Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Evil Temptation, obsessive thoughts of food

Last night, out of nowhere, I started thinking about food. I wasn't hungry at all. I'd eaten a lovely sandwhich of avocado & swiss cheese on wheat toast for dinner and had an apple for dessert. So why did I start thinking about Burger King Double Whoppers and Chicken sandwiches. Within moments of  the thoughts popping into my head I'd already half convinced myself that tomorrow I would go and buy myself one of each for lunch, or maybe a small meatlover's pizza with extra cheese. Honestly, I went to bed thinking about that food and woke up certain that I would be heading out to buy my binge foods as soon as the fast food places opened. My body isn't the one asking for this food. I checked. When I concentrated on what I was intending to buy I didn't feel hungry or even desirous of the burgers or pizza. In fact, I swear my tummy did a flip flop as if to say OH NO not again. So why am I obsessing on junk food? I don't get it.

Thinking about this has reminded me of my childhood. I have very clear memories of laying in bed and talking to my favorite teddy bear about all the good food we'd have someday. There would be fantasies of meatloaf and fried chicken (back then I never got fast food so pizza & burgers weren't in my imaginary menu of food). I was not a heavy child. In fact I was quite thin and active until I hit puberty. Yet I clearly remember having these obsessive thoughts about food, actually daydreaming about it. Looking back now I realize that I spent a lot of time as a kid hungry. Not malnourished hungry, but frankly I don't think I got enough to eat and I certainly didn't get treats or snacks. Most nights I went to bed with a growling stomache, particularly in the first 7 years of my life. We were pretty poor, particularly during my early childhood. Snacking absolutely wasn't allowed because there just wasn't any extra food in the house. Tasty food was a bit of a luxury. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese and cheap frozen fish sticks. On very special occasions or as celebrations we'd get wonderful things like Kentucky Fried Chicken or head to a buffet and gorge ourselves but generally, we didn't get to do that often. I'd get a little bowl of cheerios for breakfast or more often I'd go without breakfast, I'd have whatever the school lunch was and a portion of mac and cheese or 4 fish sticks or something for dinner. There were no well balanced meals. Fresh vegetables and fruits were never bought. My grandmother, who lived next door and babysat for us, cooked most things in the good old southern way with lots of lard. Typical meals would be some sort of fried meat, usually covered in gravy, fried potatoes and a can of green beans. At my own home, my mom didn't cook and we usually lived on frozen foods, or microwave foods when we were finally able to afford a microwave. I have no real background in proper, healthy nutrition. In my head I know I should be eating fruits and vegetables, at least 3 balanced meals a day, maybe a healthy snack. But I can't seem to make that happen in reality. I never eat breakfast, often don't eat lunch. Since I was about 10 years old I've done this. I stopped eating the school lunches at that age because then I could keep the $5 for lunch that my mom gave me and use it for an allowance. I'd horde that money until I had saved up enough to buy myself a book or two at Wal Mart, or makeup as I got a little older. I'd end up eating one large meal each night and that would be it on weekdays. Weekends, once we had a tiny bit more money, we'd usually eat out at McDonalds or live on bags of potato chips and donuts. Basically, it was feast or famine most of my life. In my late teens/early twenties I went through a few years dealing with anorexia. When that stopped, it became all feast all the time with sporadic reversals into the famine mode.

I still tend to fall back into these patterns. I either go about practically starving myself or I eat as if I'll never see good food again. Somehow I have got to cure myself of a lifetime of bad eating habits, and particularly of this feeling (that comes from those early childhood days of hunger) that I'd better eat as much as I can now because tomorrow I could go hungry. I think my binge eating comes from having no choice in what I ate as a child and always feeling deprived. So, how to I convince my grown up self that that is no longer the case?

For the record, I did not give in and go to Burger King or the pizza place. But it's been in my thoughts all day. GRRR

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