Friday, January 27, 2012

De-centralizing Food

At the start of this process of weight loss and changing my relationship with food was the decision to leave the foreign country I live in and go back home to America. That was more a "theory" than a reality for a long time. Now, it is not what might or will happen, but what is actually happening, and I'm both in a place I'd like to be and not where I thought I'd be. I thought I'd be at a certain number on the scale (150 lbs.) and I'm not there. I'm at 175 lbs. However, I'm mentally in a place where I never imagined I could be, and that place makes me care very little about that number.

One of the things I've been doing to prepare to leave is try and eliminate anything I can from my apartment which is not essential to surviving the last two months in our home. This has meant tossing away giant trash bags of things which are too old to be sold or given away like yellow plastic storage bins which have had their fair share of age-related distortion and scratching. It also has meant getting rid of what was in those bins including dishes, tools, and various apartment-related items which cannot be carried across an ocean without incurring an expense far greater than the value of those items.

It has also meant looking at the accumulated food in our pantry and trying to figure out a way to use up canned items, a big collection of various types of tea, staples (like oatmeal), and what is probably for most people a scarily large number of partially consumed bags of snacks. As my regular readers know, I eat chocolate, cookies, cakes, etc. in small portions everyday. As they may not know, I also crave novelty. I buy a bag of something and eat it for a few days then want something different. With this sort of approach, it takes a long time to get through anything and even longer to get through "everything".

Since I don't want to waste food and I need to use up what is on hand, I have found myself looking into how I deal with food and food shopping in a different light. I know that I have used food shopping as a means of entertaining myself and would go into bakeries, snack shops, and supermarkets and look at sections just to see what sort of novel thing I might want to buy. The truth is that I did this when I wasn't even especially hungry or interested in different things and had plenty of treats on hand. It's almost as if I was trying to find a way to convince myself to buy more of such things rather than acting on a true desire.

The situation with our overabundance of snacks and a need to clear everything out has lead me to change my approach and I believe it is one I should try to apply consistently from this point on. I need to question the urge and desire to look around for food for the sake of looking around for food. I've got plenty of goodies (both "healthy" and "not so healthy") on hand and I think these actions are another way of keeping food as a central focus in my daily life.

One might say that there is nothing "wrong" with this if I've got control over what I eat and continue to lose weight, but this isn't about "right" or "wrong", but rather about behavior patterns which are not conducive to a lifestyle in which food is put in its proper place in my life. Food has to be just "food" and not something I seek to fill a mental vacuum. There's no reason to go into a bakery and browse when I've already got baked goods at home, am not hungry, or have no plans for a special treat at tea time. It's just part of a pattern I've developed to keep food central in my life and my thoughts. So, unless I have a deliberate and considered need or desire (yes, desire, too!), I won't be looking at food in various shops.

I must emphasize very strongly that this has nothing to do with trying to "clean up" my eating. I have zero desire to banish any type of food from my life. In fact, I have every desire to be more inclusive of all sorts of food and to enjoy each and every bite of every one of them more and more. I've spent much of the last year going to restaurants and sampling new types of cuisine in an effort to be more expansive and fully appreciate food more. However, I want food not to be something I casually shop for just because it's what I've always done, and am grateful that moving has given me this new perspective.

One final thought, for what it's worth, I wouldn't trade the psychological changes in my relationship with food for the perfect body if it was on offer. This mental stuff is forever and leaves me at peace and not obsessed. I'd only screw up a perfect body without this sort of mental progress. If I never get any lighter, I'm okay with that as long as I don't have to be tortured by how I feel about eating and food anymore.


karen said...

Great perspective!

screaming fatgirl said...

Thank you, Karen. And thank you for reading.