Monday, July 16, 2012

Addiction + Compulsion = Love Letter?

Look how excited I am about the impending food!
I love food. I love pretty much everything about it (except for the calories, which we'll get to later.) I love eating food. Exploring it creatively with new recipes. Talking ideas with fellow foodies. Embarrassing friends by taking pictures of food in fancy restaurants. I feel cheated if a friend’s Facebook photos of a vacation doesn’t include a good gallery of food.

But when is a good pleasure too much? I love food...a little too much. Planning what I’m going to eat next. Obsessing and feeling guilty about what I’ve already eaten. Mindless binge eating to cope with stress or find comfort in sadness. I can secretly scarf down an entire box of ___ (insert whatever I’m eating, mostly junky, sometimes healthy but still in excess).

I have for years identified as a food addict. When I openly confess it, most laugh it off and chalk it up to my foodie-ness. But I don’t use the word “addiction” lightly. This isn't a laughing a matter for me. The role that food plays in my life and just how extensively it controls me is no joke. When I do experience small victories of resisting temptation, I’m amazed at just how much intentionality, prayer, and planning it takes to win one small resistance. It feels like a constant war.

I’ve warded off the consequences of my binges with another compulsive behaviour – what I’ve now come to recognize as exercise bulimia. As a teen taking in a steady diet of fashion magazines, I did read the occasional article on eating disorders. I knew I wasn’t anorexic. And I wasn’t bulimic, because I had clearly never made myself throw up to reverse a binge. Instead I would wake at 6am to exercise secretly in the basement to purge the calories. To this day I still work to be aware of my motivations before working out.

The war between the binging and purging takes its toll on my body. I trash talk my body all the time. Mostly my criticism is heavy with “you’re not good enough,” which is a broken record that plays in other areas too.

I know that one of the steps to lasting change is to replace the old with the new. And while I’m still primarily in the stage of weeding out the roots of my food habits, I know I must also begin visualizing a different way of thinking.

I started journaling some thoughts to my body awhile ago. Then SheLoves challenged us with a writing prompt to write a love letter to your body. And another blog I read today dared us to take more risks. Well this qualifies as scary for me. 

But after reading all the bold honesty in the flood of blog posts of beautiful, breath-taking, inspiring love letters, I can't not do it. These women from all ends of the spectrum (from “Body, I still hate you,” to “Body, I love and embrace you,”) give me courage and hope for the journey ahead.

So let’s start the conversation, shall we? "Dear Body of mine..."

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