Food is my Love Language

And my greatest source of anxiety. (10X100: Day Two)

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I started cooking for my brothers and sisters when I was ten or eleven years old. I remember the first time I made dinner for them, all by myself. It started with looking through a giant cookbook full of beautiful pictures and choosing a recipe — tomato pie.

The book said to serve it with crusty bread and butter and a green salad.

That felt so fancy.

Right now my house smells like slow cooked beef for tacos.

I know it sounds corny, but for me, that is what love smells like.

So food is my love language. But also? Food is my biggest source of anxiety.

Starting from when I was fifteen and continuing until I was about thirty, I was the kind of poor where you’re not quite sure how you’re going to feed yourself and the people who are counting on you to feed them.

I always had children to feed. First my younger siblings, and then when I was barely out of my teens, my own kids. And for a long time, there just wasn’t ever quite enough.

Not quite enough of my love language. Can you imagine how that felt? How it still feels, even now when I haven’t had less than a thirty-day supply of food in my house for more than a decade?

That’s the root of my eating disorder. It’s the thing that still holds me in its grip — even though I can’t binge anymore. It’s the thing that I constantly struggle with.

Sometimes, I don’t even know if I’m eating too much. Or not enough. Isn’t that stupid? Keeping a food log helps. It reminds me to be aware and mindful of what I’m eating.

It helps me keep food just . . . food.

I’m thinking of switching after today, though, to just keeping a food journal in my notebook. I don’t care about the calories or the macros. I just don’t want to look up and realize I’ve eaten a whole box of Triscuits or cookies without even noticing that I did it.

Isn’t it crazy that I can still do that, even after having most of my stomach removed?

If food is my love language, then I want to respect it.

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and she is the original Ninja Writer.