Eating is hard normally. Life is busy, and the easiest and quickest food to make that is also tasty is usually highly calorie-dense. While I should bake some chicken and broccoli for myself, some pizza takes so much less effort and taste so much better.
This gets worse during social distance. The food that is best for long stays is full of preservatives.
Also, I’m a comfort eater. Food made me feel loved when all I felt was hate and rejection. Now that I feel very distant from my ordinary life, food is an easy way to soothe myself. I’m also recovering from a bad PTSD episode.
Food may not solve my problems overall, but it sure blunts them for a few minutes. No matter how depressed I felt, a blueberry muffin made me escape the pain for a few minutes.
It got me thinking about an amazing book I read called “The Elephant in the Room” by Tommy Tomlinson, one of the two best books I’ve read in the last five years.
In it, Tommy discusses his own battle with food, and the way it makes him feel. He asks himself why he feels the need to eat the food he knows is very bad for his health. A brilliant raconteur and writer, Tommy delves into his own psyche and comes to a startling idea about what food symbolizes for himself.
For me, food symbolizes discipline and the adult world. Kids can have junk food and snacks but as adults, we need to know better and choose better. But adulthood feels so sucky. Childhood is pleasant and full of endless possibilities. Adulthood is responsibilities and dreams becoming smaller and realistic. Junk food takes me back to an easier, simpler, happier time when I felt I could be the next JK Rowling, instead of a lawyer in a Covid-19 epidemic.
Still, it’s time to grow up. I read a great quote from the brilliant Matthew Bates’s writing on Quora. He quotes a wellness class where he was told “You are not a dog. Do not reward yourself with food.” It hit me that was what the book was telling me.
I’m not a child or a dog. I’m an adult woman and I need to treat myself accordingly. It’s less fun in many ways, but it gets better once I start taking my rewards that are appropriate to who I am.
I started with an accomplishment. I have a picture of one of the happiest days of the last year on my phone, my 850th class of Krav Maga. My friends and teachers are next to me, so proud of me. I wouldn’t trade that moment of accomplishment and camaraderie for all the apple pies in the USA.
What if I had to choose? I could enjoy doughnuts and pizza and French Fries, or I could be the person I see in the picture, whose joy comes from hard work and courage?
I had a funny thought a while ago that I brought out now. What if every time I ate badly, someone I loved stubbed a toe?
I’d never touch another sugary sweet again.
So, why do I hurt them by hurting myself?
So, during Covid-19 confinement, I am going to learn how to be happy in a mature way, without food as my crutch.
I have so much more to be happy about, waiting for me to emerge from social isolation.