Part Two: The Evolution of My Relationship with Food

In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

Once I got to my goal weight with Weight Watchers, I had a little more flexibility with the system and how much of the “bad” foods I could eat. I was able to play the game a bit, but still cycled between that all or nothing mentality and was either being really, really good, or really, really bad when it came to eating. I learned to identify my trigger foods and make sure I never had them in my house – like peanut butter. I literally could not keep a jar in my kitchen because inevitably I would eat it by the spoonful until it was gone. And though peanut butter isn’t bad for you (like pizza would probably be considered by most), it was definitely one of those foods I did not allow myself to have when I was being “good” because it was too calorically dense, and I didn’t trust myself around it.

When you’re used to behaving one way or eating one way for most of your life, it’s a very, very hard cycle to break. I remember reading stories of people who had completely changed their lives and their bodies and preached the “everything in moderation” thing, and secretly hating them. How could there possibly be a way for someone who once struggled so much with their weight like I have all my life, come to a place where they trusted themselves around food? I didn’t buy it.

But after maintaining my weight loss give or take for about a year and a half, I realized that though I had gotten myself to a healthy weight, I still had an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. It still held a power over me and caused extreme preoccupation and anxiety, and it just came to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore.

One of the big first steps in breaking out of this cycle was changing my goal weight. I think I was putting so much pressure on myself to maintain a certain number on the scale, that it was getting in the way of me living my life and really giving food more control over me than was necessary, or healthy. When I upped my goal weight from 164 to 177, I felt a tremendous amount of pressure lifted. It gave me much more wiggle room to figure out where my body would land naturally and took away some of the power the scale held over me.

The other big thing that led to breaking out of this cycle was actually not something that I did directly – it was getting into a relationship with someone who had a lot less healthy eating habits than I did (which has since ended, but that’s a different conversation for a different day). I didn’t realize quite realize it while it was happening, but spending a lot of time around a lot of the food that used to cause me tremendous anxiety exposed me to these foods more than I’d ever been before. You know how they say if you are scared of heights, you need to gradually expose yourself to heights and let yourself feel the anxiety, and then once you realize nothing bad will happen to you, it helps relieve the anxiety and get you over your fear? (For a better explanation that actually makes sense, you can go here.)

I think for me, being around foods that used to have power over me and cause extreme anxiety over and over (and over) conditioned me to feel less anxious and preoccupied around them. It was a slow evolution and the first few weeks/months definitely still caused a physical reaction and made me ask myself a lot of questions. And, it was scary and uncomfortable being OK with being in that situation repeatedly. But, it also really helped me realize a few things.

First, I was not going to gain back all the weight by being near a pizza.

Second, I could have pizza every day if I wanted to, so there was no need to eat an entire pizza and make myself sick, because I could just have a few pieces and then if I wanted it again the next day, I could have it again (because it was probably going to be around).

Third, by letting myself have what I was actually craving and not eating what I thought I should be eating, I was able to eat less to feel satisfied.

Fourth, my preoccupation and anxiety around “bad foods” slowly lifted over time, and they stopped pulling my attention in every time I was exposed to them.

And finally, by letting myself have what I felt like eating, I actually started craving healthy foods and eating them because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.

As I said, this was a sloooow process and took a lot of courage to learn to trust myself around the foods that I hadn’t trusted myself around… ever. And it’s been a pretty eye opening process that has taught me a lot about myself. I don’t think I’m ever going to be “cured” of my issues with food and will always keep Weight Watchers as my backup for when the scale does start moving in the wrong direction. I know it works, but I don’t want to have to count everything I eat everyday for the rest of my life. And I’m not willing to.



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16 Comments on Part Two: The Evolution of My Relationship with Food

  1. Marie
    October 22, 2013 at 10:25 am (1 year ago)

    I really enjoyed reading through your process of working through your relationship with food. I found some great nuggets on knowledge in there that I believe will help me get to my happy place with regards to food. Similar to what you described, I am at a happy weight, but I need to get to a happier state of mind.

    I found your statement with regards to counting points interesting, “…but I don’t want to have to count everything I eat everyday for the rest of my life.” I was wondering how you feel that statement lines up with the WW ideology? And your position as a leader? To me, WW as a program is a huge tracking advocate, even when using simply filling. Even after reaching my goal weight and maintaining it for nearly a year, I do not feel prepared to live a life without tracking.

    Thanks for sharing Part 2!

    Reply
  2. Becky
    October 22, 2013 at 11:10 am (1 year ago)

    Such great posts. Again, it is nice to know I’m not alone in the world when it comes to these anxieties and bad relationships with food.

    I have recently switched to Simply Filling and have not regretted that decision yet. I eat only when I’m hungry and only filling foods. It is amazing how my cravings have changed and the things I want to eat work so well in the plan. I barely eat snacks anymore either. Doing WW for so long really makes you tired of tracking. I like knowing that I don’t “have” to track if all I have is filling foods but I do track just to make sure I am being accountable.

    I love not worrying about points. (Unless it is booze of course) LOL

    You are such an inspiration!!!

    Reply
  3. Weighting For 50
    October 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm (1 year ago)

    I have really enjoyed reading your process Beth! You continue to inspire!

    Reply
  4. Sammy
    October 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm (1 year ago)

    This is so interesting! I love your writing. Does that mean you are no longer a WW leader?

    Reply
    • Beth
      October 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm (1 year ago)

      Aww thanks Sammy! And nope, I’m still a leader with them. I think it’s normal to go through different phases with Weight Watchers and it really is what changed my life in the first place. Tracking will always be one of those tools I keep in my back pocket for when I need it! And who knows, things could change any minute. :)

      Reply
      • Sammy
        October 23, 2013 at 8:57 am (1 year ago)

        You are just wonderful! You and your blog are such an inspiration.

        Reply
  5. Kim
    October 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm (1 year ago)

    When you said you were anxious/preoccupied around food and eventually tried exposing yourself to more risky foods, what was it that you were anxious about?

    The reason I ask is because I get extremely preoccupied by food. If there is a package of Oreo cookies in my kitchen, I HAVE to eat them until I feel satisfied, which usually means the whole package. I can’t take my mind off them.

    Reply
  6. Carrie
    October 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm (1 year ago)

    I love your second point about the ability to have pizza every day if you want. Maybe keeping that in mind will help me not feel like I need to eat four pieces in order to enjoy it.

    Reply
  7. Tammy in Austin
    October 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm (1 year ago)

    I actually find more freedom IN counting because I can’t trust my hunger at all to tell me when I’ve had enough, but I’m also pleasantly surprised at how much I can have of healthier foods, which, over time, have become my preference for eating at home.
    The stories of your successful journey with both its ups and downs encourage those of us who are still working to get the scale down even close to a goal weight. I do WW with the ProTracker App because I can’t afford meetings or online. I would love that encouragement and sharing so I rely heavily on the encouraging weight loss blogs that I read to help keep me motivated and inspired.

    Reply
  8. irene
    October 27, 2013 at 8:07 am (1 year ago)

    I have done weight watchers in the past but unfortunately really couldn’t handle the counting points but maybe its time to thing again thanks for the post

    Reply
  9. Vicki Lomonte
    October 27, 2013 at 8:44 am (1 year ago)

    I just found you today, as I start yet another grocery list, determined to avoid this week’s consumption off entire bag of “healthier” Oreos. Your post is spot on; I also am preoccupied, anxious, and know well that certain foods have power over me. Thanks for the inspiration – I’m starting my journey today with some of your carb/protein snack recipes, best of luck with Part Two!

    Reply
  10. Alexa D
    November 5, 2013 at 11:21 pm (12 months ago)

    Beth, you really are an inspiration and your progress continues to drive me forward. I’ve lost 7lbs already thanks to you :)

    Reply
  11. stellarfashionandfitness
    November 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm (12 months ago)

    It is so amazing to hear that, once you reached your goal weight, you were able to transform your relationship with food to one where you don’t have to over-analyze everything you eat & you can eat the things you want, just in controlled portions. I am really hoping I get there one day! My fear is that I am already trying to do that, and not losing much weight or losing it reaallly slowly, and therefore I just can’t control my portions & eat within a calorie range & lose weight. I feel like if I don’t cut things out drastically, I may never get down to that place I want to be (like you, 175ish sounds ideal). Do you think it’s necessary to be really restricted, and then ease back into eating what you want, but with portion control, AFTER losing the weight?

    Reply
  12. molly
    December 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm (11 months ago)

    I totally agree with your comment and our relationships with food I know I use it as a crutch when I am upset are worried and its part of a cycle.

    Reply

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