A firm memory sticks in my mind as I being to write this. I had recently moved in with a new roommate a few years ago. She often had to work late and one night she came home, said she was in the mood for pizza, called the local pizza place for a delivery order, and ate her dinner while we watched TV together. I had gotten home earlier, gone to the gym, and made whatever dinner I had planned for that night; taking into account getting in all my macronutrients and having a balanced plate. While she was eating dinner, I was probably having my night snack of some low calorie ice cream. I literally sat in AWE watching her eat and enjoy that pizza, watching TV with not a care in the world. It struck me so hard that she was eating NORMALLY, not thinking about health in any way. She wanted pizza for dinner, so she ordered it and ate it. After having a couple of slices and dipping them in Ranch, she put the rest of the pizza back in the fridge and had the leftovers the next night for dinner or for lunch, I can’t remember.
My roommate was in no means unhealthy. She was in great shape, worked out when she could even though it was never her number one priority, and ate what she wanted, which included pizza, pasta, fried food, etc. along with salads, veggies, and smoothies. Quite honestly, she was in better shape than me and never had to “worry about her weight.” Why couldn’t I eat the way she did, happily and with no guilt ever associated with it?
To be honest, I do not quite know the answer to that question, but I know it started early on. I can remember the day when my relationship with food changed. I guess I started becoming “curvier” in eighth grade–not large by any means, just developing and no longer weighing under 90 pounds. My clothes were a little tighter (I probably shouldn’t have been wearing children’s clothes anymore) and my mom made a comment about how I shouldn’t have a bagel with melted cheese on it (low key this used to be one of my FAVORITE foods) for a snack–that that was more of a meal, not a snack between meals. From that point on, I decided I needed to lose weight. I began weighing myself, exercising, and watching what I ate (more on all of this later). No, I did not have an eating disorder, but I was conscious of what I put into my mouth and what I was doing.
Since then, I have almost always been conscious. Yes, this has backfired, and sometimes I would turn unconscious and eat an entire box of cookies on accident. But I have been aware of food and judged it before putting it into my mouth.
In the past year or so, I have learned the importance of balance and preached it to myself and others. I know that labeling food as “good” or “bad” will only backfire on me. If I really want something sweet, I have it and try to savor every bite and be done with it. I know that eating whole foods makes me feel good and junk will make me feel tired and sluggish. I have something for dessert most nights and usually try to make healthier versions of my favorite treats. I go out to dinner with friends and family and order what sounds good to me, but make an effort to choose something that will also make my body feel good.
But I will never be that girl who can eat greasy pizza without a care in the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve done too much research and become too interested in health to just suddenly forget every health fact and indulge without thinking about it. Maybe it’s because I’m not the type of person who is naturally slim and doesn’t gain weight. When I indulge a ton, my jeans become tight and I start feeling uncomfortable.
While I believe that becoming educated about health is a good thing 99% of the time (we are only given one body after all, it is our home and it’s important to know how to treat it right!), there is that small 1% that mourns the fact that I will never be totally carefree when it comes to eating. That when I eat a cookie, I will love every bite, but there will be still be that knowledge in the back of my head knowing that tons of sugar isn’t good for me. I fight these thoughts and still enjoy treats because I know that it’s part of LIFE and I want to enjoy life, but it’s still there.
I guess I will never be able to completely eat like a normal person. But I will continue pushing to listen to my body and enjoy life!