I am such a sucker for a bowl full of candy. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, when my last meal was, or even if I’m at all hungry. You put a bowl of candy in front of me, I will eat as much of it as I can. I will eat so much I will feel sick or have a headache. I know the end result is inevitable, but sometimes that just doesn’t matter. The candy bowl has become the last frontier in my developing a healthy relationship with food.
Case in point: every Wednesday night my a cappella group rehearses at one of our member’s offices downtown. At her office there are bowls of bite size candy bars on basically every surface (if I worked there I would weigh 300 pounds). What also happens every Wednesday night is I go to Chipotle for dinner. So I eat this huge burrito bowl, feel so full, and then go to rehearsal and continue to stretch my stomach by filling up on candy. Sure, I could not eat the candy. I could listen to my body and know that I’m full, but there is something about chocolate, caramel, peanuts, and nougat that makes me unable to control myself.
Weight Watchers has a lot of tricks that you’re supposed to be able to use when faced with whatever your “kryptonite” is. Their first rule is that you’re not supposed to deprive yourself. So what I should be doing when I get to rehearsal is first assessing whether or not I’m hungry or even in the mood for chocolate. Then, if I would probably decide that even if I’m not hungry I’m going to eat the chocolate anyway, I should count out a certain number of candies and then not go back to the bowl after I finish them (probably the optimal number would be 6 in terms of points values). After I finish the 6 candies, I should pat myself on the back for having so much self control and pretend to not be eyeing the glass bowl a mere 18 inches from where I’m sitting. Instead I leave the wrappers in front of me so that I can see how much I have eaten and will maybe guilt myself into stopping. That never works though because whenever I have tried to guilt myself out of eating I always end up eating more.
For a long time I tried to use guilt and punishment as a way to lose weight. I definitely got that from my mom who for so long just wanted me to be thinner than I was, have a flatter stomach than I did, and pretty much avoid all forms of chocolate or candy or anything that might make me fat. But I love candy, so eating it as a kid became not only a source of comfort, but also a means of rebellion against my mom. I only came to this realization after years of Weight Watchers and therapy, all I knew as a kid was that I couldn’t seem to stop myself. This left me in a state of constant conflict as a teenager when I was trying to not only be thin, but also find my own identity and fight against my mother. I would eat my candy and sweets out of the house and eat what my mother put in front of me at home. She was always questioning why I wasn’t losing weight faster. I was sad to be disappointing her, and also to not have any control over my cravings and need for chocolate. I always felt immense guilt after eating something that I wasn’t “supposed” to. I think that if I didn’t hate throwing up as much as I did, bulimia would have been my next stop.
Thankfully, I never developed a full blown eating disorder under the constant pressure, just a touch of body dysmorphia. I have worked for a long time to see myself for who I really am and not focus on the “flaws” that have been drilled into my head since I was just a kid. As I have formed a healthier relationship with food and learned to cook, my image of myself has improved. Since I know that I’m (usually) only putting the best into my body I appreciate it more. I feel better about it because food is not longer a reward or a punishment. I still love food the way that I always have, but it no longer has control over me.
Well, except for that candy bowl.
I think that that’s okay though. I joke that I can’t stop myself and I am no match for that candy bowl, but I can say that now because I know that I am. If I didn’t want to eat the candy, I wouldn’t. I’m not rebelling anymore against this ingrained need to limit myself and stay thin. I’m allowing myself to enjoy a food group that I don’t usually get to enjoy. Candy, in general, doesn’t fill me up, it doesn’t make me feel good, which is something I didn’t notice when I was younger because I was too busy stuffing my face. It makes me tired and achy and ultimately I’m hungry again an hour after I eat it. I would never pick up a candy bar as a snack when an apple is an option, and I say that in all seriousness. But on Wednesday nights when I get to just let go and enjoy the candy because its there, because I love it, and because I can, I know how far I have come. There is no guilt or anger at myself when I leave. I know that I have been a little reckless, but I don’t mind because I know that I enjoyed it. Every single bite-size piece of it.