For years I used to step on a scale, Every Single Day.
I’d cringe as I’d wait to see my verdict. Guilty of overindulging on sugar, or not guilty by reason of meal skipping.
Growing up I was always very skinny, no matter how much I ate. That started to change in college, and by junior year I had gained at least 25 pounds.
Everything for me revolved around sugar; sugar and counting calories. I was a high-fructose, blood sugar level spiking addict. I’d reason with myself that I could eat as much desserts and sweets as I wanted, as long as I skipped enough meals. Balancing out the calories was my only goal.
In truth, I always loved fruits and vegetables; they just weren’t my main objective. Sugar, sugar and more sugar, was what I lived for.
Back then, weight was everything to me, ironically. Each morning I’d tip toe onto my scale with one eye open to peak at the damage I’d done. And then I’d make a skip-a-meal plan to repent of my sweet sins.
Finding a purpose for food...
As the years went by I grew older and food-wiser. I learned about where our food comes from and how it can nourish our bodies and minds. Food started to hold a purpose far more significant than satisfying my sugary palate urges.
How we eat can truly reflect our ethical, physical, mental and spiritual goals.
As a lifelong animal lover it was particularly hard for me to learn about the horrors of modern day animal agriculture. I had already been a vegetarian for years, but after watching undercover videos at factory farms, I decided to eliminate all animal products from my diet and become vegan. I didn’t want to participate in (and line the pockets of) a food production system I didn’t believe in.
And with that, my food choices aligned with my ethics and love for all the beautiful creatures on our planet.
Then I began to learn more about health. I learned about the importance of nourishing your cells with nutritious plant-based foods and whole grains. I learned about all of the chemicals and preservatives our American diet is drowned in. I learned that just because I’m vegetarian or vegan doesn’t necessarily mean I’m eating healthy (oh so many microwaved meals...). I learned how our increasing rates of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are all tied to the low quality, highly addictive, and chemically-filled foods that get marketed to us as nutritious and vitamin enriched. I also learned about the power of wealthy corporate lobbyists over our government when it comes to the food we’re encouraged to eat. I realized that our “freedom” to eat whatever we want was no real freedom at all. As they say, only the educated are truly free.
And with that, my food choices aligned with my health goals as I took personal ownership over what I put in my mouth and welcomed “greener” rituals into my daily routine. Instead of being a sugar addict, I am now a morning green juice addict!
I also learned how food could play a role in my mental wellbeing. I’ve battled high levels of anxiety my entire life. This anxiety has caused me to have breathing problems, panic attacks, an unusual form of claustrophobia and more... I tried various anti-anxiety pills but hated the side effects of all of them, so I never stayed on them for long.
The more I learned about food, the more I realized that it can be used as a tool for combating these symptoms. While I don’t think food was the underlying cause of my anxiety, it definitely exasperated it. All of the spikes and drops in my blood sugar levels were acidic fuel to an already jittery fire. Eating a healthy plant- and grain-based diet combined with exercise has not only stabilized my weight, but it’s helped to stabilize me emotionally, as well.
And with that, food became my therapy (or perhaps my nutritional Xanax).
I’ve become more and more spiritual as I approach my mid-thirties. Not really religious, just spiritual. Believing in the unseen energies that bind us all. Believing our souls have a purpose to fulfill in our limited time on Earth. Believing we should all be kinder to ourselves and the world around us. What can I say: woo-woo hocus pocus lights me up inside.
Filling my body with chemicals, endless amounts of sugar, or byproducts of sad animal souls has lost its appeal. What I fill my body with feeds my spirit, so I no longer eat haphazardly or addictively; I eat mindfully.
And with that, food became my spiritual bread and wine.
A funny thing happened as I learned more and more about the values behind my food choices. I forgot all about my scale.
I never consciously stopped weighing myself; I simply forgot all about it. My scale now lives under a pile of bags and laundry in the back of our bathroom closet. Every few months I’ll remember it’s there, as an afterthought, not a daily, weekly, or even monthly ritual.
Am I a perfect eater? Absolutely not. I still treat myself to sweet and indulgent or fried and greasy dishes, but now those things are a treat, not an addiction. The word "diet" has been completely eliminated from my vocabulary, and skipping a meal is never an option. Ironically, once food began to serve a higher purpose, I reached my ideal weight without even trying.
Eating healthy has simply become my way of life. My body, mind and soul no longer give a hoot about what my scale has to say.