I’ve struggled on and off for the majority of my life with food. To say for sure where this came from is hard. Was it upbringing? Is it the effect of decades of exposure to a “western diet”? Or am I weak and need to have more self-control?
The answer likely lies in the middle of each of these.
It is important to own up to your situation in life and speak about it. To remove the stigma attached to these matters with force and purpose. For me, at least, not to be public leads to a downward spiral of secrets and shame.
Sometime after losing most of the weight I carried, habits began to emerge. Habits of occasional and destructive bingeing emerged. While I’m sure it was there before, it was far more difficult to distinguish. Likely because the balance of my diet was so skewed toward the negative.
This tendency to indulge in food would show its face in the form of late night trips to the corner store. Trips where I would eat ice cream, cookies, and all manners of junk. I would tell myself that I was a zombie in these moments. That I lacked any sort of self-control. That it wasn’t me, but someone else buying and eating all that junk food.
The reality is that the person doing it was me.
Sure, I would have some moments of lucidity. Many of them would appear immediately after an “episode.” I would regret all that I had done. Sometimes I’d even able to maintain the understanding of what is going on. In those moments, I’d hold back from committing these crimes against myself.
It never seemed to last, though.
In one way or another, these issues have persisted over the last several years. In fact, over the last few years, they’ve become much worse. I’ve had many ups and downs. I’ve also had many excuses for why it was occurring. Chief amongst them was that idea that I was not responsible for what I was doing because it wasn’t me.
But this is not the whole truth.
Health, nutrition, and wellness are all complicated things. I also know that there other forces inside of me that are harder to quantify. Pieces like hormonal balance, gut health, and nutrient deprivation which decrease my power. No matter the odds, though, we can always be in control. You just need to change the angle at which you attack the problem.
This comes in the form of strategies and thinking ahead.
It has taken me a long time to get to where I am. I’ve rebounded many times and lost my credibility just as many times because of it. What I can say is that I’ve been successful in the last few months and am starting to turn things around.
Part of that success has been because I’ve been seeking to empower myself. Instead of claiming I have no control. To own my decisions. And when I’m unhappy with a decision I’ve made, to be proactive, take the blame for what I’ve done, and to try again.
Another piece has been because I know I need to create a positive example for my own child. One that, regardless of the best of intentions, I did not have. I refuse to indoctrinate him into a world where excuses are ever a valid reason to not try harder.
More than anything, though, I know that I cannot be my best self if I continue to embrace my worst self. I need to own this piece of myself and continue to try new things to move forward. Which is where I am now.
I write this because I know that this sort of struggle is real for many people.
I write it because the taboo nature of this sort of struggle forces those of us in it to feel shame and the need to hide.
I announce this as my intention to overcome this piece of myself by bringing it to the light.
I make this public because I know that in the darkness it has the most power.
I have no plans to make what I write going forward to be a daily account of my struggles. No food logs or any such thing that I have done in the past. I do want to go more into detail into what I’ve learned and know to be true. To speak in the open about the strategies that work and the ones that do not. To talk about the negative effects that diet can have. All while I break my own negative patterns by embracing a new one.
When we embarked again back to Southeast Asia I told my wife that there were lessons for me to still learn. Lessons I needed before I would be ready to go back to our life in New York. Consider this my embrace of that truth and a return to my roots.
Roots I should have never left behind.