Punishing Myself With Food
Thirty fucking years. Thirty years of my life spent punishing myself with food.
Why on earth would someone do that to themselves for so long? And how? What possible reason causes such a daily torrent of abuse?
Hi, I’m Kelly and I am a recovering food addict.
I spent all of my days thinking about food and punishing myself with food. I stuffed my face stupid until my belly was close to exploding. I loathed myself into this ridiculous punishment.
It was all consuming. It took over every part of my life and it became so ingrained into every part of my being that I did it without ever questioning it.
Because I didn’t know there was another way to be.
The hatred I had for myself and my body led me down a very destructive path. And food was my weapon of choice for mass destruction.
I used it to punish myself over and over again for not being skinny, for not being pretty, for not being happy, for not being loveable, for not being worthy, for not being enough.
Every part of who I was was not enough.
And those destructive thoughts always led me to the pantry. To the fridge to find whatever sweet, fatty disgusting food I could use to punish and gorge myself, and numb myself.
Numb myself to how I really felt about myself and my life. I had no other way of release. There was no one to talk to about how I was really feeling and the constant reminders from my parents that I wasn’t good enough kept me going back to kitchen time and time again.
I was sneaky too. I would eat in secret so no one would know my disgusting and punishing habit.
I would hide food so no one else would see it or eat it.
I remember when I moved to England, I was 24, and I was nannying for a family in Birmingham. I didn’t really know anyone so my sense of loneliness was through the roof and even though I did my best to get out and experience life, I still mostly just wanted to hide away in my room and eat.
This one day I remember clearly going to the local supermarket to stock up on my supply’s of punishing foods. And I had quite a bit in my basket , and I saw my boss. I was so embarrassed and I hope he didn’t think “what’s that fat pig doing with more disgusting food she doesn’t need”.
But it didn’t deter me from going back and pigging out. It just fuelled the punishment I was giving to myself for being a fat, disgusting pig.
And this scene repeated over and over again. I had been doing it for the last 10 years and I kept doing it for another 25.
That’s 35 years of my life that I punished myself with food.
Can you imagine what that does to a person? How awful they are feeling inside to keep doing that to themselves?
See, fat people aren’t fat because they are lazy, fat pigs who just want to eat gross food all day.
No. That “gross” food is their emotions. It is their hatred. It is their disgust for who they are and what they have become.
Now, this isn’t to say all overweight people feel this way. There are definitely women who are of a “larger” size that absolutely love themselves and their lives and this is how they choose to be.
We all have our own reasons for being the body size we are. But there is also just what our body size is. I definitely don’t believe we are all meant to be this one size fits all womanly mould.
But, unfortunately, there are way too many women who do punish themselves with food. And it isn’t only “fat” women.
Women who are the ideal body size and shape can also punish themselves with food by eating too little food. It really does work both ways.
Women use many types of eating disorders to punish themselves because we truly, truly believe that we are not good enough. That we can never reach this fucked up standard we have all been told we must live by.
It completely fucked me up for so long. And included in that is how my parents treated me.
I didn’t feel their love so I was never able to continue growing the love I had for myself.
I was born with love. I was born with confidence and a knowing about who I was, but when you are continuously told either directly or indirectly that you are not good enough, then all of that love and confidence and knowing slowly starts to disappear.
It doesn’t happen over night. It’s a gradual process of layers. Layer upon layer of hate and loathing.
Then add into this your ego.
The ego who was born to protect you. The ego who swiftly lets you know that the reality you are looking at is not your best reality. That this reality cannot be right because there are too many shitty variables to make it so.
And, so those layers continue to build, one on top of the other until all of the good feelings you ever felt are buried so deep you forget that they are there.
And, for me, the only way I could give myself just an ounce of goodness was to have a momentary moment of bliss.
And this bliss came in the form of chocolate, chips, ice cream, cake, biscuits, fast food, fried food, and then eventually it became alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and men.
I punished myself with whatever I could.
Anything to help me feel a little bit of goodness.
But food was definitely my go-to. The one thing I could always rely on. It was my constant. It was my friend, my comfort.
I did know deep inside what I was doing. I knew it wasn’t good for me and I knew I wanted it to go away. I didn’t want to punish myself with food. Yes, it tasted soooo good for all of 30 seconds but what I was left with was even more hated and loathing for myself because of the punishment.
It was a viscous cycle I couldn’t get myself out of.
I was stuck.
But I didn’t want to be stuck.
I wanted to feel good. About myself and my body. And my life. Everything.
How could I do that? How could I begin to feel good about all of it?
It all comes back to the day a voice told me that I didn’t have to be this way any more. That it was possible for me to change. That I have it inside me to be whatever it is I wanted to be. I could stop this insanity whenever I wanted.
But did I want it? Did I want to stop eating all this really yummy food?
No matter how bad I felt. The food was too hard to resist. And, I needed to eat. This was all I knew.
I do need to say this. When this voice came to me I was skinny. I was the skinniest I had been since 13 years old. So, I had lost weight. I exercised my butt off, I ate healthier and I was doing all the “right” things. I became what I thought I was supposed to be.
But this part of me, this punishing part of me, was still there. She was lurking in the background waiting for the moment she could pop out and say, “hey, you feel like shit. Why don’t you eat that really delicious food in the pantry. You know, those chips and chocolate you have hidden in there. The ones you try to resist. Go on. It’ll only be this once. It will help you to feel better”.
And, so I did. I ate my feelings and I used food to punish myself for STILL not being skinny enough, pretty enough, happy enough, loveable enough, worthy enough, and just plain not ENOUGH.
And, I couldn’t understand why I was still punishing myself with food because I got skinny. Isn’t this what you wanted? Isn’t this what you have been trying to achieve for the last 25 years?
How can you still be hating yourself when this is all you have ever wanted?
Outside I looked exactly how I was told I was supposed to look.
But inside, I was a mess. I was still the same fucked up fat girl who hated every inch of her being.
It actually took me years to realise that that was my identity. That was how I saw myself no matter what I truly looked like.
And because of this identity I continued to punish myself with food.
But what I also didn’t realise until really only a few years ago and I kind of have trouble admitting it, I was deeply depressed. And I had an eating disorder.
I was a binge eater. I was an emotional eater. I used food to punish myself and hurt myself.
And, I didn’t know how to stop.
I thought about getting help but I didn’t try to find out who could help me. I was used to doing things for myself so I just left it up to me to figure it out.
I did, though. It took years of work and digging deep down into me but I did it.
The digging is the hard part. Finding out why.
Why was I punishing myself? Why wasn’t I allowing myself to feel better? Why couldn’t I move past this quickly?
And, we are always looking for the ONE solution. That ONE thing that will make all the difference, that will bring you what you need. But there isn’t only one thing.
It takes time to dig beneath those layers, discover what each one of them says about you and then build those layers back up with love and kindness for yourself. As well as empathy and toughness. Questions and answers. Forgiveness and release. Knowing and surrender. Trusting and believing. Allowing and permission.
The voice that spoke to me that day was the beginning. It was the beginning of my exploration into my soul. Into discovering who the real me was. The me beneath all of these layers that I had put there.
The me without the need for punishment. The me who would allow love back into my mind and my body.
Who was she?
Was I ready to find out?
Fuck yeah. I had to because I could not live another day punishing myself with food. I was broken and I was determined to build myself back up again. Whatever that took. Whatever that looked like. Whatever I needed to do, I had to do it.
If I was to begin creating a life I had only dared to dream about then my first thing to do was stop punishing myself with food.
I had to figure out why I needed comfort from food. I had to figure out why I hated myself so much. I had soooo many things to figure out and it felt overwhelming and painful but I knew deep down that this whole process was going to be worth it.
My life depended on it. My health depended on it.
And, I knew food was only a symptom of something so much deeper. My wounds ran deep into the heart of who I was and I needed to heal them.
This whole process has been confronting and painful. I have had to realise so much about myself that I tried hard to ignore.
And, we do that. Don’t we? We ignore the painful stuff because its too painful. It hurts us in ways we don’t want to feel. But it is necessary. It is something we have to do if we are to move through all of the shit we are swimming in in order to get to the other side.
And, that shit. Well, it’s our shit. Its the shit we have piled in on ourselves, those layers and layers of shit getting higher and higher, whilst all the goodness inside of ourselves gets further and further away from the surface until eventually we forget who we are, what we are and that there is so much goodness and beauty and love inside of us.
I was ready to find all of that again. I was ready to dig until my hands bled to find my goodness. To find my beauty and to find the love I had buried beneath all of that shit.
I was ready to STOP punishing myself with food because of the hatred I had for myself and I was ready, SO ready, to love who I was again and love myself with food. Give my body what it was really craving, not those false cravings for sugar and fatty foods, but healthy foods that were going to nourish my body, invigorate my body and LOVE my body.
So, I did. It has taken some time and there is still a bit of work to do but now that I have made the decision to stop punishing myself with food, it gets easier and easier to make more loving choices.
About a year ago I was driving home on my own and I was really craving something to eat. I just had to eat. It was a really overwhelming feeling. But because I have been working so hard to dig through the shit I knew this feeling was more than me wanting to eat.
So I asked the question. Why am I feeling this way? What is it I am really looking for?
And the answer came to me in a wave throughout my whole body. And this wave was the feeling of comfort.
I wanted someone to comfort me. Food was always my go-to when I needed comfort. I didn’t believe I had any one to turn to when I was in need of a hug or a chat so I ate those feelings instead. I pushed them further and further down with food.
I truly believed I was not enough for comfort. I learnt to not ask for any kind of comfort when I needed it, I kept it all inside. I kept quiet about my needs. My needs were not important. So I ate.
I still do this to this day. Not the eating part but the keeping quiet about my needs, my wants, my desires.
It is a lesson I need to unlearn.
Because all of those things are there for me. All of those things are important to me and I am allowed to ask for them.
See, I told you there are many layers that need to be uncovered. That need to be dug through.
And, it really is worth it. I am now in a place where I feel so good 80% of the time. I never imagined that this feeling was inside me. That this feeling could hang around for more than a minute or two.
Especially without food.
Food no longer controls me. Food no longer consumes my life. I love food. I will always love food but now I love food to love myself.
I CHOOSE to love myself with nourishing foods because I know how important they are for the health of my body and I know how important they are for the health of my mind.
Whether you punish yourself with too little food or too much food, are you willing to learn HOW to begin loving yourself again, just as you are right now with foods to support that love?
So that love continues to grow inside of you for the rest of your life, so you can get to a beautiful place of enjoying what you are eating, loving what you are eating and making choices about what you want to eat from a place of love
Dig. Dig. Dig. As deep as you can go. Push the fear aside and go for it.
Dig deep, beautiful. The answers are within you. Your answers are within you.
But, while you’re doing that, digging deep, your shitty voice will be making a racket. It will be in your head reminding you of why you do what you do. Why you punish yourself in the way that you do.
It will not remain quiet. It will pretend to be your best friend by directing you to those places that have been giving you love and comfort in the past.
The trick is to recognise what words are true and which ones are not. You can tell the difference by how they feel. Do they feel good or do they feel like the usual shitty feelings you have been feeling forever?
If they don’t feel good you know what to do… shout “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” to your shitty voice. Let that voice know you are not listening and focus your attention to your digging. Keep digging. Know yourself better. It really does make a world of difference.
Listen to the woman within, learn who you truly are and love every single part of yourself again.
In the meantime, keep on shouting “SHUT THE FUCK UP”.
Here’s a little exercise for you to do:
Ask yourself this “How am I using food to punish myself? And what am I pushing myself for?”
See where these questions take you.
Then you can begin to heal yourself from this form of punishment.