Today I came face to face with an old frenemy.. one which I’ve managed to give the flick but still manages to creep back into my life from time to time..rearing it’s ugly head.
It’s me. In the past I was my worst enemy and most toxic friend, all because of a crippling emotional dependency on food.
The reasoning behind it is complicated, but to paint the background history I can remember typing up diets under the guise of “healthy eating ideas” for my lunchbox at the age of 10. Part of this obsession with food came from my mum, looking back now. Her weight seemed to yo-yo, she would try various weight-loss techniques and never seemed to be happy with her body. 10 was around the age I carried some pesky puppy fat, so perhaps this is what triggered the need to “be healthy”.
Jump to the age of 13 and I became obsessive about exercise. I had a friend in the same boat who would stick to a rigid regime. Upon reflection this was my first glimpse at the dangerous “all or nothing” aspect of my personality, which allows me to push myself to extremes with an iron will. I used to cycle on my Mum’s exercise bike for up to an hour sometimes, if not more, and then mentally torture myself at the bite of a cookie. I never vomited, I never skipped meals, but the obsession was there. Out of all of my highschool years I was slimmest in the body of my 13 year old self (an Australian size 8, US 4) , but still I looked in the mirror and saw flabby parts.
This unsustainable lifestyle is what pushed me towards the urge to binge. My logic: chocolate was strictly in the ‘no go’ zone. I would go weeks without touching it but as soon as I crumbled, instead of eating one birthday chocolate I would have to consume the whole box, feel miserably guilty and so to purge the shame, off I would go pedalling on that bike again. Easter had to be the most torturous time of year: I would be showered with giant bunnies, eggs and self loathing, because I didn’t know how to control myself around food I had labelled the spawn of Satan. I would binge and then exorcise the demons with running.
Balance and moderation were the unicorns of dieting: unfathomable and non-existent to someone hell bent on avoiding weight gain.
At this stage I was still slim because of all of the exercise, but this changed at 16 when things turned topsy-turvy (curvy?). Some other shit was going down at this point; my parents split up. I struggled to deal with the shambles that our family became, I stopped trying so hard at school..the old cliche. The only thing that seemed to be going up in my life were the scales. But then even they went down. And up again. Thus began the ping-pong war on the scales as numbers flitted back and forth. I managed to maintain a slim figure for my ball at the beginning of my last year of highschool, but then things literally and figuratively ballooned out of control.
Food became an emotional crutch for me, and began to dominate every waking hour.
I would jump out of bed wandering what sorts of foods I could get my hands on that day.
I would tune out in human bio and start plotting my secret binge fest to be orchestrated after school.
I would be shovelling dinner into my mouth suppressing the urge to vomit because I was so full from after school snacks, but still be plotting what I would steal from the pantry once Mum went to bed.
Snacks consisted of white bread galore with thick lashings of butter and jam, cookies, milo cereal with chocolate topping, cornflakes with honey, icecream, melted cooking chocolate.
The high was only ever short term; my blood sugar levels would aggressively spike and then equally as violently come crashing down, leaving me feeling guilty, ashamed and disgusted. I had no tolerance for these negative feelings and didn’t want to cope with the shit storm around me, so I turned back to my only ally..the Nutella jar.
And so the cycle continued.
(I have to leave it there for now but I’ll pick up soon I promise.. 😛 The feel good vibes are coming!)