It is extremely humbling as a 41 year old woman, Health & Life Coach along with my past education and involvement in “recovery” groups to be at the place in Eating Disorder recovery that I am. It is so freakin’ hard EVERY DAY!
This week after overeating on St. Patrick’s Day, I was telling Dan about it. I realized that I was in the middle of a “Food Confession” with him. It took me back to going to Confession in middle school.
Middle School Confession
Some kids claimed that the priest yelled at them after they told him things. Sometimes we went over to church and did confessions in the actual confessional boxes. Other times, we used a downstairs room and did face-to-face confession. That was especially nerve-wracking and uncomfortable.
Just the fact that I had to be alone with a man possibly old enough to be my grandfather was creepy enough, then on top of that I had to share all the bad things I had done in the past month with him. At the time, I guess I could probably rattle off the reason we were taught as to why this was in our best interests. However, what I really knew was the queasy, unsettled feeling inside of me, the one that screamed, “THIS IS CREEPY, GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
There are several issues here for me:
- I was alone with a man probably old enough to be my grandfather whom I did not have a relationship with.
- I was telling a priest my sins so that he could be the intercessor between God and I so that I could be absolved of them. The message that I got was that I needed this priest or else I was doomed to the gates of hell.
- This practice was so anxiety-producing and demoralizing and certainly did nothing to increase my closeness with God.
Present Day Food Confession
OK, back on track. This week I was telling my husband about a food choice and my feelings after the fact. I felt just like I was back in confession during middle school. I felt bad, ashamed, like I was sharing my ugly secrets that made me dirty. I was deflated and condemning myself.
Why do I often feel like I’m in “Food Confession” when I talk about what I eat? I feel like I’m a “good girl” when I share all the “good” foods that I eat and a “bad girl” when I admit that I have eaten the “bad” foods or eaten in a “bad” way.
Food stuff is tricky for everyone! It’s tricky because of the ridiculous overflow of information and messages that we are inundated with our entire lives, along with changing and contradictory material that we get too.
In the U.S., most of us are so enmeshed in diet culture and don’t even know what it is.
Food in the Beginning
Food from the very beginning of time has been a sticky issue. It was food that God used as the forbidden thing for Adam and Eve in the garden. Isn’t that interesting?
Dating back to the first people, it was food that got them into “trouble”.
We see something here that many dieticians, nutritionists and therapists alike are saying, “the more you restrict certain foods, the more you want them.” It has also been shown that after a period of restriction of a certain food, when that food is reintroduced, a person’s brain receives much more reinforcement and pleasure from that food.
With God, His intentions were deeper than just not wanting Adam and Eve to eat a certain food. It was much more than that. But I truly wonder why He chose to use food as the symbol for it. I believe God knew that food was enticing to us humans. Food is so much more than simply nutritional sustenance to us. Of course God knows this.
Did He choose food to see if Adam and Eve would obey even in a situation where they were extremely tempted day after day as they saw the scrumptious fruit hanging from the tree?
The interesting thing here is that even after Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit that God had told them not to, God didn’t tell them that they were bad. He didn’t shame them. He did provide discipline and consequences, like loving parents do.
It is us that have assigned labels to food and ourselves in relation to it. We have internalized so many things that were never meant to define us. It is possible for us to make an unwise choice and not categorize ourselves as unwise.
I can eat in a way that makes me feel bad without being a bad person.
But this is not the message that we get or tell ourselves most of the time.
As for me, I am going to keep trudging this road, practicing healthier tools in this area of my life. I am going to continue to share about my food experiences because it’s my secrets that make me sick. I am going to be on the lookout for when I may fall into “Food Confession” because they do not serve me anymore and probably never did!
How is this landing for you? Leave a comment below and share, I love to hear from you!!