A diet that’s restrictive by nature can make you question your relationship with food. I didn’t originally go on a gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free diet to lose weight. I was sick. These foods made me feel worse, so they had to be eliminated.
As time passed, my relationship with food became something that I wasn’t all too proud of. I got to college and immediately started to ruin my body with cheap vodka and sugary chasers and fried food and the worst dining hall bagels ever. I wanted to be normal and eat and drink like everyone else around me. Isn’t that what everyone wants - to feel normal? At the time, I was so stubbornly unable to realize that, hey, I have Crohn’s, and I will never be normal or like everyone else. It’s not something that will just magically ever go away and it sure as hell won’t go away if I’m treating my body poorly.
It took a series of a few unfortunate events for me to finally come to this realization, and when I did, I committed myself to making a serious change. I began to workout everyday, feeling like i needed to do hours of cardio to burn off the calories I ate. Apps like my fitness pal started to become popular and I began tracking what I ate. If I went over 1,500 calories in a day, I’d have to run. No excuses. Exercise was something that I honestly, truly enjoyed doing because I knew it was making me feel better. I could feel it. But, I also knew that it was making my relationship with food even worse.
From tracking what I ate for so long, the calorie counts for certain things are still so deeply engrained into my mind. One slice of gluten free bread is 200 cals; one large egg with the yolk is 70. This isn’t something that’s easy to forget. I’m still working on it.
I’d like to say that I’m better now, that I’ve stopped thinking about calories all together, that I workout just to feel good, not to offset the food I ate for the day. But, the truth is, we all have our off days. We’re all still working on ourselves.
Thanksgiving morning, I was joking around with my parents in the kitchen and said “today, calories don’t matter!”, to which my mom replied, “I don’t want to hear you say that”. And she’s right. Calories shouldn’t matter today or any day. What matters is the nutrients that you’re giving your body, the fuel that you’re giving it.
I can sit here and preach that I’m a master of intuitive eating and that I’ve got it all figured out, but who am I if I’m not being honest?
My relationship with food is ever-changing and constantly evolving. I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not sure if I ever will. What I do know is that I’m thankful for food. I’m even thankful for the food that I cannot it eat, for it’s taught me some of the most important life lessons. You can’t have it all, but you can appreciate what you do have.
A restrictive diet by nature can cause you to develop unhealthy thoughts and feelings about food, which it did for me. However, it can lead you to new ways of life that you never before thought possible. I can say that I’m on the path to the latter. I’m on my way, and I know I’ll get there.