A Key for Eating with Joy
If you read last week’s post, you may remember that I like to eat ice cream—without distractions—to fully appreciate the sheer delight the experience gives me. I must admit that “sheer delight” didn’t always describe my relationship with frozen desserts; “sheer terror” is more like it. The year was 1983. I was a magna cum laude graduate with a degree in nutrition and had full faith in the scientific hysteria of the day—FAT IS BAD. Sadly, this trend lasted for years. A plethora of new food brands emerged to help zealots like myself be “healthy” while snacking. Do you remember Snackwell Cookies? (Count yourself lucky if you don’t.) Sure, they were awful, but at least they were low-fat! Sadly, the smug satisfaction that I got from zealously following the food laws of the day could never stand up to the fact that full-fat foods tasted better. (This is what we like to call #truth.) Unfortunately, the tension that this created for me was (at times) hard to bear.
One day this tension exploded in what I now call “the incident.” The crime scene was unknowingly set up by my (then) new husband, who came home with (what I remember to be) a 5-gallon tub of Schwans Rocky Road ice cream. Jeff proudly recounted how he chased down the Schwans ice cream truck—a childhood favorite— which he spotted driving around in our hometown of San Antonio, Texas. His eyes shone as he reminisced about eating this ice cream brand as a boy in his home state of Michigan! “I can’t believe it’s here in Texas! I just had to get you some.” Bless him. Although I didn’t tell him that rocky road was not my absolute favorite flavor, he knew that I loved “bits” in my ice cream (and all the better if those bits are marshmallows!) 😋
Having a 5-gallon tub of ice cream in the freezer did not exactly did not mesh with my fat-free diet ideal. The whole situation was made even worse because Schwan’s ice cream was an unusually crafty brand. This sneaky ice cream actually knew my name(!) and it insisted on calling out to me just as I was making my way to the cabinets for a crunchy piece of cardboard to snack on. Night after night, it beckoned, relentlessly taunting me with the promise of silky smooth chocolate interspersed with chocolate chips and marshmallows. After five nights in a row of giving into temptation with a guilty bowl full, I had no choice but to silence Mr. Rocky Road for good. With determination (and not a small amount of sadness), I set this giant container under hot running water until all that was left of it was a pile of half-melted chocolate chips that were covered in marshmallow slime. The whole ordeal might have quietly gone away if Jeff hadn’t walked into the kitchen at that exact moment. I’m sure he thought I was nuts, and to be honest, at this point, I had to agree with him.
What I didn’t realize at the time, the problem was not with Mr. Rocky Road, it was with me. I had come into agreement with lies about food (fat is bad) and lies about myself (I’m bad when I eat fat), which led to the even more twisted conclusion that my self-worth was somehow based on what I ate and how I looked. Sheesh! What kind of nonsense is this? Sadly, dear readers, these kinds of nonsensical lies are still being sown today. The only difference is that carbs, or dairy, or ____fill in the blank, are the villains of our current age. Repeat after me: “The devil is a liar.”
“The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life [and ice cream] (my words) and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
If you can relate to this post in any way, even if only because you feel guilty eating certain foods, I want you to know freedom is possible. It may take time to get there—healing is a process, not an event—but I encourage you not to give up. If you are ready to kick food guilt out of your life, take one step towards that goal today. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Stop telling yourself you “can’t control yourself” with ___food. Your words have power (Prov 18:21)
Avoid labeling food “good” or “bad.” Do you know that if you only ate “good” broccoli, you would actually be very unhealthy?
Refuse to allow guilt and shame to take up residence in your head when you decide to eat “fun” food. If you allow yourself to partner with guilt after eating a piece of cake, you’ll never learn how to truly enjoy your food and be satisfied.
Eat with awareness. (You will hear me say this A LOT). How are you supposed to know when you’ve had enough to eat or if you are even enjoying what you are eating if you are checked out?
I realize that some of these suggestions are easier said than done, so be patient with yourself. I will discuss this topic in more detail in future posts, so stay tuned! As always, I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below.
Low fat diets were the worst!
Very sound advise. Looking forward to your next post
Thank you Penny!
Oy, this is certainly relatable. Food has always been so troubling for me — sometimes to the point that I can’t eat in front of people.
Thanks for the great read, my friend! 🙂
Thank you for your transparency Danielle! You are a role model for us all. Being open about what’s going on is the first step to getting freedom in this area. I’m glad you’re part of this community. ❤️
This part has been a journey that I am now sort of getting a handle on it. 2 years ago I really started taking my health a little more seriously as I wanted to get of certain meds. It’s been a rollercoaster and I’m sort of just starting to go longer period of time with out the up or sudden drop that meant binge eating “good or bad” foods. Now it’s just food. If I have a craving I will try to eat what my body is craving and having practice at being present has meant that I can sit an enjoy whatever it is I’m eating. It’s still a struggle because changing the language takes time but I have faith I will get there. I’m also unlearning learned or passed down from family, culture, society, etc. eating behaviors. I’m in therapy because I learned that food or binging in general not necessarily food, in my family was used for coping instead of dealing with the issues. That’s something I want to change and not pass down to other generations. Thank you Jeanie for this and support.
Thank you for sharing your journey Steffany! I love that you recognize change is a process. Patterns of behavior get passed down through generations until someone decides to forge a different path. You are doing just that! Once you stop using food to cope, you get to actually deal with the real issues that eating covered over. That’s a win-win for you! God bless you!
So good! I always remember you telling me about awareness when eating food, its takes a lot for me to sit and let my body register that its getting fuel. You have talked about labelling food good and bad before. Its so hard with the kids because they just want to eat rubbish…
You are not alone, Christine! So many of us rush around without pausing to acknowledge we are eating. I wonder if it would be helpful to prioritize at least one meal a day where you tune in and be present while eating. Take the time to notice how the food tastes and feels in your body. See if you can pinpoint exactly when you’ve had enough to eat. It’s a fun exercise to learn what your body enjoys and needs.
With the kids, consider using the terms “grow” foods and “fun” foods with them. Grow foods are nutrient-dense foods that help their bodies grow and feel good. “Fun” foods are fun to eat, but they don’t have a lot of what the body needs to grow and be healthy. Fun foods, while not bad (because who doesn’t want to have fun sometimes?), shouldn’t take the place of “grow” foods. They are a fun addition. Hope that helps!
Thanks for your comment!