I Never Learned How to Eat. I Only Learned How to Diet.

This has been on my mind a lot as we’ve been kind of morphing the ways we buy groceries. 

How can you do that? You might ask. Well, if there is a way to complicate something simple like going to the grocery store and buying all the things you need at one place, I will create it. I like to make extra work for everyone. 

Ugh, I don’t know why I’m presenting it like this. All self-deprecating and stuff. 

My brain does that to me a lot. Like, “Oh here’s something you’re enjoying! Why don’t we take some time and figure out how mean people can tear it down so that you’re prepared for when they do.”

But in the process of doing that, my brain a lot of times talks me into not doing whatever it was enjoying so thoroughly before. 

You know, to protect me. Bleh. It does too much protection for my own good, I say. 

Oh, back to the eating. 

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. 

When I was growing up, I didn’t learn about food as a fuel for my body. I learned which foods were bad and which foods were “treats” that would make me feel better. 

I learned that to be a woman meant that I must be on a diet at all times, watching what I eat because “you want to keep my figure, don’t you?”

People were saying this to me before I even knew what a figure was and if I did indeed want to keep it. 

It was especially hard because the food I found to be delicious (potatoes, noodles, other starchy things) were deemed “bad”. So I felt “bad” every time I enjoyed them.

Because if it’s a “bad” food, I’m a “bad” person because I love them so much. And it was bad to eat the stuff I liked before the stuff I didn’t like, because then I’d be left with a bad taste in my mouth the rest of the night. 

So I taught myself to save a “best bite” of every meal. Often, this backfires on me now that I’m a grown up and don’t have to clean every morsel from my plate. What happens now is I’m too full by the end of the meal for my “best bite” so it sits uneaten. Or given to my dining companion, lol. 

Another I learned growing up was how to use food as the ultimate reward, only allowing oneself to have candy or treats to celebrate something. 

Cake? Birthdays only?

Pie? Thanksgiving.

Candy? Celebrate good grades or similar (obviously my grades were good and this is why I am addicted to candy. No, but for real, it is no one’s fault but mine for being addicted to candy. I simply adore it.)

The only other way I learned how to eat the treat foods was to make myself feel better after a disappointment. But that’d always turn into a binge. Because that’s the only way to feel better, right? 

I used to laugh at the expression, but I was literally eating my feelings. I never learned how to navigate them, just ignore them and bury them deep covered in layers of treats and punishments. 

However, there is also so much I never learned. 

I never learned (despite all the health class book teachin’) to use food as fuel for my body instead of a reward or punishment system. 

I never learned to look for the correlation between the foods I felt and the way my body felt. Sure, I learned how food affected my brain plenty. Especially the shame centers. 

But I never learned to pay attention when I eat something and it makes me feel good. Or if I eat something and it makes me feel twitchy and itchy and like my skin wants to crawl offa my body. 

I never learned to pay attention to these things because when I did pay attention and speak up about them, I was taught to finish “everything on my plate because there are starving children and you should be so lucky that you’re forced to eat this.”

That’s when the sitting with wads of meat in my cheek for hours began. I was a stubborn kid. I did not like tough meat and if I was gonna suffer, so were you. 

80s parents were so het up on getting kids to bend to their will and obey, there was little room for growth and learning to love. And that makes me sad, not only for their kids, but for them too. 

Because it makes me wonder about all the things they had to relearn and teach themselves before choosing to bring forth another generation. And then on and on times infinity, because each generation is gonna be faced with something new that the previous generation didn’t have to deal with. 

I dunno, what can you do? Just take things as they come. 

I know that ever since I started my gross nutrition cubes and noticed what a difference they made in some of my body’s processes and my brain’s inner workings, I started paying attention to what foods make my whole body happiest. 

Gotta say, it’s still potatoes. 

 

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