My girlfriend sat across from me at the coffee shop, a little frazzled I could tell. Her hair was wisping out of her top knot and winging out the sides, she checked her phone compulsively, almost nervously, and she needed a few minutes to warm up to eye contact. She’d been busy with a new job that had her working late nights at a restaurant, was stressed with personal stuff, and altogether felt unsettled.
I can always tell when she’s feeling a bit off, or just has a lot on her mind because the first words out of her mouth when we see each other sound kinda plastic. “I’m goooooood.” or “How ARE you?”, heavy on the vocal fry. I usually just mimic her tone back to her in a joking way, she realizes it, we laugh, and then we proceed to otherwise make fun of each other. It’s a loving and honest relationship.
We started to chat – the usual stuff. How have you been, what’s going on. She nestled a little more comfortably into her seat, and you could see her whole body language and energy shift as she started to feel more connected and grounded in the conversation.
She hadn’t wanted to go back to the restaurant industry, but as with so many of us, we simply need to do what’s gonna bring in the dollars while we work on our dreams…the dreams that will hopefully one day bring in the dollars.
She’s very familiar with my work, and the concept of “being weird with food”. She said to me at one point what I’ve had a lot of people say: They had no idea how weird they were with food until they’d actually been introduced to the term, and given examples. Then they’re like “hey, I do that sometimes“.
“One thing I noticed,” she told me “is that since I’ve been back working in the industry, I’ve started to be weird with food again . If I really feel like a sandwich, or a rice bowl, I’ll notice that voice pop up that tells me I should be eating a salad. It’s weird.”
We talked for a bit about how much stress she’s under, and how many things in her life were in a flux. She’d just moved house, had been going through a lot with her partner, and had also been having health issues.
When life is feeling out of control, one of the first things we tend to do is try and balance the control scales with food.
Sometimes it’s unconscious (our appetites naturally change when we’re dealing with stress), but in the case of so many of us who have had a funky relationship with food and dieting, it’s usually an attempt to grasp control in one area to make up for the loss of it in other areas.
“I was thinking though…” she said, “What’s the difference between just eating healthy and being weird with food. I mean, that voice that’s encouraging me to eat a salad when I want to eat a burger and fries…isn’t that just trying to help me make a healthy decision?”
My response: “It depends on the tone of that voice.”
A lot of us are so used to that voice – the one telling us to get our fat asses out of bed and to the gym, or that we don’t deserve salad dressing, or croutons, or dessert – that it just blends in to the noise in our heads. We don’t even notice it.
That voice is none other than The Diet Monster – social conditioning and old belief systems showing up as a bossy dialogue in your head.
So what’s the difference between eating healthy and being weird with food? Real quick…
“Diet Free” eating – healthy eating that’s NOT dieting – has three basic guidelines:
- Eat when you’re hungry (only when you’re hungry, and always when you’re hungry)
- Stop when you’re satisfied (only when you’re satisfied, and always when you’re satisfied)
- Eat food that makes you feel good (only food that feels good, and always food that feels good)
Being “weird with food”, then, could be simply defined as:
- Eating when you’re not hungry, or not eating when you are hungry
- Not stopping when you’re satisfied, or stopping short of being satisfied
- Eating food that makes you feel like crap
The next time that voice pipes up, tune in. Is it the voice of an over-controlling asshole trying to rule your life and make you acceptable to others, or is it the voice of reason, calm and loving, speaking with your best health and wellbeing in mind?
That’s the difference. And only you can tell.
To your peace.