Friday, April 4, 2014

Foodie Confessions...

So, since this is a food blog, I sort of feel compelled to report on all the parts of my life touched by food. Goodness knows, I love me some food. If you've met me, the food-lovin' evidence is pretty clear. I'm big(ish) and beautiful, for sure. I'm a size twelve, I do yoga about four times a week, and I skate regularly.
My and my niece, Christmas the Giant Bunny
I've spent my entire adult life having, like lots of other folks, a complex relationship with food. I love it. I hate it. I think about it a lot. It's my solace, my friend. It's my worst enemy some days. It's a great creative outlet. It's my addiction.

People in our country don't want to hear about food addiction. I've heard it said that it is less shameful in America to have a heroin addiction than it is to be fat. I've seen my own students express sympathy for an alcoholic in one moment and, in the next breath, express distain for a overweight individual, not seeing any similarity between the two. However, research has shown that some elements of food can trigger a similar response in the brain that opiates do. That sucks a lot if you have an addictive personality.

I never really understood why drug addicts and alcoholics couldn't "suck it up" and "exert some will power" regarding their addictions until I found myself binging on fast food in my car week after week about seven years ago. Immediately, self-loathing would set in, and I would promise on everything sacred that it was the last time I would hide out and overeat. I'd never do it again. Less than twelve hours later (sometimes more like two), I'd find myself back in the same place, hating, hating, hating the food and myself and everyone and everything while I ate.  I was worse than any drunk who just can't stay away from the bar.

Food is super weird. You can't quit it cold turkey. You can't avoid places that serve it. If you have struggles with it, you still have to deal with it every day, multiple times a day.

Around Christmas time that year, I just couldn't take it anymore. I was researching food addiction on the Internet when I came across the website for Overeaters Anonymous. I stumbled into my very first Twelve-Step meeting a few days later, sobbing that no one was going to love my fat ass ever again, and I fell into the best place I've ever been. The last seven years have been up and down for me with my food issues, but I've made some progress, and I've never, ever felt as miserable and alone again as I did that Christmas.
I know a lot of folks are skeptical about food addiction. Even more are skeptical of Twelve Step programs. I'm not here to lecture about the validity of either. They're real to me, but everyone else has to make an individual judgment call. I'm not even here to get on my soap box about body image and American culture, though God knows someone desperately needs to. I just really want to speak to other people like me out there. If you feel hopeless, helpless, utterly disgusting and out of control (and this applies to anorexics and bulimics as well), you're not alone. There are a lot of folks out there just like you, and there are many places you can go for help and support.

I'm going to keep writing about food, some of it healthy and some of it decadent, because it gives me pleasure to do so. But please know that people who seem to joyfully relate to food don't necessarily do so easily, and not all people who struggle with weight are just lazy. I guess I really just want to say that if you have a less-than-healthy relationship with food, I get it.

I swear I will finish the kimchi post soon. It was damn good.