Thursday, September 19, 2013

Food Shame

I don’t know when I first started to feel ashamed of enjoying food. I do, however, remember distinctly a moment in Kindergarten when we were having ice cream sundaes for someone’s birthday. I was SO excited. We all stood in line, waiting for our turn to get ice cream and toppings. There were 2 adults helping the kids, one I remember as being my mom, but she insists she doesn’t remember this. One of the adults looked at me, laughed and said something about “calming down” and me "licking my lips”… I don’t remember the exact words. But I remember the burning I felt in my cheeks. The tingle of embarrassment in my stomach.

In 3rd grade we were celebrating Thanksgiving with a “traditional” Thanksgiving feast. Parents were invited, and the class all brought in food and dressed as pilgrims and Indians. When it was time to get up and get into line to get our feast, I sat at my desk and cried. I felt so embarrassed to get up and for others to see me take food and eat it –
Heaven forbid – ENJOY it, that I simply sat there and cried.


My poor teacher didn’t understand. Hell, I didn’t even understand.

Where did this shame come from? And at such a young age?

My step mother is incredible at describing food. She will tell you about a specific ice cream that is so delicious, one that you haven’t been able to get in stores for at LEAST 15 years, yet she can still describe it so well, you can almost taste it. I used to be embarrassed by this. Let me repeat that. I used to be embarrassed by HER describing food… ummm, huh?

I used to think that if you were overweight, you needed to hide any enjoyment food might have for you. God forbid something tasted good. Don’t say it out loud! Someone might hear you! And then, we all know what would have happened –the bullying would ensue. The stares. The talking behind your back. The laughing.

Dear God. It was horrific.

This logically may have led me down the path (a little further down, anyway) of binging and eating in secret. When you binge, you don’t think. Nothing tastes “good”. You hardly taste anything at all. It’s about getting the food into you so it can help numb you. A binge seems almost impossible if someone is savoring and enjoying their food. Slowly, fully enjoying what you are eating leaves your body free to tell you what it needs to tell you. Like “I’m full now”, or “I’d like more”, “I don’t like this” or “this is divine”

Regardless of where in my twisted past this shame really came into play and flourished, I have truly discovered recently how to battle it. When I am ETF (Eating The Food) I don’t feel the need to binge, or eat hurriedly. There is more if I really want it or I don’t have to clean my plate. It’s just food, and it’s all good. (yes, I say that in a very mystical, hippy-dippy manner). It’s all good, man. No worries.

I am in a class this semester called “Foods”. When I signed up in the spring, I was NOT yet ETF. I didn’t know much about the class, and truth be told, I didn’t think a thing about it all summer. We have just begun the semester and I am getting fully acclimated. This class not only involves food chemistry, but cooking and tasting the food we cook.

Not just tasting, but describing the food. Discussing things like mouth-feel, texture, aroma, taste… oh wow. This would have been my worst nightmare a mere few months ago. Especially having some fat still to drop, I would have felt mortified by this class. I dare say I might have dropped it.

Some thoughts that would have gone through my head:

“OMG, what if that has sugar in it?”
“I can’t eat anything with sugar”
“Will this fit into my macros?”
“I didn’t save enough calories for this!”

Oh the stress would have been incredible.

But now, instead of dropping it, instead of stressing about it, I am fully embracing it. I am viewing it as a challenge mentally and emotionally. A challenge I am willing to take on full force.

Challenges everywhere this fall!


  1. You've come a long way, baby (sorry I called you "baby"... I'm really trying to stop doing that, baby).

  2. That is a huge step forward and impressive progress. I can sort of understand where the attitude came from to not show enjoyment of food if you are overweight. I hate when we have cake for someone's birthday at work, because I feel like everyone is watching me eat and thinking "She doesn't need any of that!"

  3. :-) still so very glad you're back.

  4. Hi! My mom used to offer me a dime instead of a cookie already in second grade. Ugh.

    I don't keep track of macro anything. It leads to burnout for me. If I feel like a treat, I eat it--as long as I thought it through and it feels worth it. So I'm eating more chocolate and hardly any of so-so treats. :D