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Love/Hate Affair

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If there is one thing in this world that I enjoy, one thing that I really look forward to on a regular basis, one single thing that pre-occupies a disproportionate space in my mind… it’s FOOD!!!! I love to eat and if I had the capacity to just eat… and eat… and eat… without any concern with what I was doing to my body, then I would!!

In fact… I have in the past, done just that. People talk a lot about drug addiction, alcohol addiction or cigarette addiction, but not too long ago in my life I can honestly say that I was addicted to food… and not good food either.  I was addicted to the sort of food which most people already recognize as unhealthy.  I could and would eat until I was uncomfortably full and then eat just a bit more because I loved food so much.

But it showed… my love affair with food wreaked terrible havoc, not just upon my body, but also upon my mind. I was significantly overweight, super unfit with my skin blemished and unsightly. However, I didn’t realize it at the time, but my food addiction was having a negative impact on the very core of my being.  I had no self-worth, no self-love, and my confidence levels were through the floor.  This, in turn, affected my day to day life. I didn’t want to leave the house, to socialize and to enjoy my life, I just wanted to squirrel myself away and pretend that the outside world did not exist.

I was happy (or so I thought). I was married with a child. I didn’t need to go out, I didn’t need to socialize or have friends. I had my wife and my child to occupy my time, to keep me busy… but those of you who read my previous blog post about fear will know how this turned out.

I suddenly found myself alone, rattling around in a big empty house with no one to talk to. Still overweight… still super unfit and still with no self-worth. So I did exactly what I should have done. I lost weight, I made myself fitter and in the process improved my sense of self-worth.

But… and it is a big but… I still love food.

However, because I now have a much better understanding of the food that I put into my body and the effect that it has upon my body and my mind, a love/hate relationship has developed between me and food.  I would still love to be able to eat whatever I want… but I hate the fact that I can’t.  I hate the fact, that I know exactly what I shouldn’t be eating, but I still want it anyway, like a smoker is addicted to nicotine, an alcoholic addicted to the bottle or a drug addict that can’t wait for their next fix.  Hate is the key word here because as we know… “hate leads to suffering”.

The situation though is not hopeless. Where there is a will to be better, a will to do better, there is hope.  It all boils down to the way we think about food.

Just recently, I have been considering going on an ultra-strict diet. One where I religiously count calories and monitor my protein, carb, and fat intake, going to painstaking lengths to make sure that I get as near calorically perfect meals as possible.  It worked for me in the past after all because that’s how I managed to lose over 80lbs of weight in a relatively short space of time. But within that period I didn’t really enjoy the food. I found it boring, uninspiring and rather a chore.  In essence, if food were my beloved pet cat (or dog) I’d stuck it out in the cold and ultimately that didn’t make me happy.

Since then, my attitude towards food has softened a little, however, what has now developed is a cycle where I punish myself mentally if I know I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t have or reward myself with eating something I shouldn’t have when I know I’ve done something good (for example, a workout or a long walk).

This isn’t how anyone’s relationship with food should be. This punish/reward behavior towards food doesn’t do us any favors either in body or in mind, but how do we break the cycle?…

We change the way we look at food.

I’ve been researching recently how bodybuilders manage to get their physique and there is one guy in particularly on YouTube who goes by the name of Scooby who stands out to me.  This guy is in his 50’s and he looks fantastic. In one of his videos, he states the following…

“The first thing you need to do if you’re into fitness or bodybuilding is to free yourself of this romantic notion that meals are a social event.  They’re not, they’re a bodily function”

Now I’ve watched quite a few of Scooby’s videos and generally I agree with what he says, but I have to say, this isn’t one of them.  Why can’t we all have the body and physique that we want and  still allow ourselves to love food too?

It’s just that we have to love the right kind of food.  Not the junk food we are used to consuming in copious quantities but also not the plain bland chicken breasts for the purposes of losing weight either.

I’m pretty sure that we can find a happy medium somewhere and you know what?… finding that happy medium is going to be an adventure.  The plethora of food out there means that there must be plenty of dishes which are not only really healthy and good for our mind and body, but also delicious too.

I can’t wait to start expanding my love affair with food to a whole new level and we should all embrace the idea of trying things that we wouldn’t have previously tried. To experience flavors and combinations of flavors that a year ago we would never have even considered. Yes, there will be times when we choose to eat something that is healthy but we don’t particularly like, but that will all be part of the adventure.

This punish/reward cycle with food is over. By seeing food as an adventure, we find a way to enrich our lives, not hold them back.

Do you love food?  Do you recognize the punish/reward that discussed here?… then maybe it’s time we all turned our love affair with food into something positive?

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