On Sunday my family had a zoom call for my cousin’s birthday. During that call, the topic of Italy and how good the food was came up. We all started talking about how good the food was and another cousin of mine made a comment about how because you walk so much in Italy you don’t have to feel bad about what you eat. I didn’t think much of it at first, but later on at dinner I thought about what she said, “You don’t have to feel bad about it”. “Damn” I thought to myself, “When are we ever able to just enjoy life and not feel bad about something?” This got me thinking about my own relationship with food and how much progress I’ve made with it over the last few years.
Growing up, I was always the smallest kid in class. I was short and skinny, and unfortunately that meant that many people thought it was okay to make fun of how I looked. The fact that I was also vegetarian did not help my cause. After years of hearing things like “You’re so skinny you look like you’re going to break!” I developed a very weird relationship with food.
By the time I started high school, I had begun eating a ton of food because subconsciously I thought it would make people stop talking about my body, right? Spoiler: It did not work, people still always talked about how skinny I was. But then at the same time, I started worrying about how much I was eating and how many calories were in everything I ate. And a lot of the food I was eating gave me bad stomach aches and for a while, I thought that was completely normal.
This went on for years, eating a bunch of food, overthinking about what I had eaten, and more often than not, feeling physically sick and bloated after eating. I was about 20 when I finally decided that I was only going to listen to my body when it came to figuring out what I ate and how much of it I would eat. I had let others dictate for me what was appropriate for me in the hopes that I would be accepted and it was making me sick. It wasn’t an overnight fix, but for the next few years I worked on really listening to my body about food.
I’d remind myself to stop eating once I was full instead of overeating at every meal. I started eating the food that I felt good about eating and that made my body feel best. I realize now that I had veered away from eating healthy because in the past, I would get made fun of for it. It took about 2 or 3 years honestly to get to the place I am now with food, but it was so worth it.
Now, I eat the way that feels best for me. I don’t eat a ton of junk food, but when I do, I don’t worry about it. I don’t beat myself up when I eat fries and pizza for a week, I just enjoy the food. I eat mostly fruits and vegetables because that’s what makes my body feel its best. And the best part is that I feel good about all of it and I don’t feel the need to apologize about how I look or what I eat. My quality of life improved so much once I changed my relationship with food. I am what I am and it feels amazing!
Loving yourself and giving yourself a break are always important, but I think it is especially important this year. Take a moment this holiday season to listen to your body and love it. Eat what makes you feels good and eat as much or as little as you want of it. Life is about feeling good in our own skin, any other feelings are just a waste of time.
Happy Holidays and be safe!