July 7 2017
Run Eat Repeat responds to seven of the food questions runners hear all the time.
I love food, always have. My Nina likes to tell stories about when I was a baby and would rock back and forth humming whenever I ate. But a love of food doesn’t have to mean an obsession with it—and I learned that the hard way.
After a chubby childhood and being overweight in high school, I decided to start dieting the summer after senior year. First I did that diet where you drink two shakes a day and have one meal. That worked for a few weeks until I was starving and fell off the plan. Then, I tried another diet. And another. And another…
All of the diets I tried left me HUNGRY. This is when I started to become obsessed with what I could eat and what I couldn’t eat. Counting calories or points or carbs took over all my thoughts. I tried to outsmart each diet to get the most food while staying within the limits of that particular diet’s ‘rules’.
Since I was always hungry, I was always thinking about food. What could I eat for my next meal? Could I go to the party – what if there was food there I couldn’t eat? Should I save some of my allowed food for later? Did I measure that right? Was there a lower calorie option I could have?
My diet and food took over my life. I planned work, school and hanging out with my boyfriend around what I could eat and when I could eat it. I would spend hours and hours online and on social media looking at what other people were eating on their diets. I would look up recipes or ‘food finds’ that were allowed on my diet plan. I would try to stick to my diet like my life depended on it, but when I got too hungry—I would binge eat.
This started a cycle of dieting and binging that I couldn’t stop. I tried harder each time to find a better diet and more food options that would help my cravings. I would obsess over every last crumb I was allowed to eat.
The irony of this is—thinking about food LESS would have probably served me better. Becoming obsessed with something you are supposed to be limiting doesn’t really help your cause!
The truth is dieting became my hobby.
And while it is healthy to have hobbies, obsessing over food isn’t the most creative outlet nor does it really benefit you or the people around you. It’s one thing to take a cake decorating class, it’s another to spend four hours researching diet cake recipes because you haven’t let yourself have dessert in months.
My mom said in passing at one point, “Once you get busier the weight will probably drop off…”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy but she was right that as I got busier with school, work and an internship I had less time to think about food and eating healthy wasn’t as difficult because I had to fuel myself to get through long days.
After about five years of yo-yo dieting and obsessing about food, my senior year of college kept me too busy to research a new diet to try every week. I just had to compile what I had learned from my research and do what I could in the time available. As I focused more on school, running and my boyfriend I focused less on FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD (that was on constant replay in my brain before).
I grabbed a quick breakfast, packed myself a healthy lunch and was out the door each morning to attack a full day of classes and internships and work. As the year went on I realized I was back to a weight that I had starved myself to get to in the past—but this time it wasn’t a result of super pricey pre-packaged meals. My lack of time to diet and obsess over food also meant I had less time and inclination to binge eat.
I took me YEARS to realize that dieting made me obsessed with food and my weight. And that obsession didn’t help my relationship with food or the scale. All I thought about was food, but I wasn’t even enjoying it since every bite was attached to extreme hunger, stress or guilt.
Now I look back on my years of dieting and wish I would have spent all those hours and days and years doing something else. It is great to be an informed consumer and make healthy choices, but just like you balance your diet—you should balance your life and not let one thing take over all your thoughts.
I still love food. I’m very passionate about eating healthy. I’m also pretty passionate about fresh glazed donuts. But I don’t obsess over my diet. I aim for 80 percent healthy, 20 percent fun foods and I stay educated on my health and what foods are best for me. The only thing I’m obsessed with today is being happy—and that requires balance.