How wonderful to have balanced days of simply eating what I need: nothing more or less. My body feels fuelled and nurtured and food, for once, takes a back seat. But what about the times when I move from fridge to cupboard, looking for inspiration to make a meal or snack and conclude that I don’t feel entitled to eat anything? Or why not simply eat everything and be done with it? Now, (spoon in hand) where is the peanut butter?
I have traced this uncomfortable feeling of non-entitlement back to my long dieting history and it’s perfectionist spokesperson: Youdontwanttodothat. YDWTDT sucks her teeth and sighs a knowing sigh. She is long discarded but strangely ready to pop up at a moments’ notice to give me the “benefit” of her “wisdom”. Years of my life have been spent with YDWTDT considering the various merits of different food choices: calories, fat, carbs, sugars, portion size, forbidden, allowed……..so that I am utterly confused. My brain goes into overwhelm and YDWTDT pointedly comments “should you be eating ANYTHING at all?”
Then I’m back in the dieting days and the dieting ways. Desperately trying to contain my obviously insatiable appetite. Controlling my wild and untameable drive to EAT by imposing ridiculous limits and restrictions. Somehow feeling, with YDWTDT whispering in my ear, that the only way to stop myself becoming unhealthy again is by living on fresh air and possibly a squeeze of lemon in hot water and a plate of greens. Fear washes over me, and guess what? The conflict rages; I DO WANT TO DO THAT! Herein lies my starve/binge mentality.
This “all or nothing” mentality, this perfectionism, this fear of gaining weight and being unwell again; all stemming from my very first diet 46 years ago. My very first experience of restriction and control of a completely normal bodily desire: my hunger. The external voice of YDWTDT from the doctor: “better watch what she eats!” all those years ago became internalised as my close and constant companion.
So, am I entitled to eat? Hell yeah! Hand on my belly, I breathe into the discomfort. I pause to consider what has led me to the kitchen and whether I’m hungry or filling a void. YDWTDT would have me believe that I don’t know the difference. I do. I’m certain of one thing and I hope it reassures my body. I will never, ever, deprive myself of food again.