Food is Bae.

This entry has been a swirling thought of mine for a few weeks now. So, pardon me while I brain dump, exhale, and maybe even inspire your own self-reflection. Today's contemplation: my food relationship. (Foodlationship?) Without prying open my last 3 journals, I'm going to carefully discuss my love life. Bare with me; it will be relevant. I'm sure you're all well aware of my story, but for those who are dropping by for the first time, here are the Cliff Notes. I grew up overweight, and puberty in particular was my nightmare. My own insecurities combined with years of bullying formed a massive self-esteem tumor. I wanted to feel comfortable in my skin. I wanted to feel beautiful just the way that I was. But, I was sick in both my body and my spirit. You can imagine the toll on my "love life." I didn't have one. I asked platonic friends to prom because nobody asked me as a date. I didn't even feel comfortable pursuing men or going on a date until I was 21. After that date, I cried because I wasn't interested in the guy & I felt like a terrible person because of it. Who was I to reject someone? I should be grateful anyone appreciated me at all. It took years of unwinding knots, reversing thoughts, practicing affirmations & taking care of my health - but I prevailed. My successful physical transformation is my happy ending sundae, but my confidence is the cherry on top. I think I'm beautiful, and I never felt that I deserved to say that. This has given me even more initiative to throw myself into the shark tank that is millennium dating. And, yet, I find myself an old soul trying to align my generation's Rubix cube. So far, my love life in 2016 has been a mystification. 2015 was spent staring at a door that was just never meant to open. This year, I seem to be living the poorer version of Sex and the City, but the males MUST exit stage left abruptly; not even a 3 episode package for these actors. I'll spare the details, but I've had a handful of "wait...........what?" experiences over the past few months. And now: to the point of this entry. Growing up, food was my love. My favorite day of the week was when we'd get some sort of takeout or go to a restaurant as a family. When I tried to lose weight as a teenager, I would make ridiculous, blind attempts at the Atkins and South Beach diets. Of course I'd fail, and I'd eat a giant bowl of cereal with a "Why bother?" mentality. I worked in a family restaurant that gave me free reign of eating monstrous ice cream sundaes if I was given a lunch break. Like, "Here's a reward for all of your hard work." I loved food, and - regardless of what the boys were saying about me - food loved me just the way I was. Obviously, I've reversed those habits since then. But, even though my connection with food is much different, I'm not sure I've separated the emotional ties to it. Paralelled to my love life, this year has also been my year to change things up nutritionally. It's almost like a hobby for me to figure out how to turn vegetables into pancakes. I'm constantly gathering information, reading books, pinning on Pinterest. I am in a place where I no longer crave fast food regularly, because I know how I physically feel after I eat it. But, I have always loved food and have never dieted successfully. I take pride in making healthy recipes that do not taste like cardboard. So, it's my secret joy to unlock the possibilities of healthy cupcakes and Paleo pizzas. I didn't realize how much the two correlated until a date bailed on me last week. My first thought after getting the text was, "Well, at least I can meal prep tonight." App dating + living in a city where everyone instinctively hates everyone else - the time anyone is willing to spend on a connection = I'm making out with peanut butter. But, this how we've always operated. Emotions need their comfort foods: Let's prep the party snacks & finger foods for the football game. Let's have a dinner after a funeral to enjoy each other's company post-remorse. Let's celebrate just about anything with cake. I'm not slandering these practices, as I enjoy get togethers and I clearly enjoy food. But, when culturally engrained, a lonely woman will turn to food for love. I say this because I've lived it. "Food is not love. Food is fuel." This is my affirmation when I find myself using food solely as a pick-me-up. I have repeated this affirmation to myself on countless occasions. Food is not love. But, food isn't totally the enemy, either. I will be the first to admit that I have my weekly cheat days reserved for foods that I can't stop daydreaming about. I accept my binge days, I learn from them, I move forward & make better choices. My hero in all aspects of life, Chalene Johnson, has also contemplated this topic. She says, "Random eating and severely restricting food is often used as a distraction from other issues or thoughts. However, these thoughts are what really need to be addressed. Seeking professional help to deal with emotional needs and past traumas is a big step in having a healthier relationship with food. Making this transition from being on a diet to having a diet and a healthy relationship with food is totally possible. It’s just a matter of educating yourself and deciding to form better habits." That being said, counseling has been a big part of my own development & you shouldn't be shy about it. There's only so much self-healing you can do, and an outside set of eyes will do wonders. So, single ladies, put down the Ben & Jerry's. Whatever it is you're going through, you're not alone. You're beautiful. You've got this. QUOTE OF THE DAY “Life itself is the proper binge.” - Julia Child

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