My Screwed Up Relationship with Food

So I tried to post this late Saturday night, but for some reason WordPress wasn’t being nice to me.  So here are my thoughts as of about 3 AM this past Sunday morning…

Today I meant to spend the whole day writing my thesis (IS).  Instead I spent it watching every episode of Being Human, stuffing my face with ‘hint of lime’ tortilla chips, and toggling my computer screen between my IS and Facebook.  Although I have realized that I work better late at night, so I am trying to take advantage of that right now, but even with coffee that isn’t turning out as successful as I’d hoped.  So I figure if I write here I am still indirectly working on my project, even if it’s not in the way I want right now.  Have I mentioned I’m a chronic procrastinator?

Anyway the “stuffing my face with ‘hint of lime’ tortilla chips” has brought me to this post…

So…yes I am doing extremely well with this whole idea of loving who I am and accepting my body.  It’s really been liberating for me and I am so grateful to have discovered fat acceptance and HAES blogs as they’ve been a great help in that.

However, I am still struggling with some issues on the periphery.  First off, I have a screwed up relationship with food and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to fix it.  I eat regardless of hunger.  I just eat and eat sometimes.  When I’m home I find myself wandering into the kitchen looking for food and then asking myself why I am there when I’m not even hungry at all.  Sometimes I’m even completely full.  It’s like my legs are on autopilot though.  Like I don’t consciously realize that I’m doing it until I already have the fridge open or until I’m done stuffing my face.  When I’m at school I don’t have a kitchen to walk in and out of, but when I’m at the dining hall I often eat to a point where I feel terribly bloated and uncomfortable.  I think part of this has to do with the rigid 3-meal-or-less-a-day structure implicit in a college dining hall system.  I’m sure it also has something to do with the fact that there is so much food available….but I do know that this food will be available the next time I sit down for a meal.  It’s not like I’m eating a last meal.

I know that I’m not a bad person for my overeating.  I know that there are other things at work here.  I also don’t like it because I make myself feel like shit and also because I don’t like obsessing about food.  But I can’t for the life of me figure out how to stop.  If food is in front of me, or available, I eat it regardless of whether I am hungry or not.  I didn’t go to dinner tonight because I ate that whole bag of chips.  I didn’t mean to…but it was there, so I did.  I also know that I stress eat and I eat when I am trying to avoid something (like writing IS).  I never keep food in my room, mainly because it doesn’t last long when I do try to.  I’m jealous of my friends who have a stocked fridge and snacks laying around for when the mood strikes them.  Because if it were me, I’d have to actively resist eating it all in one day.

I’m probably making my eating habits sound worse than they really are.  It’s not like I go on a rampage, eating everything in sight.  I just do a lot of unnecessary eating and I don’t even think I enjoy it, like one should when it comes to unnecessary eating.  Like when I go for those cookies after I’m done with lunch in the dining hall.  My stomach is stuffed and they really are mediocre cookies that I could take or leave.  But I reach for them anyway.

I think I really need someone to talk to about this.  We have counselors here at school that I could see for free…but I’m skeptical that they would be equipped with what I need, or be understanding of how to approach this from a haes perspective.  I’m not sure.

This is just one of those things that makes me a bit frustrated with myself.

In other news…it is now 3:41 AM Wednesday morning and I am pulling what I think will become my weekly Tuesday night all-nighter.  This month is crunch time for my IS.  Wish me luck.

OH!  In other news!!  My wonderful, amazing, talented, delightful mother has knit me a beautiful and super classy sweater!!  She’s been working on it on and off for a few years now and I finally received it in the mail last Friday!  I am so in love with it.  She worked so hard on it and she wanted to make sure it fit well and that I would like the style.  And it is PERFECT.  Here is a picture á la headless fatty because I am a fan of my internet anonymity…

Isn’t it wonderful?? If there are any knitters reading this… the pattern is called “Central Park Hoodie”

I absolutely adore my mom.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa on February 10, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Hi there:) If you have any history at all of dieting, I strongly suggest you read “Overcoming Overeating” by Munter and Hirschmann. It’s about compulsive overeating/binge eating and how to stop, and they are pretty HAES oriented. Counseling might also be really helpful if you were able to find a therapist with training in eating disorders, and supportive of HAES. I spent years eating compulsively, without paying attention to my own hunger/satiety cues and dieting. I was either restricting or overeating and totally out of tune with my insides. I have recovered using the Overcoming Overeating approach, a good therapist, HAES and lots of self-love. Good luck!


    • Thanks for the recommendation!! I will definitely look into it….after my big project is due and I have time to read for myself again.


  2. Posted by HeatherJ on February 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

    As someone else who has recovered from overeating/binge-eating problems using Overcoming Overeating, I also heartily recommend it. It’s no exageration to say that book has changed my life.

    I’ve gone from someone who, like yourself, obsessed about food and had to eat whatever was in front of me, to someone who has stocked cupboards and fridge full of my favourite food but who only usually eats them when hungry. This change has taken me a year and is truly a miracle for me.

    I too used to be jealous of people who had a normal relationship with food, and never thought that I would be one of them.

    Good luck!


    • It’s nice to know that someone else has had similar feelings. I will definitely check out this book that everyone is talking about…I especially would like to start getting this sorted out for when I start living on my own next year. I will be on a tight budget and do not want all the groceries gone in 2 days!


  3. Just chiming in with another recommendation for Overcoming Overeating. You can find your hunger again, for realz! Good luck.

    Also, the central park hoodie looks fabulous on you! Tell your mom she did a wonderful job!!!


    • Thanks! And I will let my mom know! (Even though I have done nothing but gush to her about how much I love the sweater ever since I received it!)


  4. Oh wow, do I ever know where you’re coming from with this. And there are a lot of books out there meant to help with this (OO was mentioned, and there’s also Intuitive Eating, etc.) Gurze books is a good resource for these things: – especially in the “healthy eating” category of the site:

    (Even though their url is “” they actually have books on all manner of eating issues, so don’t be put off by that.)

    Anyhow, I tried doing the OO approach and Intuitive Eating by myself, but I found it difficult. Eventually I had to see a HAES-practicing dietitian to get sorted out, and that was the thing that ultimately helped me. That was about five years ago. Now I use the same technique (called “how to eat” or “treating the dieting casualty” which is based on the work of Ellyn Satter) with my own clients. I love it.

    Anyway, good luck to you. I know this it’s hard, but there are lots of options out there. One of them will be right for you.


    • Thanks for your tips and encouragement! I really appreciate it. I have been following your blog for a while now and I’m so impressed with what you do both professionally and in your blog! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my posts!


  5. Posted by Katie on February 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I started reading Overcoming Overeating some number of years ago and saw something in the book that I couldn’t accept and put it down. I have come to realize that I was wrong and the book was right and I’m going to start reading it as soon as I can find it in the house.

    Another book I’d recommend wholeheartedly is Eating by the LIght of the Moon. It’s a book about disordered eating and different aspects of disordered eating are shown through folktales. The book really spoke to me. It’s not a perfect book, it’s a little dated, and focuses a little bit more on anorexia and bulimia than overeating, but not so much it muddles the core message, like I said, it just feels a little dated.

    I would also recommend therapy, but only if you can find the right therapist, the wrong therapist will do more harm than good.


  6. Posted by Anna on February 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Food= security to many people. Of course! I always had my dorm room well-stocked, with relatively nourishing food (considering the situation)– dry soups I could add hot water to, crackers. So you could stock nourishing foods that you like OK, or if that feels restrictive (maybe you don’t like what I mentioned!) you can stock up on whatever you want, that you can keep in your dorm room. That made me feel safe (knowing I could always eat if I needed to), and you have the right to that feeling, too!

    On getting help, I would look for a therapist at your school clinic, but make it clear up-front–no bad talk about your body, no diet talk, no weight loss talk. You want to fix your eating independent of the effect on weight. If they can’t stick to that, they can refer you to someone else. You could also request someone sensitive to this when they ask you what issues you want to talk about. You get to frame the discussion and they are there to help you deal with your feelings.

    You absolutely can get past all this, but it takes some serious work. You are clearly already on the path and with all the great advice here as well as your inner strength, will go far.


  7. Posted by Whitney on February 11, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Ali I adored this blog post. You are Augustus Gloop. HEART! You can eat my snacks anytime.


  8. Posted by Beth on February 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I’ve been reading the responses to My Screwed up Relationship with Food and can’t find what the initials HAES stand for. Can you let me know? Thanks


    • Hey Beth! HAES stands for Health at Every Size. It is the idea that health should be moved away from being connected with weight we should accept our bodies no matter what size they are because it is possible to be healthy at any size. Instead of trying to lose weight, we should be exercising for fun and to feel good and we should be eating when our body tells us to rather than dieting. Here is a resource if you want more info (that may describe it better than I am)…


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