Ending My Complicated Relationship With Food

Food and I have a love-hate relationship. Mainly love, I won’t lie. Nothing gets me going more than biting into a slice of watermelon and having the juice ooze down your chin, or the folded, glossy scrambled eggs in your fried breakfast after a night out. Food smells good and tastes good, and as we have to eat it three times a day there’s plenty of room for the good stuff. However, as with anything that has a constant presence in your life, food can also cause fear, guilt and obsessive behaviour. It has definitely caused each of those things for me over the past decade, but as I’ve ‘found myself’ (cringe, but we’re not talking Into The Wild so chill) in the past year or so, my relationship with food has improved steadily too.

I used to be an obsessive eater. I wouldn’t say that is the technical term, but I think it describes quite accurately the kind of relationship I had with eating. I thought about it all the time and was painfully indecisive about what I would eat depending on the factors I prioritised at the time; the number of calories, nutritional value, grams of sugar, you name it. I would eat hardly anything for breakfast and then think about all of the food I wanted to eat throughout the morning. I couldn’t understand why at the end of the day I’d find myself finishing a packet of biscuits I’d bought on my way home when I was so intent on losing weight. It’s wild to think that I genuinely thought I was healthy.

Weirdly, a couple of years ago it improved. I think it was caused by a huge upheaval in my life with my living situation, but without even trying, I forgot about the sugar cravings and realised a couple of months later that I’d managed to kick them. I think that was the biggest step for me, and since then I’ve been practicing integrating more naughty/syn/whatever foods into my cooking. Bring on the butter, cheese and roux sauce, friends, I’m all here for it.

However, last week my progress took a knock. I don’t like to admit it, but spending a whole day editing footage of my semi-naked body did not do my perception of myself any favours. You really do see everything, and the camera really does add those metaphorical ten pounds. It felt like all the progress I’d made over the past two years slipped away and I was reminded of how sweet self-loathing could taste. Think agave nectar, stevia substitute kind of sweet. The kind that doesn’t think she’s deserving of anything other than salad, and will spend minutes upon minutes by the fridges in Tesco trying to pick out the most nutritionally dense, high-fiber, low sugar option for lunch. I think you know the sinister sweet talk I’m talking about.

Food and body image are so intimately connected. When one slips, the other tends to plummet with it. It doesn’t matter how irrational those thoughts are, and how emotionally weighted they may be, they still come back to haunt me every so often. You can make the most progress, have the best outlook and have kicked your body dysmorphia into the ground and yet, and YET, due to societal standards of beauty, you’ll never fully let that sweetness go.

And you know what? It nearly knocked my progress. I booked a spin class, filled a basket full of vegetables in my local supermarket and avoided the treat aisles. I started looking at weight loss videos, a classic vice that accompanied my late night binges when I was eighteen which I’ve avoided ever since. However, I did something different this time: I spoke to my friends about how I was feeling after the edit. They were so supportive, dismissing my concerns instantly. Friends who had also had issues with their body image understood exactly where I was coming from so it was deeply reassuring to hear their perspectives. Then I re-followed some hardcore body-positive Instagram accounts – I know, bad to have unfollowed but sometimes I find the relentless positivity a bit jarring – and they clearly do help because gradually I’m starting to feel normal again. Mirrors are just mirrors, food is just sustenance and not the monster in my kitchen cupboard that it can become. I ate pancakes on pancake day, covered in glossy maple syrup and blueberries. Things are beginning to fall back into place, and I’m seeing food as the thing that I wake up for, the thing that my friends and I enjoy together, the thing shared between cultures and passed down from family to family. Food is a really beautiful thing.

So I’m making a commitment to myself this time around: I’m going to actively work on my relationship with food and my body. I’m going to work with my brain and come up with new ways to think about the two, and actually try and keep them separate for once. It’s about rewriting the subconscious narrative I think; Just because I ate an almond croissant doesn’t mean I need to get anxious and just because I have a back roll in a photo doesn’t mean I need to eat tofu stir fry for my next five dinners. I know I eat a balanced diet and I get at least three of my five a day so what’s the big stress? I’m going to try and see my body as a temple, a very clever temple that does things like clear out toxins for me and let me walk places without looking like the Going To The Store man. I’ll stop shitting on myself and start separating my body image worries from the food I eat. I think that’s a good place to start

Treats For Your Mouth

20 Comments

  1. February 14, 2018 / 3:14 pm

    Lovely post Lucy! I think your attitude is very normal and healthy- we all struggle and it’s tough to remain body positive when you just feel ick, unhealthy and like you’re slipping back into an old mindset.

    If it helps- that video of your valentines underwear made me realise how beautiful your figure was (considering I’ve pretty much only seen your head in videos!) keep going! You’re doing great 🙂

    Rach
    http://Www.gathertherosebuds.com

  2. February 14, 2018 / 3:29 pm

    I’ve been wanting to create a post on my relationship with food for the longest time but you seem to have taken the words right from me. It’s so strange to have such a complex relationship with something that is so vital for your survival and attempt to explain it but realising that everyone (to some extent) deals with the same has been a source of encouragement for me.

    Something that I have found immensely helped me and my relationship with food was turning vegetarian, it made me think more about what I was eating and encouraged me to substitute things I would usually end up craving much healthier alternatives. I remember a while ago you mentioned going vegan in a video, did you find that helped your food issues or did it fuel them? It’s really interesting to me to see how different people deal with the different changes in their diets! (sorry if that’s a bit too nosey!)

  3. February 14, 2018 / 3:32 pm

    Lucy, this was lovely. I really appreciate how honestly you talk about stuff like this – I’m sure it must be so comforting to so many. Go demolish those pancakes, girl.

    Lilly xoxo

  4. February 14, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    I remember when you had the videos up about this, i remember saving them to playlists and linking them to my friend, they were sad to see disappear. as much as i love the blog i think hearing it from a voice from a face with expressions is so much more poignant. i think with blogs we tend to leave out the grit and paint it pretty. i hate to not love everything but i guess i dont. idk i am glad your relationship with food is getting better though. im glad its becoming less of a stress. i support you i hope your day is lovely

  5. February 14, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    Coming from someone who used to google celebrities’ weights and obsess over them trying to make sure my body looked exactly like someone else’s body, I totally understand this love/hate relationship with food and body image in general. It is definitely hard and it does leave bruises but I am also thankful that over the years I am learning to accept my body and shape. Just wanted to say that while I totally understand how your newest video must have made you feel self-conscious as you were editing it as a viewer I was just so excited for you for being confident enough to create such a different but beautiful video. It gives me hope for my own self-confidence which I hope keeps growing a tiny bit more every day.
    – Marta

  6. February 14, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    Thank You for writing this Lucy, I’ve definitely been feeling like this recently too (I reckon the New Year New Me advertising for weight loss companies doesn’t help much!) and have been feeling really self-conscious and self-criticising of holiday weight and eating nice treats (I’m talking chocolate every day and the past 3 weekends of gin/wine-drinking and having a great time!) You’ve given me a nice little reminder that these things don’t make me a bad person – food is not the enemy and we shouldn’t beat ourselves over it!

    I’m glad you’re feeling better about things – the society standards pressurising this ‘ideal’ body size is so consuming, and hopefully us all together can make peace with our bodies and food and push these standards out!

    You’re a gorgeous gal Lucy – and smart and charismatic and kind and your body is beautiful!

    Daughter of An Air Hostess // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

  7. Lucy G
    February 14, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    Lovely post ! I think everybody, including myself, has their good and bad days, where one day you feel gorgeous and want to show the world your body confidence in some fab clothes, and the next you want to hide away in a massive hoodie and not eat anything between your vigorous workouts ! But that’s the normal cycle that people go through, and the aim should be to realise that you have the good days for a good reason- because you’re actually pretty damn beaut <3
    Love your videos + blog X

  8. Hope
    February 14, 2018 / 6:15 pm

    Awesome post. I have found myself in the exact same boat recently. I was living on my own for the past few months, but a month ago I moved back in with my family. On my own, I was able to eat however much (or little) I wanted to. Now, I have to act very differently because my family is around, though I still feel the same way. It has been this back and forth of thinking I don’t deserve to eat something “bad,” to being so incredibly hungry that I eat so much of it because it’s the first thing I can find. I want to lose weight because I have gained so much of it, but I just don’t quite know how to. Restricting calories is the only thing I know how to do. One thing that has really helped me is when you said in one of your videos “food is fuel.” I can’t tell you the amount of times I have repeated that to myself just so I can finish my dinner.

  9. Vi
    February 14, 2018 / 6:29 pm

    Great post! Really needed this right now xx

  10. February 14, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    This is a really good post and you can’t really understand the difficulties you had to overcome I the past. As a teenager myself and one that has struggled with body image issues I can’t relate with your previous experiencese in a very deep level. When I was in my late preteens I witnessed ahuge change in my body due to a medication and ever since then I have had a really though time when it comes to body positivity. But now, I am trying to be healthier. Despite the factory that I am in a better place right now I fear that I might be took hard on myself. I am not sure.

  11. February 14, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    coincidently exactly what i needed right now, so thank you x

  12. February 15, 2018 / 9:38 am

    Sorry to hear about the knock of confidence. I’ve been feeling the same for a little while now and it’s nice to hear someone else talk about it and then say that you are determined to beat the negative thoughts. Very inspiring and empowering!

  13. sianvadher
    February 15, 2018 / 12:24 pm

    This post oddly couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Only last night I found myself hours deep into ‘ get fit quick’ videos and ‘how to lose belly fat in just 30 days!!!’ and rather than leaving me feeling motivated, I found that I just felt worse, like the standards I was setting were too high and I’d never get the body I wanted. I’ve never had a particularly difficult relationship with food before just recently but my body confidence has never been where I’ve wanted it to be. I’ve just started my first year of college and coming straight out of secondary school where everyone was forced into the same ugly black skirt and white shirt and into this new world where everyone’s flashing the clothes that they want, the clothes that they seem to look great in but I would never dream of wearing because “my body just isn’t right”. I realise this is unfair and I’m going to do everything in my power to be able to stop this spiralling out of control. This post was really helpful as it showed that I wasn’t alone in this little struggle! Glad to see that you’re doing well <3

    – Sian
    (tracktotracknotetonote.WordPress.com)

  14. Mags
    February 15, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Hi Lucy, this post made me feel understand, in company, I’m struggling with the same love/hate relationship with food since I was a teenager. Reading your post and also comments let me realised that I’m not alone and more people live with ups and downs related with their link to food and body image.
    I totally feel and understand all the words you put in this post, it really help, thank you for your honesty and put into words something that’s no easy at all to admit.
    xx

  15. Rae
    February 17, 2018 / 2:28 am

    I’m dealing with a love/hate relationship with food as well. I love food. Too much. I eat too much and then I feel like complete shit cuz now I’m gaining weight. And I can’t seem to go on a healthy diet cuz of my extreme love for food. I used to be very confident in my own self but lately that’s all changed for reasons I can phathom. I feel so insecure and food doesn’t help. What shall I do?

  16. February 17, 2018 / 11:34 am

    I’ve been trying to stop boredom eating and I found it really helpful when I had healthy food in my house which I knew was specifically for eating when I get home and am hungry. Now I’ve gotten so much better at having a piece of toast with some almond butter rather than going straight for the biscuits xx

    http://www.flolavita.co.uk

  17. Hedda
    February 22, 2018 / 4:01 pm

    Thank you for once again giving words to the thoughts in my head. It makes me feel a lot less ashamed about having these thoughts. Beautiful post! I will definitely start following your blog

  18. February 24, 2018 / 6:58 am

    Thank you for this. I’m going through some shit right now but I don’t feel confident enough to tell anybody. I kinda struggle with the same issues but I’m a guy and I’m afraid people might laugh at me. It’s definitely reassuring knowing i’m not the only one (specially what you said about the bopo accounts. I also feel overwhelmed sometimes)

  19. Sophie Marie
    February 26, 2018 / 8:42 pm

    I can relate to this so much, especially at the moment. Sometimes you think you’re eating right, and you’re eating well and feel confident in your body; and I think in winter, because we’re always covered up you tend to feel better. Then one day you see a photo, or just have a good look in your knickers, and it really gets you down. And you just think, all that progress, I look like I’ve gained weight, how will I lose it. The truth is, people don’t notice that little extra weight you think you gained, and that everyone seems to go through these phases of “i feel good” “i feel fat”, and it is very very influenced by the societal idea of beauty. You are super strong for putting this out there on the internet, and I’m sure you’ve been met with nothing but the love you deserve in the comments. xxxx

  20. Kat Holmes
    May 28, 2018 / 12:37 am

    I am in absolute physical agony right now but needed you to hear I feeeeeeeel you!

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