Today’s post is brought to you by one of friends, Jon, although I can’t remember the last time I called him Jon. Baka is how I’ve known this sarcastic and cynical long time buddy of mine. Baka blogs over at Day Old Doughnuts, which is probably the furthest thing from a fitness blog out there, but I love reading his blog for a) support, b) a good laugh (or sometimes a head shake in disbelief), and c) because Baka really is a good writer. As long as you have a sense of humor and don’t take offense to some of the things he writes, that is!
**Disclaimer: If you are sensitive about binge eating and/or addiction, this may be a post to skip over for today. I do not find either of these topics funny.**
My Unhealthy, Unrequited Love
I love fried chicken. You know what goes great with that? Ranch dressing. You know what goes great with both of those? Indigestion, an ever-growing gut, and a shame cycle that’s entirely too depressing. I’m not trying to judge, I’m just being entirely honest. I’m not a health expert, or even someone who regularly eats well. But as I get older, my awful eating habits are catching up to me. I knew people who started eating healthier in high school and college. I honestly laughed at them. It’s Friday night at 1am, if you think we’re getting salads instead of Dominoes, then you are bat shit crazy. Now finish your shot of 151, and knock off this health food crap. Cinnastix will be here in 20 minutes.
I used to think that fast food addiction was a joke. I am now entirely convinced that sadly, I am the joke. Somewhere along the line when people started ditching their daily pizza, chicken fingers, and fries for yogurt, spinach, and grilled veggies, my thought process did change. While I knew I was slow to react, I at least appreciated the effort of others to start improving their diet. The effort of others. My own effort consisted of telling myself that I should start eating healthier. That, and working on complex mental gymnastics to avoid taking better care of myself and allowing for gorging myself on anything coming from drive-thrus, take out counters, and microwaves. I would eat healthier, but I don’t have the time, or the money, or I don’t how to cook it. If only there was a magical contraption that allowed us to search for healthy recipes, to research the best foods to eat or avoid, or even a way to do this on a budget. If only this was a possibility… wait a minute, how is everyone reading this post again?
I’ve always found myself to be pretty self-aware. I understand how the tide has changed in society. People are more educated about what they are putting into their body, and that’s a great thing. I’m personally more educated on these topics than ever before. But it sure is strange that I could be so self-aware and informed, yet still find empty bags of Wendy’s/BK/McDonald’s/etc. on the floor of my car. (Ladies, ladies, you can stop lining up for dates now, I’m taken). You’ll even find an occasional bag of Chick-Fil-A there. I personally find their political views to be deplorable and against everything I stand for. Yet, there it is on the floor with the rest of them. If you’re willing to sell out your beliefs for something as awful as over-fried, over-processed food, can you still deny that it’s an addiction? If you are so embarrassed about what you are eating on your lunch break that you’re dining in your car, something has to be wrong here right?
You have to fight against it. For you, it may be not giving into peer pressure like you’re at an 8th grade slumber party. For me, it’s fighting my own desire to consume vast quantities of unhealthy food like I’m…well, at an 8th grade slumber party. (Doritos and Nintendo 64 anyone? No?). But you have to do what’s right. For your brain and your body. It seems obvious, but when you use unhealthy food as crutch to deal with stress and unhappiness, the challenge gets worse. I’m not lecturing, I’m confessing. Recently, I have been quite depressed. Unsatisfied with work, among others things in my personal life, I spend many days just counting the minutes and trying to get through each day, latching onto whatever small tokens of happiness I can find. It’s incredible easy to get trapped this way. You go for the quick fix, that greasy, fatty friend (demon) that’s been there your whole life. Sometimes, you even get a little boost just looking through the menu. And yeah, upon the first bites into that buffalo finger and potato skin sampler you may have a brief moment of food bliss. But you then you keep eating. And eating. And then you feel goddamn terrible for the rest of the work day.
Later, you can’t get through a good workout because your bloated stomach full of indigestible food makes it difficult to move, let alone break a real sweat. You leave the gym having burned 200 calories if you’re lucky. Your lunch, still sitting in your belly like an unfortunate rat inside a once hungry snake, was 8 times more calories than you just used up. It’s disheartening. It’s a recurring uphill battle against food that is terrible for you, food that won’t make your life any better, and you know it. You’re sick of sneaking into the conference room to place your order because you are embarrassed of what you’re eating. You’re sick of not fitting into your dress pants comfortably and seriously debating how bad it might look if you got caught unbuttoning that top button for a little breathing room. You’re just plain sick of feeling, well…sick. But you don’t stop. You can’t stop. Because you’re an addict.
You think you love these foods, but after a while it doesn’t even make you temporarily happy. Not even for the 10 minutes you take to scarf it down. Not even when you saw that supposedly delicious burger on a commercial the night before and you have been thinking about it for 12 straight hours. And it’s not just the guilt turning your food sour. The novelty wears off when you eat it every day. Sure, sometimes you’re hung-over on Saturday morning and you’re just craving something greasy and bad for you. But nothing in your body is craving that type of fat intake on a daily basis, and your brain is mostly smart enough to get any real kick out of it after prolonged exposure. But you just keep doing it, because somewhere in your brain (your past associations, your comfort of routine, and your chemical dependence), you are still inexplicably drawn to it.
If I’m in love with fried chicken, then sadly I’m in a horribly dysfunctional relationship. It makes me feel bad physically, I’m overly dependent on it, and I’m afraid to be seen with it in public. I’m trying to wean myself off it, for all of the obvious reasons. I do sometimes prefer having salad for lunch, or a yogurt for breakfast, but all too often I forget that my requited love for fried chicken is no longer making me happy. I just need to remember what my mother told me about the girl that broke my heart around right around the time of that aforementioned slumber party: that there are other fish in the sea. Or grilled chicken. Or spinach. And they’ll treat me a lot better.
Your turn – Have you ever turned to food during a time you’ve been extremely unhappy or to cope with something else going on in your life? How did you overcome it?