Ever snuck food? I know you have, we all have taken BLTS (Bites, Tastes, Licks and Sips). Since I was a little kid, I thought they were harmless, but I was wrong. I had food allergies to everything. I always had a rash - itchin' and scratchin'. At worst, they led to an asthma attack. But I didn't care, I wanted what everyone else was having.
Because of the allergies, my mom cooked around them when possible and, when not, did creative things with food for me. For example, while the rest of the family ate ice cream, she would take Cool Whip and mix pureed peanuts in with it and create faux peanut butter ice cream! Comfort food for me still today. I guess I am the Potato Diva because of her love of french fries and how she loved me through making them. My mom would make french fries in a Corning Ware electric skillet with Crisco oil. Fries cured what ailed you and toasted all celebrations. I cannot tell you how many times I stopped at McDonald's on my way home from a "good" therapy session just to feel "hugged" from my departed mom.
Oh, back to the sneaking. For me it started before kindergarten, around 1972. I snuck a fudge Popsicle. I was wearing a white shirt - now this will become important. Mom asked me why I ate some of the forbidden food. I said very confidently, "I didn't eat no Popsicle." She pointed to my chest and asked, "Then how, young lady, did you get that (chocolate stain)?"
For me, overeating wasn't a family affair. However, it was a competition with my older brother by six years. I tried to out-eat him... first one to the leftovers. We were poor and unhealthy eaters for most of the year. We lived on venison and chicken all year long and fresh vegetables from the garden in the summer. Canned vegetables with butter and fruit in syrup for the rest of the year. My mom was 46-years-old when I, the fourth child, came along and was ready for retirement from being a housewife. So boxed food was commonplace. She just lost her zest for the kitchen.
Those unhealthy food choices and overeating took its toll. Especially on my designer label jeans. While others wore Jordache and Levis I wore Sears "Chubbies." Nice, huh? Announce it to the 7TH grade class that I was fattie! A size 13! When I got a real bad case of the flu at 11 1/2 (1980), I discovered the magic of purging after overeating. Eat all you want and throw it up. I would never be a Karen Carpenter. She was old. I was young and indestructible. I was in control. After dinner, I would take my toothbrush up my sleeve and go for a walk in the woods. I got down to a size 5 and 105 lbs. by Christmas of that year. Everyone was proud of me. Me and my little diet secret that would bind me in chains until I was 32-years-old.
After college (1990), every time I was between jobs I would binge and purge. I mean really binge falling into a food coma. Not just overeat to fall into a food trance for a while. I would spend my mornings job hunting and my afternoons gorging and filling a five-gallon bucket from eating a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese, 8 hot dogs, a frozen pizza, a five pound bag of potatoes turned into mashed potatoes, and a batch of brownies from a box. Then after I purged and cleaned up, I would eat a wonderfully prepared meal, from a box, with my husband for dinner. Fine dining at its best, right? I didn't care. It was all about consumption and quantity. Nothing about quality. This cycle occurred every 9 months as I got ill and was asked to resign or fired from a job. I did this to numb the feelings of guilt, anger, failure, loneliness and shame.
When my bouts of illness clearly became a diagnosis in 2000, I became mad at God and held a pity party where I ate all the food and invited no one. In 2002 due to my disease, I went on disability and was told by a healthcare professional to join Overeaters Anonymous. That program helped me overcome bulimia but I still overate and binged. I did what my sponsor told me but I couldn't stick to the strict rules of their food program as outlined in my region. So not only was I making poor food choices, overeating and binging, I was mad at Heaven, Hell and Earth for all my affairs. I sought revenge and comfort in food. Since 2002, I gained 150 lbs. I guess the program didn't quite work for me in every aspect. However, it does work for many people and I learned a great deal that I continue to use and am thankful for.
For me, overeating is going to an Italian restaurant and eating a meal consisting of the salad smothered in blue cheese dressing, garlic knots, a glass of house wine, veal dean martin, pasta side dish, and dessert.
Binging is buying a 2 buckets of KFC, one extra crispy and one mixed, several sides and eating one bucket and 2 side dished on the way home. I will either hide the bucket in the trash can or throw it out the window to save face and not get caught in the almighty binge. Definitely not green, definitely not cool.
Now in 2010, my greatest dinner out includes a salad with ginger dressing, miso soup and 8-12 pieces of sushi with 3-4 cups of hot tea and lemon water. Sometimes I even eat the fortune cookie. Sometimes I don't finish the sushi and eat it for lunch the next day.
Could I do better? Leaner? Sure!
Will I some day? Hell yea!
Have I come a long way from where it all began? Assuredly.
Am I happy with my progress? As long as I am moving forward or learning from my mistakes, I am where I am supposed to be. So yeah, I am happy.
It's inspiring to me to know someone who has not only overcome one eating disorder but is overcoming a second. Truly inspiring and makes me feel more motivated to move forward on my own journey. Thank you for your thoughtful post Potato Diva.