I’m a recovering food hider.
In my former fat life, I would go through a drive-thru and pick up enough food to feed a family of 4. Literally. You know how it seems impossible to go to Taco Hell and eat more than $5 worth of tacos? I could throw down $15 there, easily. I would sit in my car in shame, often times in a vacant section of a parking lot where I thought no one would know me. I could eat mindlessly, finishing every last morsel of food that was sat patiently in its big bag on my passenger seat.
Hiding food wasn’t limited to the car, however. I could get a box of cookies and eat them when no one was home and hide the evidence. This is something my mom often did, although I wish she had been better about hiding it as I would always find the wrappers. Fig Newtons were her favorite (the entire container), followed by those pink-sugar-wafer-thingies (what is IN those things anyway?!) I liked Soft Batch cookies and Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion potato chips- an entire big bag.
At some point, hiding food just became difficult so I just ate. I would buy whatever, whenever, and just eat. I didn’t care anymore if pizza boxes stacked up or if my entire grocery cart was extremely unhealthy items like stuffed cheese bread, loads of chips, a box of donuts and ice cream. I didn’t even have the energy to keep the facade intact. I know I recently wrote about this nasty past of mine, but something today brought it back to light for me. It’s been about two years since I’ve practiced those behaviors. Reading those words I just typed make me so sick to my stomach. I couldn’t see the illness when I was in my stomach-filled haze. I never saw it as being dishonest with myself or with anyone else – no one ever monitored what I ate, why should I hide? Yet, hiding seemed like the right thing to do.
At the beginning of this journey, I followed a super low carb lifestyle. I liked it because it gave me very strict boundaries of what to eat and what not to eat. I also didn’t have to watch my portions much on things like steak, eggs, fish, etc so I could get my fill without worrying about calories. Back in January, I added carbs back to my life. I didn’t feel satisfied anymore with my food choices and really wanted to fuel my body (which by then was working out at least five times a week) with fruits, whole grains, oats, etc. I realized that I could lose weight without restricting myself so much, and it felt wonderful. I felt satisfied.
Since May, things have been slow-going – my consistency has been off. My workouts have been good, but I just realized today that I was hiding food again. This time, however, I was hiding it in plain sight, and from myself. I’ve dieted for so long that I know my portion sizes. I know rough calorie estimates of many foods, and have the resources available online to check for anything I’m not sure about. I’ve never liked counting calories, and after counting carbs for so long, I wanted to eat without always obsessing over if it was good or not. Some people I know have made great strides with intuitive eating. I would love to have that ability one day. At this moment in time and in my vast work-in-progress mode, I’m not there yet.
Instead, I’ve been unintentionally hiding food from myself. I would say that I’ve been doing great on my eating and exercise. I would think back to what I had to eat for the day and feel good. Nothing was particularly “naughty” (and I hate the idea of “good” versus “bad” foods) so I did good. I would selectively forget that I had 2 cups of rice instead of 1, coupled with 7 ounces of salmon instead of 4. I would eat 2 packs of oatmeal with twice the normal amount of almond butter. Little things that add up to major numbers. Even taking the numbers out of it, I realized I was reverting to old behaviors of the mindless eating and stuffing myself. I would read, tweet or watch TV while eating what would be deemed “good” foods. I didn’t realize how much I was putting into my mouth until I was done with my very large dinner plate realizing that I have no idea what that food really tasted like.
So, I’m doing what many people do: food tracking.
Can I tell you how much I LOATHE food tracking? I can remember having to write down everything I ate as early as age 11 when my child psychologist thought it might help me get rid of my weight problem. He even would let me use his monster computer to find the foods and enter them myself. Fast forward to years of bouncing up and down on the scale and many different “tracking” methods later, and I just got tired. Who wants to have to obsess and write down everything that goes into their mouth? Not I. I’m beginning to realize that I don’t have to track to see if I’m going over X amount of calories per day. The number for me isn’t important at this moment. The important part is just being honest with what goes into my mouth. I don’t need to restrict what I eat, I just need to be MINDFUL of what goes in. Maybe I can recognize behaviors in how I eat, and what foods I eat when i feel certain things. Or maybe it will just keep me present in the moment and realize what exactly I’m fueling my body with.
So, for now I track. This means I even tracked that fun size Butterfinger bar I ate from the front desk candy jar at work. No shame. It went in my body, and so it goes down onto the monitor. I’ve said in the past how much I don’t want to share exactly what I’m eating. In full disclosure though, to myself and to others, I’ve got it all public. Please realize that I’m not following any particular program, or say that what I’m eating will help you lose weight. I’m just eating what I feel like, and my documentation is just to keep a record. My primary tracking will be through MyFitnessPal, so if you’re there, feel free to friend me.
Coming out of hiding. Another not-so-fun step in this weight loss journey!