I try not to focus on food. I don’t like discussing it. I certainly don’t write about it. Why would I? My palate is about as advanced as a caveman’s. And, much like a caveman, I prefer simple, wholesome, nourishing sustenance, which, until recently, I typically scarfed down before heading off to engage in some boneheaded activity or other. I still do the same boneheaded stuff but I’m doing less “scarfing” as of late.
I’m not averse to talking about food, but, after a decade and a half of binging, purging, and starving, I just haven’t wanted to put much energy into that particular area of existence. It took a lot of work for me to get to a place where I know that food is fuel, nothing more, nothing less. But I can’t say I ever cultivated gratitude for it. My relationship with the stuff that keeps me alive has been more like a truce between enemies. I begrudgingly accepted what was on my plate, but never allowed myself to develop a relationship with it. Until recently.
After years of mindlessly eating healthy food in front of the TV, mechanically shoveling it in according to some arbitrary idea of what and how much I was supposed to be consuming, I realized I hadn’t ever been connected to the experience of eating. If I wasn’t going out to eat with a friend, or sitting across from a date, at mealtime, I’d cop a squat in front of the TV and inhale my food while watching the latest episode of Law & Order: SVU. Relaxing, right?
Anyway, I long ago realized that getting out of the habit of distracted eating would be the final frontier in achieving complete freedom from my eating disorder. After many false starts and stops, six months or so ago, I finally committed to spending time alone with food, tuning into my body, and tasting each bite. I gave up eating in front of the TV or while multitasking. I decided that I want to be an example for girls like the one I used to be, girls who have been socially conditioned to believe that their value can be measured by a number on a scale, their worth determined by the circumference of their thighs. I find that, by consistently slowing down to nourish myself, I become repeatedly aware that the things I’m truly hungry for are so much larger and more meaningful than food.
The simple act of listening to my body three times a day, checking in with it, asking it questions (“Are you still hungry? Are you full? What would you like? What don’t you want?”) enables me to get closer to the self-love I crave. And why would I ever want to be distracted from that?