Years ago, I hired a health coach to help me lose weight. I believed that she knew secrets that I didn’t know and with her guidance, I would achieve results that had eluded me.
One of the first things she asked me was “how long does it take you to eat?”. I readily confessed that I was a fast eater– that I had always been and I didn’t think I could change that about myself. She poked around a bit — and I resisted with enough excuses and stories to fill a super Wal-mart.
In that moment, I wasn’t ready to go deeper into that habit to see what lay beneath it. And so I thanked her politely and told her that I could handle it on my own (aka– you just struck a nerve I’m not prepared to address).
Interestingly enough, when I started writing last week about my vacation eating habits and how I uncovered some secret rules, I hit that nerve again. Why do I eat so fast? The behavior oddly enough goes back a very long time.
I was in 2nd grade when my parents put me on a diet. Wow— I was 8 or 9. There was a chart and I was rewarded with toys for obeying the diet rules & guidelines.
I remember sitting at breakfast with my sister who was “allowed” to eat whatever she wanted. We were having pancakes. I wanted to put maple syrup on mine. My father reminded me that I could no longer have (aka enjoy) maple syrup. How about jam I asked? Nope, that was also off limits now too.
Somewhere in that experience, I internalized the belief that pleasure (especially in eating) was for other people, not me. Part of my secret rules revealed that I didn’t truly believe I deserved or was allowed to savor pleasure. So I rush it. A quickie without the lights on. Like I snuck into the movies and didn’t belong there. Afraid I would be discovered actually enjoying something after I was publicly told I was not allowed to– so I did what made sense to my 9 year old self, I hid it.
And all of the closet eating (eating when no one is watching) was about eating pleasure that part of me had been told was “bad”, “wrong”, “not for you”. I carried the weight of that contradiction around with me for a long time. A heavy pile of confusion about what I should do. An obsession with what was forbidden that never ended. Of course, I layered on shame and guilt— to make my quickies even worse than the morning after walk-of-shame.
I don’t want rules anymore. I don’t want guidelines. I want truth. I want to honor my body and trust her wisdom. I want to sit down with this visually stunning and delectable meal before me and enjoy each morsel like the world revolved solely around my pleasure.
No more quickies. I deserve all the pleasure I can hold. We all do.