People that know me know that I have an interest in tasty and healthy real food. I read a lot about how different foods can be used as medicine and about the different food trends of today. I really enjoy reading about and cooking things from scratch verses buying pre-made items. While I don’t think anything is wrong with me enjoying these things, I have an unhealthy relationship with food at times and that is something I don’t typically share with others.
There’s a few reasons why I like to keep this hidden. One major reason is that if I’m discovered then I will look like a hypocrite. I will look like a weak failure that doesn’t completely and always practice the things I say are important. So, I hide my “failures”. I sneak in my “guilty pleasures”. Then I hide my shame and guilt for what I’ve done. Well, I say I hide this stuff but the symptoms manifest themselves loudly and affect not only me but those around me also.
I have done different cycles of fad diets and diets where I avoided eating certain things in hopes of making myself feel better. Some of this was a recommended trial by my doctor and some of it was just from my own advice. Again, I’m not saying it was a bad thing for me to eliminate certain things, and I strongly believe that there are very unhealthy things in our food that I would recommend avoiding as much as possible. I think for me though, I was not allowing myself any freedom. Because of my rules, at times I am not even experiencing the things I enjoy. I do not always tell myself that I can avoid unhealthy ingredients as much as possible. A lot of times it is all or nothing in my mind. Then I fail. I eat something from my no-no list and immediately the shame kicks in. How could I expect to help others with healthy diet choices if I can’t do it myself? When I “cheat”, I usually continue to “cheat” the rest of the day. I will overeat and eat as many of my no-no foods as possible. I mean I had already failed, right?!?! But here’s the kicker: I do most of my “cheating” in private. I sneak most of it so no one sees me fail. I feel like an imposter.
Keeping things hidden only fuels the shame and guilt. It keeps the cycle going. The symptoms of shame and guilt build. Then the hidden “cheating” just grows until I’m completely miserable. What’s next? You guessed it, many days of not “cheating” to make up for it. So I feel better now, right? WRONG! The cycle just starts again.
The only way to break the cycle is to stop the hiding and bring these things out into the light. Usually I talk with my husband, Neil, after I feel completely miserable. Usually he’s sensed that something is not right with me. He has noticed that I avoid intimacy with him, weigh myself more, am very irritable and am usually complaining about my stomach hurting! So, while I may be hiding what I am doing, I am not hiding the effects it has on me.
Not allowing things to be hidden anymore does not mean that I will never fall into this pattern again. It does mean that I know the power to break the cycle when I do. Not hiding actually allows me the freedom to do what I would tell others to do, “listen to your body, enjoy food & make healthy choices as much as possible, but when you can’t or don’t it’s okay to enjoy that to”. It’s freedom…freedom to fail and freedom to experience the things I love.
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