Once Upon a Fat Girl

Sunday, July 02, 2006


In my reading about non-dieting, once technique I've come across for combating binging is creating abundance by stocking lots of food in your house. This got me thinking about how the food in my house effects my eating, and therefore my weight.

I was not a fat child. In my mom's house, we always had enough food. I remember going to Grandma's house and she had tons of food, too. Good grandma-food like toast and jam, frozen Twinkies, graham crackers that she used to let us grind up in her little old fashioned grinder and eat with a spoon. And strawberries that we dipped in powdered sugar. The only time I ever binged at my mom's house was when we came home from a visit to my dad.

It was an entired different story at my dad's house. Where my mom kept her house filled with food, my step-mother and dad shopped several times a day, buying only enough for the next meal or two. And since they had so many kids (nine, where my mom only had three), there was always, always a feeling of there not being enough. There were no second helpings. And if I tried to put what my step-mother or dad thought was too much on my plate, I was reprimanded.

It got worse when I was thirteen and I moved in with my dad. The reasons behind that move are another story...it wasn't a good move for me. Two years later my dad was in prison for mail fraud and I was alone with my step-mother, who hated me, and a litter of tiny brothers and a step-sister, Alison.

Alison and I, once we were both adults, talked about our relationship to food and how it was affected by those years when my dad was gone. Her mother is an alcoholic, recovered now. She is a teacher, and she used to leave for school on Friday and come home on Monday morning to get ready for school again. She left us all weekend with no money. Unfortunately she still had the habit of shopping for each meal, going to the store in the morning for cereal and milk and in the evening for dinner. Which meant that when she was off binging on alcohol, she left us with very little food in the house. I often had to feed the kids canned corn and refried beans, or whatever I could cobble together.

I don't remember ever actually going hungry. There was always something. But we ate frozen burritos or frozen pizza for dinner three or four nights a week. Canned chili was a biggie, too. I still can't eat those three foods. And when the food was gone, the cupboards were bare. I was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years old, and constantly worried about how I was going to feed five little boys.

When I was sixteen I started working at fast food restaurants. My first job was at KFC. Just before I started that job, I was offered a job at the library as a clerk. I turned it down. I have often thought of that decision and wondered what the fuck I was thinking. For a book-ie like me, the library would have been a perfect job. I met Adrienne and Nick's dad working at KFC. I gained enough weight working at KFC to be heavy for the first time in my life. That decision was definitely a turning point in my life! When I think back on it, the reason I turned down the library job was because the prospect of having as much KFC food as I could eat was too tempting.

Anyway...Alison and I both grew into adults with the same food issue. Both of us are extremely uncomfortable if we don't have 'enough' food in our houses. I get anxious and upset when the food in our house gets too low--even though 'low' means we could eat for two weeks and still not go through it all. I buy 'staples' like canned foods, dry beans and pasta, rice, etc. that never get eaten, just because it makes me feel better to have it. Kevin recently threw away some canned food that had been in my house since before we met...in 2002.

So I'm an adult now. And that not-enough feeling is still hard to deal with. I still get anxious if I feel like there isn't enough food in the house. I still have a hard time ordering a small portion of food at a restuarant, even if I'm only a little hungry. I still have a tendancy to use food as a way of reminding myself that I'm not that little girl whose afraid she won't be able to feed her brothers anymore.

The idea of creating abundance of food in my house is appealing on so many levels. And terrifying on so many more. The past two months I've been eating whatever I want--but only buying single servings of it. Creating abundance would mean keeping more pints of Ben and Jerry's in my freezer than I could possibly eat one sitting--then replenishing it when I eat some. The idea being that what triggers binging is the idea that you can't eat something, for whatever reason.


I didn't workout yesterday. Ruby didn't wake up from her nap in time for me to get to the Y before her swimming lesson--and after her lesson, I was wet and covered in chlorine and just didn't feel like sweating. I did swim some laps.

Today the plan is to get my hour long bike ride in. Should happen, since Kevin has the day off :) He's taking the big kids to Moapa tonight--there's an Indian reservation firework stand with a big cement platform for setting off bottle rockets and other fireworks. So they'll do that and bring home some safe and sane stuff for Tuesday.


Blogger Sonya said...

I just wanted to say that I think you're really amazing for having the insight to realize what your triggers are. For me, it's still really hard to go back in time and figure out why my eating tendencies are what they are...but it's really courageous and admirable of you to be able to acknowledge your upbringing.

After all that you've been through, I have no doubt that you'll be strong and successful in your weight loss journey.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Chee Ken Whengs said...

Wow, my first job was at KFC, too. Only it was reverse for me though. That was the time in my life that I started losing weight (maybe because I got tired of the smell of fried chicken). At my employee meals I'd just eat a garden salad and a rotisere wing or I'd just give away my free meal to some skater friend who doesn't have any money to buy a meal of his own.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Joyce said...

your insightfulness is such an integral part of your healing process. Once you have awareness, you have choices.
I'm proud of you.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I agree with Sonya. I think it's pretty cool that you can look back and see those triggers forming.

Once you know what those are you can learn how to change/avoid them.

8:58 AM  

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