Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Food Obsession

Okay, so -- I wanted to post a blog about food obsession. I'm curious to know who else besides me has it.

I'm obsessed with food. Not in the way that I'll sit down and eat the entire contents of my fridge if I'm not on plan, though some people go through that. I've never thought of myself as a binge eater, but I can remember the days when I could order chinese and plow through a pu pu platter, egg drop soup, and an entire order of pad thai. Or order a pizza and eat it all in one sitting. The term "binge eating" never really occurred to me.

I also am not obsessed in the way a bulemic person is, where I eat for the pleasure of it in mass bingeing quantities, and then purge myself so I can do it all again. Nor am I obsessed in the way anorexics can be, limiting myself to a very low number of calories, cutting my food into tiny pieces so it takes longer to eat, and making each meal a ritual.

But, I'm obsessed in probably every other way. I do obsess over the amount of calories I consume. Though it's not my keeping it at 500 calories or less, it's 1400 calories or less. I cringe when I go out to eat because I have no idea how the meal is prepared, and I try to look up nutritional information before I go out so I can choose the lowest calorie option.

I watch movies and television... and I always notice what people are eating. I go to the food court with Dan and watch people and what they order. Skinny people ordering six inch, respectable sub sandwiches, and heavy people ordering pizza, fries, burgers and other "bad" stuff. (Of course, that's not accurate. It's just what I notice when I'm looking through my diet eyes.)

I get really jealous when I see people who are thin, fit, slender, whathaveyou who eat whatever they want. I get jealous when I see people who are on "diets" and have a "cheat day." I get really pissed at Michael Phelps because of his 15,000 calorie diet. Though I'm not jealous of his swimming schedule... just the pure thought of eating all that food and remaining hot makes me think it has to be worth it. It also makes me question whether food and diet can really be 80% of the battle.

I log everything I consume faithfully into my spreadsheets and MyPlate at I strive for each meal to be as close to 40/30/30 as possible. (40% good carb, 30% fat, 30% protein), or trying to exceed that protein in lieu of fat. I analyze everything I'm eating to make sure it's the healthiest, best option possible. And I do NOT have a "cheat" day. I don't even have a "cheat meal." I don't believe in that. Not right now, at least. I can't have one day of the week where I can eat whatever I want. It'll throw my whole game off balance. And I know when I lost weight on Atkins, I got skinny and thought, "Ooh, good! I can have cheesecake now, I'm hot!" And it all went downhill from there. As far as I see it, for myself, a commitment is a commitment, and I can't achieve my goals without it.

I cook non stop, and have more dishes to wash than I ever thought possible. I struggle to find measuring cups and measuring spoons because I use them every time I make a meal.

I no longer eat the following: White bread, refined sugar, baked goods, ice cream, white noodles, white rice (except for sushi on occasion), regular soda, fast food, fries, any milk other than 1% or skim, chips.

I scoff haughtily at the line I see at the drive through, thinking "Those people are eating so badly" even though myself, I was doing the same thing less than three months ago.

The food obsession can make me feel exhausted, pathetic, desperate, and hopeless sometimes. Other times it makes me feel happy, in control and successful. Sometimes it makes me feel downright full of myself.

I look forward to the ever-balanced day where food is just food. When food is merely fuel, and I mix the types to make the best, ultimate, premium fuel for my premium, muscle building, fat burning furnace of a body.



Diana Swallow said...

I'm right there in the food obsessed corner but I was the person who would binge eat and hide food. Now I'm the person who is analyzing every morsel. I always loved going out to dinner but not any more because I hate giving up that control.

Citycat said...

I feel a lot like this, but only when I am dieting. Once I start counting calories, it's a downhill trip for me. Suddenly I am obsessed not just with calories but sodium and nutrients and whole foods and what is a "sprouted food" and maybe I should be eating that. I start worrying about eating low sugar instant oats because maybe I should be eating old fashioned oats. Never watch "You Are What You Eat." I feel like I need to eat everything organic and natural and whole and perfect and it becomes my life, not just a lifestyle.

When I am not dieting, I have no food issues. I eat pizza and crave salad. I think that's why when I lost weight before I had to do it on South Beach. No calorie counting and no forbidden foods. I am type A and crazy, and the more I make food an issue the more it becomes one.

Hanlie said...

I'm probably going to come across as a little preachy, but this insight may help you...

We must never envy people who can eat what they want and not gain weight. Our ability to gain weight is a blessing... It tells us that we are eating unhealthy foods and that our bodies are not happy. People who don't get that warning are worse off, because they have no incentive to change their lifestyle to include healthier foods and exercise.

Look at it this way. You have a radio and you hear that you need to evacuate your home because there's a flood coming. Thus you save not only your life, but as much of your possessions as you can. The person who doesn't gain weight has no radio and doesn't hear the evacuation order. They drown! Of course, if you hear the evacuation order and you don't evacuate, you also drown!

I've looked at what Michael Phelps eat and it's junk! His swimming schedule will not protect him in the long run from the damage that he's doing to his body by eating that way.

You can not be successful on this journey, at least not permanently, if you don't see the so-called foods that we all crave for what they really are - agents of disease. The best thing you can do is to be grateful to your body for warning you that you're on the wrong path, and set it on the right path for life.

End of sermon! I may do a post about this...

Cheryl said...

I found myself getting food obsessed when I was doing WW. I ended up quitting because it got so ridiculous. Now, I just try to stay away from overly processed foods and fast food. At our house we grill most of the time (benefit of living in SWFL) and eat mostly steamed or raw veggies, and whole grain breads. I also get those frozen biscuits where you can just cook a couple at a time. I feel better having cut out fat-free this and lowfat that, because they have to be processed to be that way. My only vice is Splenda, which I use in my decaffeinated iced tea.

cs said...

I think this is my favorite post of yours so far. I was thinking the EXACT thing about Michael yesterday. I remember doing sports in high school/university and eating massive amounts of fast food being skinny as a rail, and wished I could still eat like Michael these days. I don’t know if it’s possible to get to the point where you aren’t food obsessed and still be maintaining your weight. If you have lost weight it is always in the back of your mind that if you aren’t careful it could all come back…

"4 oz" said...

Well said! I admire that you won't allow yourself to have a cheat day. That is still a struggle for me, but I hope I can overcome it!

Ria said...

I just found your blog via a mention of it in a comment on Hanlie's blog. Great work so far, and great post.

I am food obsessed in very much the same way you describe, and I really enjoyed a post on the "concentrated" blog, on the subject. In case you aren't familiar with it, here is a link . . . enjoy!

Abrunz said...

I think that you have come to an understanding that was long in the making. You have begun to care about your intake in a much more pronounced way, and (with this, as with all others) there is no zealot like a convert. I think that, through time and use, this way of looking at food, of analyzing it and measuring it, will become both second nature and unconscious. It will probably also slack off a little, and you will find yourself with "cheat days". Into every life a little pie must fall.

Abrunz said...

Another little bit, just to share:

I just got back from a week in the field, spent doing all kinds of interesting Army things (mainly hiking around the woods all day with heavy items, every now and again running up hills while shooting). Our days would start at 5:30am with some light PT, then about 8 hours of hiking / running with gear. We finished it out with a nice 10 mile road march (16 min / mile pace, about 60lbs ruck, plus ammo, weapon, gear, etc. all told, about 75-100lbs of gear). WE subsist on MRE's:

I don't recommend the experience, but I have lost about 5 pounds over the week. If all else fails.... hehe.

katnc24 said...

Yes, completely! I've been thin. I miss the way I felt, the way I looked, the way people treated me. I just started a weight management program and I can't/don't cheat. I feel like I have failed if I don't do everything perfectly and counting has consumed my life. I just want to be confident, carefree, and healthy again.

Anonymous said...

"Bulimics eat for the pleasure of it and purge just so that they can do it all again"? Fuck you. Seriously. Fuck you. I don't normally use that kind of language, but what you said is completely stupid. You think bulimics ENJOY binging? Or actually PLAN binge/purge cycles? Bulimics want to be in control of their eating but end up spiraling out of control and end up in insane binges. They feel nothing but anger and fear and panic and complete and utter DISGUST when doing so, and vomiting can be anything from relieving to disgusting to physically painful. They do not WANT to do it all over again - there's no choice in the matter. That's why it's considered an ILLNESS. Purging is the way to erase their mistakes, not to pave the road for continuation. Fuck you.

... Ok, so I've calmed down a little, so now I can be a bit kinder. Be careful. I know I was harsh above, but please take care. An obsession with food, calories, measuring cups, and not seeing food as food is how most or all eating disorders start out. Feeling exhausted and desperate about it, while still having moments of being 'in control' and 'happy' is also typical of eating disorders. I know this was posted four years ago, but still, I hope you're a bit better or have gotten counseling or something. Though you obviously don't know what eating disorders are actually like, I hope you don't find out the hard way.

Jenn said...

Whoa, doggie. Fair enough, sorry to have offended you so tremendously. It was written a long time ago and wasn't meant to be an expose' on eating disorders. That paragraph was not well thought out. Apologies.