Food Should Be Intimate, Not Intimidating

Trigger Warning: mentions of body image and disordered eating

“112 pounds—I’m done!”

Before hopping onto the plane to the U.S. for college half a month ago, I was living in Asia where ideal thinness reined in women’s body weight concern—tips on losing weight and slim images abounded on social media, and size 0 was the goal for every young woman. Shocked by this record-high number, I was determined to lose weight—meaning that I had to deal with my relationship with food. Stuck to a self-image thought of “I’m really fat,” I made myself a bunch of restrictions on my food intake. 

I kissed goodbye to my lovely toasted cheddar-cheese sandwiches and stuffed my stomach with salad and chicken as much as possible. To make sure everything I ate was sugar-free, I eyed the food nutrition table three times a day every day before darting to the dining hall. I left it blank when selecting sauces for my poke bowl at Basho, and, the worst thing, I felt accomplished when my stomach was rumbling.

Korean food Photo by Jakub Kapusnak from Unsplash

The more I imposed myself with the mantra to slim down to 100 pounds, the more overwhelmingly I was entangled with thoughts food all the time. My mind was preoccupied with what to eat, and I never felt full even after my stomach was filled with bland veggies and steamed meat slices.

Finally, my diet equilibrium broke, and it was followed by endless self-casted blame and lament; I pulled out all snacks I had and ate them all without even chewing. Every bite in my mouth did not aim to fulfill a physical need but instead an emotional one.

My relationship with food was destroyed and left me in shame. I couldn’t get along with my diet, let alone with anything else.

As the endless cycle of dieting and overeating left my stomach unable to digest, I gradually gave up eating food until my stomach hurt, and I was thinking about what I wanted to eat before each meal. I could do nothing at first but skip meals when I didn’t feel like eating, which was a strain to me. Yet, eating less, I noticed myself starting to cherish every single bit of food on my plate—it was the energy to my life, the tastes of my hometown, and the bonds with new college friends.

After half a year of sabotaging my relationship with food, my mind was no longer swept by those imposed diet restrictions. While my weight reversed to my body setpoint, I abandoned keeping track of it every week.  women with different body types Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels Once I was subjected to the stereotype of “ideal thinness,” food became my foe instead of a friend. Passion was running out of my life, which ought to have driven me to pursue something more meaningful, but instead I couldn't help but focus on trivial issues. To rid ourselves of the homogenized definition of beauty and so-called “pitfalls and perils” of high-calorie food, we should reshape our relationship with our bodies and food. 

Each woman, whether oversized or thin, represents a different type of beauty. Instead of blindly pursuing thinness, we should know at which point our body feels most comfortable to us. As we no longer struggle for ideal thinness, getting along with food is no longer an epic challenge. 

I am proud of my body, and I am proudly keen on food. 

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!