Friday, November 3, 2017

Food Struggles

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.


Food is a frenemy of mine.

My relationship with food goes far beyond comfort, love, or hate. It's a complex beast, wild and chaotic. Food is shame, rush, art, creation, emptiness, a consolation prize. Sometimes it's the rainbow after a torrential rain. Sometimes it's the rain.

I'm not entirely to blame for this. Family and society did their part, and I have yet to be able to entirely get over it. I can't escape the voices that guilt me over every piece of chocolate I try to enjoy, but I can't stop feeling absolutely elated every time I make a dish I see other people thoroughly enjoy. It's a fucker of a thing loving to cook, loving the art of creating a good recipe, but hating myself for finding solace in the way it tastes.

There is no peace in food, no real comfort without destruction, and it's been that way for most of my life. I wasn't really a big kid until I was maybe 10. I had to wear a bra before then but hormonal body changes made me a little pudgy. Every day at school I walked during p.e. Most days after school I walked around the block at my grandma's to get more exercise. I needed it, she said. I needed to be on a diet, she said. I was fat, my dad would laugh. Fatty, fatty 2x4; can't get through the bathroom door...






And so began the complex. My dad died without ever having so much as a half-compliment about how I looked even at my thinnest (which, let's be clear, was never really thin by society's standards given my genes) when I took diet pills and purged and dieted until I made myself sick. I still can't be around my grandmother without waiting for that word, "diet," to trigger a bout of depression and disordered eating. I can't be around her period to be honest. Family or not the damage done is too much to salvage a relationship with someone who was only ever hypercritical, who expected a child to parent her alcoholic, coke-addicted father at 14 and still manage to fit in a size 2 dress.

None of my family was ever thin. So why was I the butt of the joke?

Add to that I didn't grow up in a time when body acceptance was the movement it is today. I didn't have fat icons to look up to. Fat women were always portrayed as gross, desperate, sad, lazy, void of anything worthy. And I internalized the fuck out of those images. It was hard not to when everything I heard at home confirmed them, and I was picked on at school for it just as much. "Fat dyke" was the pretty consistent mantra I heard shuffling hallways to class, and "lardass" or "crisco" followed it at home. Food takes on so much negativity when every bite you take is scrutinized, and a lifetime of relearning can't fully break it.

It's not so simple as whether food makes me happy or unhappy. An umami bomb hitting my tastebuds is likely to give me a rush in the moment, but the blowback shame I feel for letting myself enjoy it muddies the waters. But so few things can match the joy I feel when I taste-test a dish I'm working on in the kitchen and know I nailed it, took a bare bones recipe and made it mine or started out with some random idea I had in the shower and actually brought it to fruition. How do you balance those two worlds--one where creating food is everything and one where enjoying the taste of it can never happen without shame?

It's a war in all honesty. I could wave the white flag and give in to the darkness at any time, but my worth is not my weight. My size is not a problem. And having a damn candy bar shouldn't cause a meltdown. Every meal is no longer a battle (depending on other stresses) which is an improvement, but I can't kid myself into thinking it will be over anytime soon. So, every day I lay on the armor and work on facing those demons head-on. I may lose a fight or two, but this victory will be mine. One day.


Here are the links to the other submissions:

Baking In A Tornado

Cognitive Script

The Blogging 911

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles

Southern Belle Charm

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Part-time Working Hockey Mom



  1. I am so sorry you've been tormented into this relationship with food. I really hope that you continue to find joy in the creativity and successes you've found in the kitchen.

  2. Dear Jenniy, I don't even know what to say. I do hope you'll find a way to enjoy your culinary creations without the negative companions. You deserve to be happy! ♥

  3. That's the problem we ALL feel like that. Families, well meaning people, kids at school and torn little chunks off of us every day. It truly is an epidemic and it has got to stop. I had four brothers and my dad who used to say the exact thing to me. Everyone in the house would be eating ice cream I would be the only one called out. "You'll never get a husband you keep eating all of that shit." Starve myself in front of everyone and gorge hiding in my room. My mom lives with me now and so it continues.

  4. I have a love/hate relationship with food right now too. I'm sorry it's been such a struggle for you.