In case you couldn’t tell from my recent barrage of disgruntled tweets about Points Values, calories, and my lack of Pinot Noir, I am on a diet. This is the first diet of my entire life—except for the impromptu wine diet of summer 2010, which was fueled by relationship hardships and provided the increased calorie count that paved the way for this new, real diet.
I recently came to realize that I lost the script—and like lost it big time.
Through all the dramatic highs and woes of the past year-and-a-half, I unknowingly fell victim to the dangerous cycle of emotional eating. Between the almost-breakups and make-ups with my boyfriend—um, now fiancé—to job stress, financial ups and downs, and the shaky freelance world, it’s been a tough uphill battle. The more and more things went haywire, the more I resorted to my social life that revolved around pleasure and comfort. That meant going out for dinner and drinking as much red wine as I could get away with before it was hangover territory.
The scariest part: With my culinary pleasure-seeking came the major reduction of quality time spent between the sheets. I shudder as I wonder how this even happened. How did food come to replace sex, which has been such an important aspect of my life and an integral part of my quest for self-exploration? And, most importantly, how did I not notice this happening? How did I get so trapped in this vicious cycle that I didn’t even see the effect it was having on my life?
My boyfriend and I were both guilty of putting a pizza party above sex on our priority list, especially when things got tough. And in the process, my body went from a well-proportioned vixen physique to a super-sized version—and all in a matter of two years. My boyfriend and I become coconspirators in our need to find warmth in a carb overload, our sex life taking a backseat as our daily stresses and pent up emotions became too much to bear—and too hard to ignore for the length of a sexy encounter.
I had never recognized the correlation between sex and food before. I mean, sure, they both provide satisfaction, help to spike serotonin, and they both can be described using many of the same terms. But, being an inherently sexual creature, it was hard to wrap my mind around how one act could easily replace the other in times of stress and unhappiness. Much like my relationship to sex, my friendliness towards food was never unhealthy. Sure, I ate and enjoyed going out for dinner, but it wasn’t the driving force that it, up-until-recently, had become.
Strangely enough, the scale initially began to tip towards an unhealthy relationship with all-things edible once my boyfriend and I moved in together and began to settle comfortably into our personal iteration of domestic bliss. Part of our bonding ritual was enjoying food together post- or pre-coitus—whether that meant visiting our favorite foodie haunts or me slaving over the stove—eating became a kind of foreplay. It also didn’t help that watching me cook is a major turn-on for my man, but that’s a whole other story…
The more settled we became, the more I got lost in the bliss of indulgence and the act of satiation—whether that was sexual or food-wise, I was finding comfort and safety in both forms of fulfillment. But as time went on, and as life happened, the sex slowed down but the eating didn’t. Soon it almost began to replace sensual pleasures during our hardest times.
Although it has taken a while to fully understand and recognize these recent destructive patterns and my unhealthy coping mechanisms, it’s not all that surprising. I spent a large portion of my life relying on external things to quell my own personal demons and the daily stress of a basic mundane existence. Whether it was drugs, alcohol, shopping, or inappropriate romantic choices, there was always a diversion, something else I had to focus on that drew the attention away from me and my problems. Facing things head-on has never been easy for me, and now, trying to embrace my life as an adult, it has gotten even harder.
Food is plain and simply drugs for grownups. We fuss over new hard-to-get-into restaurants, coo about freshly-picked peaches at the overpriced farmers market, or brag about a decadent whole-pig roast we attended over the weekend the way we would about 20-something sexual conquests and debauched nights that used to define us. While I am easing into my thirties with grace—and a new diet—I don’t want to replace one compulsion for another. It’s time for a detox from all the distractions. It’s time to face life without the armor of excess.