I’m nearing the end of a cross-country move, and the past two weeks have consisted of the seemingly never-ending process of putting together daily Wayfair furniture deliveries. (The end is almost here—thank goodness!)
Faced with two bedside tables whose directions were completely non-sensical, my electrical engineer brother-in-law came over last night to help me tackle the task. For his efforts, I picked up a large pizza and a bottle of Sprite—probably not enough compensation for the amount of time those tables ended up stealing from his life, but a kind gesture nonetheless :)
Ten years ago, last night’s furniture building session would have ended in one of two ways:
1. I would have watched my brother-in-law and nephews eat the pizza, not allowing a slice to touch my lips. I would have envied every bite they took, but I also would have felt somehow better than them, superior because I didn't eat the pizza. The night would have ended with me going to bed annoyed, resentful and empty—both physically and emotionally.
2. I would have watched my brother-in-law and nephews eat the pizza, not allowing a slice to touch my lips. I would have envied every bite they took, but then—the second after they left—I would have picked up my cell phone, frantically dialed Domino’s and ordered an entire pizza—or two—for myself. I would have then proceeded to devour both pizzas, in a trance-like state, alone on my couch before falling into bed filled with self-loathing and self-hatred. I would have woken up in the morning, bloated, and proceeded to run on the treadmill until I decided my guilt and anger were sufficiently assuaged by this physical punishment. I would have then avoided pizza for months.
So what happened last night?
I ate pizza with my family.
I put the pizza in my mouth. I enjoyed my slices. I got caught up in deciphering the near-impossible directions for the bedside tables. I enjoyed my time with my nephews. And then, I went to bed satisfied. I woke up energized, ate a healthy breakfast and tackled my day with happiness and enthusiasm.
All from eating pizza?
Kind of—but not quite.
I will say this again and again on this blog: It is not about the food. The pizza itself doesn’t hold any magical powers; this idea can keep you stuck in the pattern of emotional eating for years, sometimes decades. Bingeing on pizza alone in a dark room does not make you a bad person. And, conversely, not eating pizza does not make you a good person.
Bottom line: Your eating habits are not a reflection of your worthiness as a human being.
The power and happiness that results from the decision to quit dieting, recover from emotional eating and stop purging comes from you. Power comes from you making a decision to not allow food to hold any emotional weight in your life. It comes from your ability to learn the skills to handle challenging emotional states and scary life transitions—like this move I just made. And power comes from you deciding the life you want to live, the person you are meant to become, and choosing to live every. single. day. as he or she would live.
The power in this situation comes from within you; it is not held by the food.
Over the past decade, I have learned that situations like last night's are opportunities to realize that the BS you have been sold—whether it’s from the media, people close to you or your own erroneous belief systems—does not have to control your actions. Allowing yourself to eat intuitively enables you to be fully present in all of life’s moments—good and challenging. You deserve to eat the pizza with your family. You deserve to live a full and happy life where you’re the most powerful person you know. Choosing to eat whatever you want, in every situation, takes the power from the food and brings sit back to its rightful owner—you.