My Food Obsession
I walked, for a long time, in a veil of shame. I was the one who always had room for more. I could out-eat the grown men from my 5'1" female frame. At bedtime, I dreamed of breakfast. At breakfast, I discussed brunch. When we talked of going to an event, my mind danced around the possible foods that may be served there. As the weight crept up, I learned to silence these thoughts and keep them to myself. Yes, OF COURSE the “fat girl” is thinking about food.
No matter how much we promote it, nobody enjoys the feeling of being different. At least, not until you discover just what it is that makes you different. For a long time, I felt that I must just be broken. That everyone else had been programmed to have a healthy relationship with food, and I was some kind of freak. I was doomed to be embarrassed because I couldn’t get food off my mind.
Back when MyFitnessPal and other calorie counting programs started to arrive on the scene, they became ALL the rage. I tried, I really did, but counting each calorie only highlighted my obsession with food. It didn’t stop me from thinking about it all of the time. If anything, I thought about it MORE because now I had to keep a constant tally in my head. It drove me crazy and led to more than one absolute tear-ridden breakdown.
One day, I was reading, and came across the history of an old study conducted at the end of WWII. You may have heard of it. The Minnesota Starvation Experiment. For nearly a year (1944–1945), researchers at the University of Minnesota created near-starvation conditions for 36 student volunteers.
If you know your history, this time period saw quite a lot of war-induced famine around the world. Researchers wanted to understand more about the physiological effects of starvation, as well as best practices for re-feeding the victims. The volunteers were healthy adult men, who had mostly been conscientious objectors of the draft.
As I read, I noticed how much I was relating to the participants of the study. Depression, anxiety, paranoia while hungry…binge eating and food obsession. I thought about my formative years. Our single mother was radically unprepared to care for us on her own. Likely the result of her own childhood neglect.