Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Personal Struggles with Food

I remember the initial trigger that went off and resulted with me having an unhealthy relationship with food.  I was in the 8th grade sitting in my desk chair with my head down when suddenly, the teenage boy sitting next to me leaned over and grabbed my 2 inches of belly fat while smiling at me.  All I could think in my head was "Oh my gosh, I am fat.  People must think I am fat."  From that day forward, I started paying more attention to how I looked in pictures and how much I was eating at lunch.  Over the next couple months, I stopped packing my lunch and I stopped eating breakfast before school.  At lunch, I would purchase a bag of nacho cheese chips and a chocolate milk.  I started paying close attention to the amount of food I was putting in my mouth not caring if it was healthy or not.  I also began to closely watch the numbers on the scale.  The pounds started coming off of my 105 pound frame and by the end of the year I was down to nearly 85 pounds.  But I wasn't happy.  All I could think of was how I could avoid eating food and wishing my stomach wouldn't growl.  I remember wishing I could just sleep off my hunger so that I would not have to realize how hungry I was.  Then the comments from classmates started...."Your legs are so skinny.  You look anorexic."  I just got annoyed and continued to keep the control and willpower to not eat more than about 600-700 calories a day.  I hated the fact that I had to eat.  I didn't enjoy eating because I thought the food would just make me fat. 

Several months later, I went to a program sponsored at a local community college that was geared to women interested in science majors.  I couldn't focus on much of the presentations because I only ate a few bites of food the day before this program.  I purposely avoided food the day before the program because I knew in advance that Taco Bell would be served for lunch at the college campus.  On the day of the program, I felt faint when it got closer to lunch.  But all I grabbed to eat was one soft taco and I barely ate any of it.  I said to my friend who accompanied me that I wasn't hungry.  The program ended close to dinner time and I went home.  It was that evening that I nearly passed out in my kitchen while my parents were sitting and talking in the family room right next to me.  This was my secret, I thought.  No one could find out that I didn't eat enough.  The fear of me potentially passing out on my kitchen floor was enough to motivate me to shove as much food I could grab out of the food closet into my mouth as quickly as possible before my parents had to find me lying unconsciously on the floor.  It worked.  It was the fear of me nearly passing out that motivated me to start eating more. 

It took baby steps for me to force myself to put more food into my mouth but I slowly increased my calories by 100-200 per day.  I stopped menstruating and the doctor put me on birth control pills to restart my period. 

Over the next several years, I started to gain weight back, but I was also very conscious about my food choices.  By high school, I started cutting fat out of my diet and I ran 5 miles about 3 days per week.  The other days of the week I would workout to Kathy Smith exercise videos.  I used exercise to burn the calories I ate during the day.  I still didn't have a healthy relationship with food.  I didn't even know how to eat healthy.  I wanted to learn.  It was my motivation to find a healthy balance with food that led me to start a career in dietetics. 

I  knew I was finally on the right path to finding peace with my relationship to food as I listened to my college professors talk about homeostasis and equlibrium within the human body.  My passion to learn as much as I could about nutrition, health, and wellness soared.  Throughout my 7 years of college, I gradually learned how to make healthy food choices and live a healthy lifestyle.  I successfully completed a Bachelor's of Science degree and became a Registered Dietitian in the year of 2005. 

My motivation to learn about having a healthy lifestyle did not end in 2005.  It is now 2014, and I am still learning about all of the factors in our genetics, environment, and society that may effect our health and wellness.  Over the past 10 years, I have been providing medical nutrition therapy to patients that have diagnoses related to poor nutrition.  I have read journal articles and watched webinars, news reports and documentaries about health problems increasing vs. decreasing. 

My motivation has now shifted from finding a healthy balance with food to finding a healthy balance mentally, physically, and spiritually.  I believe that what we put into our bodies affects our mind, our body and soul as they all seem to be connected within the human body.  I also believe our genetics and environment play huge roles in how we live our lives.  In addition, we are all individuals with different wiring so-to-speak.  Motivators that trigger each of us to live healthier lifestyles will vary greatly. 

In conclusion, I will never stop learning about myself and the factors that trigger me to veer away from a balanced equilibrium state in my mind, body, and soul.  I am choosing to blog about nutrition, health, and wellness in an effort to have continued awareness of where I fall in the spectrum as well as to help others that may be struggling with finding their own healthy balance living in today's society.

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