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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Why I Enjoy Food Again


My mum always tells me the story of when I was a baby and would stuff my face with a banana because I loved them that much. I personally don’t remember it but why would I? I was a baby after all. Luckily there’s photographic evidence to prove it. The reason I’m writing this post isn’t to tell my life long history but more my experience because it’s only the past couple of years that I’ve come to love food again.

I’m not even sure when it started or why but from memory it was about 6-7 years ago. One summer I became obsessed with exercising and it was at an age in my life where I’d finished college and literally had weeks to play with. So exercise became my focus. I didn’t invest much time with my friends, it was during a big fall out with one group of friends before this happened and other things going on. And only looking back now do I realise how crazy I was. Not a single day would go by without me working out. During the week, in particular on a Wednesday, I’d go to a weekly pub quiz, come home around midnight and make it to bed at 2/3AM after I’d exercised ’til exhaustion because mentally I believed I had to do it. I upped the ante on a weekend because I had more hours to play with and would put myself through my paces until the point of blacking out. All before I worked my part time job, which became quite difficult on no calories. My then boss would remark on my ‘little appetite’ and would always offer me food (it was a restaurant by the way), but I would only consume the low calorie snacks I brought with me to my shift.

Uni was also tough as it’s pretty hard to concentrate when you’re depriving your body of a basic need but nonetheless I got through. I’d ‘reward’ myself with 4 squares of chocolate at the weekend, yet social dining was still off the cards as pretending I wasn’t hungry or ‘so full from the lunch I had earlier’ wore pretty thin. I mean how many times can a girl order a diet coke for dinner before her friends start questioning it?

My social life was non existent, turning down invites to go out through fear of food, my energy levels rock bottom, yet I continued in my quest to become slimmer and have complete control over one part of my life. It’s no secret that I didn’t enjoy university, and there’s many reasons for that. But part of the reason I believe was down to this. Sure I was skinny but was I happy? Hell no. I had hunger pains most days and slept for hours just so I could stay awake in my lectures. That’s not the picture they paint of ‘the best three years of your life’ is it? But that’s the path I chose.

Even when I got my first job it continued until a year or two following when for some reason, and I can’t even pinpoint it myself, my mindset switched. I work for a very sociable company. We brunch, lunch and dine together. We have snacks in the office constantly and because I have a department of over 50, chances are it’s always someone’s birthday. I used to struggle to make it through the working day on what I was ‘feeding myself’, I’d get upset easily and my skin and hair showed all of this. I was irritable and probably not much fun to be around at all. I was always cold and needing to sleep for 12/14 hours at a time to even open my eyes and function.

Now I don’t recognise that person. Now I’m tottering along in my heels to be the first at the office cake or actually going for seconds at the buffet table. I look forward to eating out (not that my bank account appreciates it) and instead of feeling guilt at every bite, I genuinely enjoy food again. I no longer fear the supermarket because of spending ages checking the content of every single packet, but throw things in because, frankly, life is too damn short.

So what if I had too much cake? I’ll walk it off. One cake won’t send my life into a spiral. Not only has it changed my personal view of food but it’s enriched my life in more ways than that. I can be more relaxed at work functions, at blogger events, press days and general outings with my loved ones, unafraid to have all of the canap├ęs.

People still comment on my ‘small portions’ but for me to actually want to eat is more important to me than that. I’m never going to be the world’s biggest eater, I was born ‘petite’ so I know I’ve got a small stomach and get filled up pretty quick and that’s okay to me. I was in two minds as to whether to post this but as a writer, sometimes the most genuine posts come from within. And if this helps even one person, it’s been worth it. I’m not claiming to have had the world’s worst eating disorder, because I didn’t but I also didn’t know I had a problem at the time. Sure I’m a little bigger in weight now but I’m also the fittest I’ve ever been. I run 10Ks on the weekly, I never get hangovers anymore, my hair is bouncy, my skin improved and I’m quite simply happier than I’ve ever been. And whilst I don’t like to ever live with regret, god I miss not eating properly all those years and actually enjoying life. Time to make up for it now…

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