“Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it’s about knowing who you are. It’s about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can’t have it. (p. 163)”
― Geneen Roth, Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything
I have been reading a lot lately about food addiction. I wanted to explore my relationship with food, as I have always thought that it was pretty unhealthy (my relationship with it, not food in general.) The more I have been reading, the more I have begun to realize that while I do have issues with food, I’m not completely delusional, it’s not really as bad as I think.
I am what I would consider to be a Foodie. I know big surprise the fat girl likes food. But being a Foodie is about more then just liking food. It is about appreciating quality food, quality ingredients, being aware of how things are prepared, trying out new and different restaurants/food experiences. This is what makes me a foodie, not just the fact that I can eat a lot. I will point out that not all Foodies are overweight (in fact most aren’t), and not all overweight people are foodies.
According to the questions on the Food Addicts Anonymous website, I am definitely a food addict. I have poor impulse control when it comes to certain foods, especially sugar; I eat in secret; I am ashamed of my weight; I am embarrassed to eat in public…the list goes on. I have always known this about myself, but I will admit it is very hard to actually look at the questions and realize that you can answer yes to almost all of them.
I often wonder where this comes from, this addiction to food. Is it the same dis-ease (yes I purposely hyphenated the word) that causes me to drink too much, to smoke too much? Is it hereditary? My sister seems to have a relatively sane relationship with food, although like all of us Crozier’s she has a sweet tooth. Though hers seems to be less pronounced then some of ours, or maybe she just has more will power. My father, although he doesn’t always make the healthiest choices and eats a lot of sugar, doesn’t eat all that much. When we go out for Indian food as a family he and my sister often share a dish, while I will have my own. So it’s not nurture-based, I didn’t grow up in a family of overeaters.
I have also been reading a lot about insulin and resistance and some common complaints by women who are diagnosed with it. Many of them mimic food addiction:
- Frequent hunger and after eating don’t feel full for long
- Constant craving for sweets or other (refined) carbs – often feel can’t be trusted around them
- Irritability if go too long without eating
- Severe intolerance to low-calorie/low-carb diets
While nobody knows whether these symptoms are the cause or result of insulin resistance, the connection is interesting to me. It makes me wonder if some of my food addiction behaviours will lessen just as a result of getting my insulin levels under control.
Although I do overeat, and definitely eat way too much sugar, I really do have a healthy respect for food. I appreciate it’s power to fuel our bodies, to heal us, to nurture our spirits. And this is where the Foodie part of me conflicts with the food addict.
I love to cook. It is really one of my favourite things to do. I often think I probably should have been a chef. I will often look up recipes, just to get the basic idea of ingredients and seasoning, and then I will experiment and play with it. Sometimes, I will just cook without any recipe at all, just start adding ingredients and tasting as I go until I discover a flavour that I think works (this is how I created my turkey/veggie chili).
In fact that has been one of my favourite parts of this whole journey, discovering new ingredients, new flavours, new tastes. The world of food and cooking is amazing adventure, all you need is time, patience and the love of experimenting. I enjoy trying new restaurants, or new food events around the city. I love going to farmer’s markets and exploring. Seeing what is fresh, what is in season and what great deal’s I can get. I am, right now, counting down rather impatiently for the opening of my local Farmer’s market in May.
So, the challenge now becomes, how do I incorporate my love and appreciate for food (my Foodie nature) with my new lifestyle changes with regards to what and how much I eat (food addict/PCOS nature)? I really don’t want to lose that side of me in this process of changing my eating habits, because it really does define a part of me. Cooking and experimenting with food helps to feed my spirit. And the more I read, the more I realize that it will also help to heal my body. Not just in the obvious way of eating less sugar will help to restore my insulin resistance to normal levels, but also there are certain food that can help with hormone imbalance, moods, muscle tension, etc…
Which is why I have decided to expand the parameters of this blog, kind of. Not only am I going to look at and discuss the emotional side of this journey, but I am going to explore and discuss how and what foods are helping to relieve my physical symptoms. My hope is that by exploring both I can relieve myself of the unhealthy parts of my relationship with food by helping the healthy parts to grow and flourish.