The Diet Equation

For years food was nothing more than that: food. I ate it three times a day, and sometimes, as a special treat, I would venture outside of my own fridge and get an ice cream cone or a doughnut at Safeway. I ate food to nourish myself. I ate food for sustainability. I ate food for pleasure and enjoyment. I ate food because, for years, it was nothing more than food.

As time progressed, something switched. It was such a slow switch I didn’t recognize it taking over. Food slowly began to take on an entire new meaning to me. Food became a platform to judge one’s worth and integrity. Food created a foundation for judgement, fear and self-hatred. Somehow, I unconsciously learned certain foods were good and certain foods were bad. This took a while to latch onto, but I eventually grasped it with all my might. I could now look at a food and choose between good and bad, the doughnut at Safeway was now bad, and if I ate it that meant I was bad. Society provided me with an image of food that made me feel less than.

By the time I was ten food scared me. The thing that I once looked at as a fun treat, the thing I used to nourish myself, the thing that sustained me and kept me alive, this very thing sent me into terror. If I ate “bad” foods I was bad, what else could I possibly think. 2+2=4, so bad food+me= bad me. It became a simple math equation; however, food was far from simple.

If I eat the cookie I’m bad. If I enjoy the lasagna I’m wrong. If I dare to eat two pieces of cake, because it tastes so good, I am worth less than dirt. This math equation ran through my head like song lyrics, and slowly I realized there was a way to redeem myself. To reverse this equation all I had to do was stop eating these bad foods. This would bring me a sense of strength and willpower that could follow me everywhere, and after so long of judging myself these seemed like two wonderful qualities to have by my side. I knew, with complete certainty, that strength and willpower would taste so much sweeter than sugar and fats.

As I exchanged sugar and fats for self-worth, my entire world changed. Society rewarded me with compliments and showered me with attention. What society didn’t know was, I had lost the pleasure of food and the worth I thought I would gain was nowhere to be found. All I was left with was exterior worth. The individuals around me began to envy my so called strength; however, all the strength I once had vanished into thin air.

My world shrunk into nothing but the difference between these good and bad foods. This math equation became more and more complicated. All of the sudden, 2+2 equaled 5. It just didn’t make sense, even though I wasn’t eating bad foods I felt like the worst person in the world.

My diet equation, the same one I spent years making perfect, made no sense and I was completely lost. I moved every variable and double-checked all my work, and still the answer didn’t fit. Finally, I found people willing to rearrange this equation with me so it made sense. This is when things began to change, I learned that foods were not good and bad, they were foods. 2+2 was equalling 5 because those 2’s were nothing but frauds. 2’s that took the place of reality.

Now this equation all makes sense. 2+2=4, 3+3=6, and me + a doughnut= a nourished, satisfied me.