bad, and the bad days happen less and less as time goes on. Eating HCLF and mostly fruit has been a huge help because I can eat as much nourishing food as I want without worrying about gaining weight or counting calories. This lifestyle also taught me how to properly recognise true hunger, so now I only eat when I’m truly hungry and not just when I’m bored.
I’ve made substantial progress through the years but I still have difficult days, like today.
I haven’t been eating much fruit during the day since arriving here. Eating sufficient fruit has been the last thing on my mind, honestly, because Berlin has been a bit stressful. I miss having my own space and my own tools to prepare my meals. I know fruit doesn’t require much preparation, but I still prefer to cut up fruit or make smoothies. I miss that.
Because I’m slacking on the fruit, I find myself very hungry when I’m out and about. This leads to mini-binge episodes of heavier foods, like veggie sandwiches, crackers, and rice because my body craves calories. (I say mini-binge because this doesn’t remotely represent the large scale types of binges I experienced in the past….)
I want to eat completely clean (i.e. only fruits and veggies) because I feel the best when I do eat this way, but I keep slipping up. And anytime I slip up and eat something other than plain fruits or veggies, I am terribly hard on myself for cracking. Granted, my binges are small amounts of healthy foods, always vegan and low in fat and salt, but I can’t help but feel like a failure every time. Part of me knows that I shouldn’t get bent out of shape because it’s just food but the other part of me won’t let this slide.
Today, in a moment of weakness, I ordered a veggie bagel at the café. I knew I should eat fruit instead, but for some reason (most likely hunger) I caved and ordered it. It was delicious and satisfying but I felt so terribly self-conscious about eating it in front of other people. It was almost as if these people knew I was cheating somehow, that I shouldn’t be eating it, or that I don’t deserve to eat it. I’ve been conditioned through the years to feel bad about eating food, so when I do deviate from my diet and enjoy it, I feel like I don’t have the right to do so.
Since then I’ve talked myself out of this pity party and feel better about things. A veggie bagel isn’t the end of the world. In fact, I can (and should) eat whatever I want because no one is forcing me to eat a certain way. I choose to eat primarily fruits and veggies because I have more energy, fewer allergy symptoms, and feel the best overall. I recognise that I simply need to eat more calories during the day, ideally from fruit, because I most likely crave heavier cooked foods because I’m hungry. This has happened to me before, so I really need to be more aware of it.
Even though today was rough, I won’t let one ‘mistake’ derail my efforts. I will still have bad days from time to time, but I’ve come a long way so far. It has taken me years to get to the point where I’m able to eat food like a normal person and not feel bad about it. Now I remind myself every single day that I deserve to eat as much as I care for and I should never feel guilting about nourishing my body. In the same way that I choose to be happy every single day, I choose to be positive about my progress and won’t let myself dwell on the negative.