I love food. I love to shop for food. I love to eat. I love the smell in the kitchen when I cook. I love having people over for a meal. I love the smell of hamburgers cooked on a charcoal grill. I love homemade bread. I love ice cream on a hot summer’s day. I love my Dad’s famous chili. There is so much I love about food.
But for me food became more than nurturing and satisfaction. It became more than a loving mother’s care: one who would feed me a delicious and healthy meal with a bit of a treat that I would eat with abandon and then leave the table running out to the excitement of life. Food became more.
It became my lover.
I thought about it. I made me feel good. I gave it super powers. It was there no matter what. It became the love I gave myself when I felt lonely. It was the indulgence I would give myself for a job well done. It was the treat I let myself have after a crappy day. It was the extra serving I gave myself when the world wasn’t living up to my hopes and expectations. It was always there when I was bored and needed something to do. My lover got me through many a day – until I saw it for what it was.
It was just there for a moment of happiness and then – poof – left me feeling terrible. It was there to tell me – it doesn’t matter – then it would leave and I realized it does matter. I finally felt used. I felt betrayed.
I left my lover.
Breaking up is really, really, really hard to do. I realized my love had to come from inside of me. Not outside. I have had to teach myself how to meet my needs without food. What does this nurturing look like? How do I love myself without my lover?
First I had to listen to my needs and my feelings. Then I had to learn to use my voice to ask for what I wanted. I had to learn to support myself. I had to learn to let myself feel all my feelings – even the ones I didn’t like. I had to become my own cheerleader. I had to learn to calm myself and be there for myself. I had to learn to accept myself in all my imperfection. This was so hard. This is still hard. I still work on it every day.
My best love comes when I can just be calm with myself just as I am. When I achieve this I feel like a superhero.
Sometimes I will go to the library and pick out a new book to read
Sometimes I give myself a pedicure with a fun nail polish color
Sometimes I take a nice, long hot bath until my skin pickles like when I was a kid
Sometimes I call a friend who will listen to me and not judge
Sometimes I take a walk and just notice nature in all its beauty
Sometimes I color a picture of my feelings – wild, crazy, mad, upset, etc.
Sometimes I journal
Sometimes I meditate
Sometimes I take a nap
Once I even had a pillow fight with a friend to help me get out my anger
Sometimes I just cry if I need to
Sometimes I rock myself in a rocking chair
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t given up on food. I still enjoy food. I still love a good soft caramel and Italian dinners on the north side in Boston. But now I understanding that nourishment and satisfaction from food are awesome but there are limits to what food can do for me.
Food can’t love me. Only I can love me.
written by Sarah Gold, MS, RD, LDN
Sarah Gold is an intuitive eater, dietitian, chocolate lover, and dog lover,