My Relationship with Food – From Then to Now
I have had an erratic and yes, oftentimes obsessive relationship with food. I can see in retrospect how it stemmed from my childhood and how it was later reinforced by America’s preoccupation with food and diet trends.
These were not-so-good teachers of the theory that “too much of anything is no good,” of moderation, or of the “listen to your body” method.
I grew up in the 60s, a time of the Beatles, Hippies and Twiggy. Some may remember the miniskirt and go-go boots. Twiggy was a bone thin model and being skinny became the goal for many young women. I wouldn’t be surprised if the heightened exposure of Twiggy contributed to the rising incidence of anorexia in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Then there was my mother’s cooking—which did not help me “fit” the “skinny” bill. I matured early, was fuller figured, hormonal and hungry. What a formula for my rapport with food! My mother was a fabulous cook. Her food was ethnic, rich and some of it quite healthy, but served in volumes. This stemmed from her childhood, as a daughter of immigrants and at the time of the Depression, when people stood in lines for food.
There was no such thing as one entree or one plate of food, especially during holidays. For me this meant many Jewish holidays plus Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties, all involving rich, sweet, fattening, delectable food and drink. Hence, this accounts for my propensity for large portions, even binging.
Over the next 53 years, there has been a boom in food of every kind along with diet programs. A few years ago, “Fat” was the enemy. That meant carbohydrates were ok. I never met a carb I didn’t like. So that permitted me to indulge in eating bagels and pasta. Some might remember fitness and nutritional guru Susan Powter screaming at us from the television screen, “Stop the Insanity!” During this time, I had a daughter whose role model was Britney “Belly Button” Spears. Alas, all her friends were baring their belly buttons while she struggled to fit in. As her mother, I only wanted her to be healthy. That wish fell on deaf ears.
In the past ten years, there has been an outright war on carbs (or as my cousin from New York pronounces it, “Cawbs”). Hollywood is devoid of carbs. “Carb” is a dirty word. Now, the focus is on protein and several permissible fats, or “blubber”—just like the hunters and gatherers. Steak, butter and chicken wings are in! The goal is “ketosis”—a state of fat burning. One can lose a lot of weight quickly. But the minute you go off the wagon and eat sugar and carbs, it piles back on.
I tried it and then the holidays came and poof, ketosis gone, pounds back. All of this rendered me confused and overwhelmed to the point where I just said “screw it.” I gave up. I pigged out on nuts, noodles, nachos and basically didn’t say “no” to any of the food groups.
I finally felt a camaraderie with the rest of Americans on a diet of sugar, fat and carbs. Actually, the promoted and processed sugars began to infiltrate the American diet in the 1950’s; it’s no wonder we have a huge health concern around obesity levels today. But as to my recent wagon falling incident, I must admit, it was fun.
This June, I turned 63 and it hit me. Not only did I see additional rolls in my tummy and hips, I also realized I was feeling sickly. I guess we all need to hit rock bottom to be open to change. Mourn the loss, rally and plan.
One week later, as if an angel was sent to me, I heard Oprah talk about her acquisition of Weight Watchers. Oprah spoke of “free” foods, 200 of them! I Googled the list and thought “wow.” It encompassed all fruits, including mangos, watermelon, grapes and bananas. What’s more, the once-forbidden foods like corn on the cob, beans, beets, salsa, eggs and chicken breast made the list.
Oprah faced her food demons for years right in front of us on television. She knew the love/hate relationship with food! She concluded that we could fill up on wonderful foods while simultaneously feeding ourselves—both literally and emotionally.
I have followed this mindset for month and a half. I’m at a weight that I would have cried about 10 years ago. If I lose much more, as a 60 something lady, my face will sag. So, I am happy. I am fitting into my summer clothes, I find myself enjoying the “free” foods while calmingly approaching all others without angst. I am lucky to have a palate for many of those free foods. Therefore, I am not promoting Weight Watchers as much as the goal to have a more realistic and sane relationship with food.
How has your relationship with food evolved over the years? I’d love to start a conversation!