healing my relationship with food

Brunchin with Blondie is a place for positive food relationships. This blog post is not for everyone – please skip this post if these words will cause you negative thoughts or emotions.

Let’s start from the beginning, Welcome, MN.

I grew up in a farming community on butter, sugar, red meat, and bread. Thankfully, Instagram didn’t exist until I was a sophomore in high school and at that time we were putting cool filters on pictures and the whole “aesthetic” thing wasn’t important. As I went through grade school and high school, I never had a poor relationship with food. I ate when and what I wanted – hamburgers, spaghetti, steak, tater tot hotdish, and chocolate chip cookies. Those items were on the menu weekly. I believed food was food. I was lucky enough to grow up around a positive food environment. Unfortunately, that only lasted so long. 

I started college with a positive mindset both on food and my body. I was confident and content in my own skin and didn’t have any desire to change it. But as we know.. freshman year comes with new eating habits -> goodbye moms cooking, less movement -> goodbye sports, and more drinking -> hello vodka lemonade. I gained roughly ten pounds give or take and that’s when you would think things would have gone south with my body and food relationship…

However, I quite happy and content. Quite frankly, I made it through my entire undergrad with a positive relationship with food. Sure, I tried to eat “healthier”, aka limit my vodka lemonades and my late night post-drinking pizza orders. I also was more disciplined with moving my body but I never said no to food I just was more aware of my decisions. These little changes had resulted in me feeling better on the inside and that what was important to me.

I then started my professional career and continued to eat “healthier” and made food decisions that would fuel my body for 10+ hour workday. Those foods mostly consisted of salads, yogurt bowls, overnight oats and really anything I could eat straight out of the fridge – the microwave was a long haul from my office.

I had a good routine until..

Hello 2020 and hello the COVID-19 pandemic. My job changed, I was working long days, doing the opposite of what my job responsibilities were, and the uncertainty of the future made me so incredibly anxious on a day to day basis. Like the rest of the world, I needed something to look forward to or at least something to busy my mind.

To distract myself from my job and the pandemic I decided to do a fitness and nutrition challenge. I found this health and fitness challenge on Instagram, it consisted of counting macronutrients and completing 6 workouts a week. The challenge was a total of 4-weeks, four very intense weeks.

The challenge was surprisingly good for me in the beginning. It allowed me to focus on something else and control something when the world was so unpredictable. However, the dietary restrictions were extreme. I was eating less than 40 grams of fat a day, tons of protein and limited carbohydrates. During the time frame I would measure my vegetables to make sure I wasn’t going over on my carbs, yes, my vegetables. I weighed out my brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, green beans, you name it, I weighed it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good challenge. I enjoy working hard and putting myself through difficult tasks but this challenge changed the way I looked at food, which was not the intent.

I no longer looked at an avocado as being a healthy fat but I now looked at it as 21 grams of fat which was more than half I had allotted for, for the entire day. Instead of having the avocado, I chose foods with low fat which meant my hormones were all over the place. The foods that were lower in fat were commonly the ones that were processed like a protein bar. During the 4-weeks, I learned A LOT. I learned the importance of upping my protein and my carbohydrates. As well as the importance of building a balanced plate. I made it through the challenge with a new outlook on nutrition. However, that outlook wasn’t all positive.

Towards the end of the challenge I was cut and lean but also unhappy and irritable. I assumed when I achieved that “look” and “goal” that I would also be happier but that wasn’t the case. I still was anxious, irritable, and on edge. I slowly started to get back to eating for me and not for tracking. Unfortunately, the numbers that were ingrained in my brain the last 4 weeks didn’t allow me to do that.

I limited bread, avocados, cheese, dairy in general, and bananas for months following the challenge. Since I was strictly tracking for the last four weeks – berries were the only acceptable fruit due to their lower carbohydrate count. I would stay away from apples, bananas, or other types of high carbohydrate fruit.

Making the adjustment to eating these foods again was difficult. It takes time and patience to get over the mental game. A game that still comes up from time to time.

As of today, January 28th, I am still navigating the numbers that was before controlling what I put on my plate. I am still healing my relationship with foods that were deemed as having “too many” grams of fat or carbohydrates. I will continue to work on it, I will continue to surround myself with people that remind me that food is food. Avocados are nourishing. Chocolate is nourishing. Remove the numbers. You are in control. 

What has helped me (& continues to help) overcome the tracking / diet / poor relationship with food: 

  • Eat foods that I am / was scared of eating 
    • Avocados, bread, peanut butter, bananas 
  • Choose to fuel my body with foods that make me feel good 
  • Look at foods as nourishing versus looking at them as numbers 
  • Remember to function you need to eat
  • Journal – write things down / express how you feel 
  • Unfollow or mute people on social media that trigger negative food thoughts 
  • Start small – this relationship will not heal in a day 
  • Start your day off on the right foot – breakfast baby!!! Click here for some inspo!
    • And no.. coffee is not breakfast
  • Tell yourself daily that you deserve food. You deserve to eat. You deserve to enjoy foods that you love. You deserve to feel satisfied. 

Also, please remember this is only my experience. Others have great results from counting macronutrients, calories etc. The experience still taught me aspects of food that I am grateful for. To me, every negative or positive experience teaches you something – it’s just our job to learn from it.

Reach out with questions or just to chat through some of these tips!

  1. Molly Klima says:

    Absolutely love posts like this! You go girl!

  2. Laurie says:

    Wow!! Great article!! Thanks for sharing and so true!!

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