Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know wut yer gonna get

Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know wut yer gonna get

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Love Hate Relationship with Food

When I was young I loved to eat.  Cookies, cakes, ice cream, anything sweet was best.  I don't think there were many foods I would not eat.  My Mom cooked beef tongue once, and venison liver once...I would not eat those.  But, to be fair, I tasted them.  My Mom was not a good cook, so it might have been her.  I don't know which was the problem.  My grandmothers were excellent cooks; both creating tasty treats and meals extraordinaire!  Gravies and sauces thick with cream and butter were the name of the game.    When we stayed with my mother's mother - my Grandmother, we often went to potlucks with her groups - the VFW ladies and her church ladies. Such a variety of delectable goodies.  I was a happy girl.  Almost every photograph of me as a child shows me holding a cookie or some other piece of food.  My father's mother - my Grandma, had plans of opening a restaurant one day with her friend Ina.  It never happened, but she was always prepared to do so.  Sunday dinners at Grandma and Grandpa's house were many courses of well prepared European delights.  Grandpa was a butcher and they both had some German heritage, and many of the cold cuts (charcuterie) were the best in the state.  We always had the best cuts of meat.

That all sounds pretty good, eh?  For the best part it was, however, I was born a large person.  9 and a half pounds and about 18 inches long, I was a chubby baby.  My mother was able to leave the hospital three days after my birth, wearing the travelling suit she wore on her honeymoon about a year before.  My Dad was so proud of her.  She was a beauty and her body and health were very important to her.  When she was pregnant she was diagnosed as pre eclamptic and she was admitted to the hospital early so that she could lose weight and they could be careful of her blood pressure.  She was in a ward with women who were much heavier than she.  She told me they were fed extremely little and very bare foods with no sauce or flavoring.  She craved donuts while she was there and was so happy when I was born and she could eat again.  It looked as though her baby had taken all her calories and stored them as fat, because my mom was quite small after my birth.  I was not a breast fed baby.  In the 1950's hospitals were afraid of staph infections and discouraged breast feeding.  And, honestly, it would seem like I (fat baby) was eating her (thin mommy) alive.

That said, I was fed nonfat milk and healthy balanced meals, with attention given to not over eating.  I was healthy chubby and very strong.  I was a happy little person who was loved and felt properly accepted in her family.  When my sister Gigi was born I was two years old.  When Sigrid was born I was four and when Jill was born I was seven.  None of my sisters were chubby, nor did they have a passion for eating as I had.  As I grew it seemed I was always hungry.  

I do not know when it started - the people telling me - "you'd be so pretty if only you were not so fat", and the "such a pretty face if only...".   I heard those so many times in my life, I could probably travel to the moon on that many feet.  And, eventually, I was "fatty, fats, chubby, husky, cow, elephant", etc.  None of it stopped me from eating.  In fact, I began sneaking food, stealing food, and eating it in some hidden place.  

Some people nowadays think that fat people have been raised on fast food and that is the main problem; that people are not knowledgeable of nutrition and health.  Perhaps it is true of some, however - it was not so in my case.  We didn't go to fast food restaurants until I was in middle school, the late 60's/early 70's.  I was about 12 years old...just in time for puberty.  When that delicious form of food was introduced I was hooked.  I loved Burger King, McDonald's and Taco Bell.  I did not know that the reason for its tastiness was extra fat, sugar and salt; and I don't know if I would have cared at that age. It was consumed so rarely that the unhealthiness was ignored, When Mom decided to try drinking soda pop at home, it was Diet Tab and then Diet Fresca.  Always "Diet", never "regular' soda pop in our home.  Consumption was strictly monitored.  And, if I remember correctly, we didn't have it around until I was in high school, sometime in the early 1970's.

Many changes occurred 1968 to 1972.  Puberty, Grandmother's death,  a major emotional devolvement with my parents and my place in the family.  Apparently I was not helping the family by trying to take care of things for mom and dad.  It disrupt everyone and made trouble for all.  My sisters hated me and my folks told me to stop 'loving' them, my Grandmother (my confidante) had died and I had no best friend because of the politic of girls on the block.  I wasn't good enough, I didn't know why really.  Perhaps it was the saddle shoes I had to wear when everyone else had gone to other styles.  Perhaps it was my chubbiness, or my homemade clothes. I was alone.  Alone with the feelings of a person growing up, discovering so many different feelings in herself that were not explained, not supported.  Happy little girl quickly turned into depressed little girl.  Social anxiety and depression were my constant companions.  I did not know it at the time, but I also had obsessive compulsive disorder.  (Learning that recently helps explain many feelings).  I had many bad thoughts because of OCD.  I thought I was an evil person, a bad person.  My family told me so.  I could not make friends well.  That told me so.  I was just a B student, nothing special.  

What made me feel good in junior high school were the giant sticky buns that the cafeteria ladies made - hot, sweet and gooey, along with a steamy styrofoam cup of hot chocolate on a cold L.A. morning before classes.  And then, at nutrition - Nacho Doritos and Dr. Pepper.  An allowance well spent.  I don't remember what was for lunch, probably a sandwich of some sort.    I can still remember the smile that food gave me.  The happiness was not long lasting, but it was intense.  I think this was the first time food was my ally.

During high school and young womanhood I was always dieting.  The grapefruit and hamburger patty diet, the all vegetable and grain diet, the mostly meat diet, the Snickers diet, weight watchers diet, diet pills, Jack la Lane, Gloria Marshall, dance classes...there are more, but you get the picture.  

They all work - for awhile.  I was never more than 20 pounds over weight until I was pregnant in my mid twenties.  Then I blossomed.  I gained 80 pounds in my first pregnancy.  I was pre eclamptic and admitted to the hospital early for observation.  I was put on bed rest, where my mother in law (another wonderful cook) fed me.  Midwestern comfort food is so tasty.  And so fattening.  After the baby, I was able to lose all the weight I gained with exercise and diet.  Richard Simmons tapes helped me alot.  I love Richard Simmons.  His kindness always inspired me.  

I got down to a healthy weight and got pregnant again and gained about 70 pounds.  The weight loss happened the same as before...but I did not get quite as low.  I walked and walked with my children and I was strong, but still heavy.  I took classes at the junior college - dance classes, weight lifting classes...and I was strong - but still 'husky'.I got pregnant again and gained 80 pounds - to the heaviest I have ever been - 250 pounds.  The child was born with anomalies and died at 4 months old.  There was no diet for awhile.  

And then my husband was injured.  I realized I would have to go to work and perhaps be the strong one for awhile.  So I dieted.  (Because I knew that people like to hire pretty people, healthy people, and strong people) "The Diet Center Diet" was the best diet I've ever used.  It was healthy, balanced and the counselors helped me to stay motivated.  Eventually I came to work for the company, selling weight loss.  I got down to my smallest adult size then.  Size 6.  I was about 35 years old I think.  

When I was small I received so many compliments, stares, congratulations ... and it made me happy and then it made me mad.  Suddenly I was wonderful because I was pretty in people's eyes. That made me so angry.  It still does.  My "beauty" was dependant upon my size.  Again. 

I feel as though I am not a whole person because I am not pretty at my current 225 pounds.  Hardly anyone bothers to look at me.  When I go shopping with my sister in law (5 years younger than me) I am referred to as her mother.  I do not feel happy with myself and therefore I can make others feel bad too.  The thought of going on another diet is boring and hateful.  In the evenings, when my idea machine is working its best, I think of all sorts of things I can do...and then morning comes and the same old life, same old feelings of inadequacy loom before me.

There are many many stories left out of this post.  Basically I love to eat good food with other people who like to eat good food.  I hate eating with people who judge every bite I take, or the content of my plate.  During those times, I'd rather not eat.  I am a horrid cook, and getting worse.  One time a man looked me up and down and said that I must be a good cooker.  I was confused for a tiny moment and then I laughed and told him that I was not.  Then he was confused.  Really?  If you are fat it is because you are a good cook?  I'd never considered that before.

Many of the foods that I eat that keep me overweight are not foods that I like.  The calories I consume at lunches out with my friends are not enough to keep me here in the 200 pound zone. Part of the problem is depression, the unwillingness to take possession of my life and get up off the couch.  Go for a walk...just for fun.  Maybe take the dogs on an outing.  Instead I go wrestle a few pieces of bread out of their wrapper, smear them with butter, peanut butter, honey or jam (or maybe all together) and devour them in two or three bites; giving my esophagus something to choke on while I mentally cry as I stare out the window.  (or the closet wall...wherever...)  I go to the market and purchase what I think we need for dinner and buy 2? fresh donuts (or cookies, or...?) and eat them before I get home.  I store stashes of sweets around the house.  Sometimes I forget and find them later.  It's like Christmas!  

I try to not have my husband see me eat.  Especially the treats.  I know it upsets him. My son gives me stern talking to's about taking care of myself.  My daughter commiserates with me about food cravings and related fattie ideas and the psychology of it all.  I've been to a counselor/therapist and a psychiatrist for many years. Not always about food, but food is always related to whatever the thing I am talking about is. I've tried to lose weight biblically....worst thing ever!  Well, once it was the worst.  Once it worked okay.  Christianity and guilt go together in my mind... a whole spider web of disease there. 

Now, at 59 years old and 225 pounds at 5'7" tall, I need to lose weight to live.  Pretty is gone.  If I want to live, I need to lose the fat that surrounds and encompasses my internal organs, my heart feels a constant squeeze, especially if my asthmatic lungs are shortened and swollen, the fat that droops off of my weak muscles and piles on my belly is another hurdle, another obstacle that makes life difficult.  Merely moving is effort.  Breathing is effort.  I know what needs to be done.  I know how to do it.  I have known most of my life.  Can you imagine waking up every morning of your life and thinking - "God, I am so ugly...I am so fat"?  I wait...and I wait...for what?  Death? I've gambled with my health and the timing of the ultimate diseases...and I think, no I BELIEVE I've met the line.  If I go beyond this line I will lose the bet. 

 If I give up on this - weight loss- it is the same as giving up on life.  I take pills for high blood pressure, thyroid and depression/OCD.  These things are managed with the medicines but I am not a healthy person. Why is there no magic pill for weight loss?  Well, there sorta is, but it hurts my heart.  Ack!  I hate writing this!

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