My relationship with food is a complex one, but then it is for a lot of people, not just the anorexics, the bulimics and the grossly obese.
After 2½ years of fights and battles, and the overall loss of over a 100lbs, you might have thought that this relationship would be simpler and easier to understand. And in some ways it is. At least these days I know what I’m up against.
Having said that, knowing that you have to go out and fight a dragon the size of a building that has teeth as long as your arms and breathes fire, while you have little more than a toothpick and a jar of barbeque sauce to help you, doesn’t always make it easier to find the will to go out and face it every day.
But even as I develop new tricks, techniques and strategies to deal with it, the adversary also evolves in unexpected ways.
Something I’ve become aware of over the past few months has been the onset of a new emotional trick up the sleeve of the beast.
There are times when having a tasty treat in front of me, one that I can allow myself to have, fills me with an overwhelming sense of sadness.
At first glance, this might seem a little strange. There, under my nose is a warm, fresh from the oven, home-baked scone, made by my son who has his mother’s touch for creating mouth-watering, indulgent food.
I’ve been good for the rest of the week so eating it is hardly going to tip the scales the wrong way, and it’s going to make Rogan feel good to know he’s created something his father will enjoy. So yes, it’s OK to eat this warm buttery scone, and even have a spoon of Maggie’s homemade raspberry jam on it.
All I have to do is enjoy it.
Instead, I want to cry.
Because I know it will only be a few moments and then it will be gone. And I won’t be able to have a 2nd, a 3rd, a sneaky 4th and then talk Maggie into making us a batch of rock-buns for later.
Before I’ve even placed a piece in my mouth, I’m mourning the passing of the scone.
I’m mourning the fact that I cannot just have the scone, enjoy it, and then stop, feeling satisfied.
I am mourning the fact that for the rest of my life, every time I have a tasty sweet, buttery or salty treat to eat, I will have to fight to stop continuing to eat and eat and eat until I am stuffed, feeling physically sick and disgusted with myself for having given into the binge.
Part of me so desperately wants to be able to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and damn the consequences.
I want to scream that it’s not fair! Other people get to eat what they want! Other people get to stop halfway through a bag of Maltesers and feel that they’ve had enough! Other people don’t have to worry that if they have one, they won’t stop until they have physically damaged themselves!
It’s like going to a massive funfair with big dippers, giant Ferris wheels and walls of death, and being told you’re only allowed to go on the kiddie’s ladybird ride because the others will be damaging to your health. The kiddie’s ride isn’t going to satisfy you; all it’s going to do is remind you of what you’re missing.
And that is the terrible weapon the beast has developed: I rarely feel much sense of achievement for the weight I have lost. Instead I am continually overwhelmed with a sense of sadness about what I dare not allow myself to have, no matter how tasty, wonderful and enjoyable.
Because the more I enjoy it, the more dangerous it is for me.