Food is Not Love

When I set the intention of losing 40 pounds by my 40th birthday, I had no idea I would be going on a divorce diet.

God knows I’ve gone on every other kind of diet: lemonade fasts made from lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper; Herbalife shakes, the South Beach diet, and the longest dieting technique I ever tried: bulimia.

Of those, the only one I would recommend you try is South Beach. I couldn’t do it for the long-term (and don’t know anyone who has been able to deal with the elimination of carbs and sugar for life), but it definitely curbed my sugar cravings and took all that middle of the body fat away.

If you are not familiar with this one, let me explain: you don’t have your partner to cook for anymore so you don’t prepare food often. You are likely not hungry much of the time so you forget to eat. Any comfort eating you would normally do doesn’t comfort you at all. In fact, eating may actually make you feel sick.

It works fabulously. I’ve lost 20 twenty pounds in the last nine weeks. I have about 40 weeks left until my birthday and am halfway to my goal already. Thanks divorce diet!

Does this sound sarcastic? It isn’t really. I gained nearly seventy pounds while I was pregnant. Partly, I think my body just puts on pounds with pregnancy hormones. My sister, who weighs 100 pounds normally, gained 50 pounds with each of her pregnancies so it may just be what our bodies do.

My weight gain could also be attributed largely to my anxiety. I had two miscarriages before Cavanaugh and was terrified I would lose him to another. When I ate sugar, Cavanaugh kicked and I felt secure that he was in there and alive. So I ate a lot of sugar, chocolate milkshakes primarily. There are a lot of calories in chocolate milkshakes because it takes three or four scoops of ice cream to get the shake thick like I like it.

By the end of the pregnancy, I was much thicker than I would have liked. I left the hospital weighing 40 pounds less than when I’d entered, but I’ve carried those 40 pounds for over three years now.

No, that’s not true. I lost fifteen then gained them back in a winter of peppermint milkshakes right after Cavanaugh turned one. No matter how much exercise or changing my diet I’ve done since, I haven’t lost a pound.

Now, the weight is just disappearing. At a time when the last thing I feel is attractive, much less sexual, it is still a huge relief to have my clothes falling off of me.

I ate for weeks when my friends set up a food tree and would bring quinoa salad, hummus, black beans rice avocado and sour cream dishes. They provided such healthy food, I was eating better than if I’d cooked for myself. Now that I’m back to cooking for myself, I just don’t want fat-laden foods. When I have a heavy meal, I feel heavy and tired afterward. It doesn’t feel good.

Instead, I am paying attention to whether I feel hungry. If I do, I eat. But not as much as I used to. I don’t get the second or third helping that comes when you’re eating with another person and they get another helping. I stop when I feel almost full, when I’m satisfied. And when the only hunger you’re trying to sate with food is a physical one, it’s amazing what happens to your portion size, or at least to mine.

I remember watching a Friends episode years ago and one of the characters telling Monica, “Food is not love.” It struck me at the time and I’ve been thinking about it lately. I have used food when I felt unloved, or scared, or sad. The thought of not eating for comfort seemed an impossible task.

One of the many gifts I’m getting from this divorce is that I am learning how to eat when I’m hungry and that food can’t fill those other holes. I am so grateful for this one.

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5 comments to Food is Not Love

  • Mebs

    When you burn off through exercise more than you take in you lose weight. Diets don’t work, eating healthy and exercise does. If peope would listen and feel their bodies when they eat and after they would choose better food to eat. Glad you’re finding that out. I never felt as good as when I was pregnant and eating exceptionally well. I gained 25 pounds and within a month I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I ate good and my husband made sure of it. It’s a lifestyle not a passing thing, like diets are. To good health. Mebs

  • rebecca

    Do you know 101 cookbooks? The recipes she has are really adaptable. The link is:

    most of the recipes are pretty adaptable and healthy. And good (= Especially if you like vegetarian (whether you are veg or not). One of the things I do when I catch myself eating less healthy is a food journal. Even just a few days of writing down everything I eat makes me more conscious. I’ve never done one for a long period of time – I imagine that it would be pretty effective. I usually just need a few days of it to bring my awareness back to what I’m putting in my body. We are much more than just our body – the carcass we carry around – but feeling connection to our bodies and feeling like the body is healthy and strong is a great gift, I think. I know I feel more physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally connected when my body feels healthy.

    • I’ll totally check out 101 cookbooks. I am vegetarian. The idea of a food journal has always freaked me out. Maybe because I haven’t actually wanted to know or admit what I was putting into my body. It would be hard to ignore if I were writing it all down.

  • The movie Paul Blart, Mall Cop with Kevin James has a very very very funny scene about food as love. It’s worth watching…the whole movie is believe it or not.

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