First, let’s understand that I am well beyond what most would consider picky eating. I was born this way, no childhood trauma or anything. I had awesome parents. I suffer from something called ‘SED’ which is Selective Eating Disorder. The fear and anxiety that goes into trying new foods can be overwhelming for folks with SED. I am also a supertaster. I notice things and taste things to a much more extreme than most people. If it is bitter to you, it is three times more bitter for me. If you are not familiar with SED or Supertaster, google these terms. There is tons of information. I just wish there had been more data on it when I was a child … I would not have felt like such a freak for so many years. Feeling like a freak led to low self esteem which led to poor lifestyle choices. I won’t even go into all of THAT right now.
I use to lie about it, hide it, make excuses, etc. I had a million tricks to deal with or avoid social situations where I knew eating someone else’s food would be a problem, or going to a new restaurant, etc. It definitely made dating interesting when I was a young woman. I hated sleep away summer camps.
My husband and I did not become parents, until about 9 years into being married. So our habits of being D.I.N.K.S. (Double Income No Kids) … led to a lot of eating out, a lot of movie popcorn with tons of butter … and not a lot of cooking. Heck, I had those habits BEFORE we got married. I pretty much ate out every meal, at fast food or a restaurant, from about age 14, when I began working and making my own money. I wasn’t on my own at 14, but I pretty much quit eating at home around that time. And if I was pressed for money, as I often was in the early years of adulthood, when I really WAS on my own, I would just eat a big bag of chips because it was cheap and would satisfy physical hunger. As you can imagine, these horrid habits led to severe obesity, where I topped out at 325 pounds, standing only 5’4″ tall. And the soda, oh good grief the soda, I probably drank 6 or 7 bottles of Mt. Dew a day, no exaggeration.
Honestly, I had no interest in making changes or losing weight until I became a parent. I’m not saying you have to be a parent to be motivated enough to change, but for ME, that was the thing … everybody has their own thing. My kid wanted me to swing on a swing and my 325 pound butt would not even fit into the swing, and it was humiliating. I wanted to be an active mom, around for a long time, and I knew I was morbidly obese. The only way I could tackle the obesity (for me) was to tackle the relationship with food. Longevity is my main motivation. I now have four kids. I had my last child at nearly 39 years of age. I really want to live a long time to see grandchildren etc. I still struggle. I had to force myself to learn to cook. But I’m light years beyond where I was.
How do I get up the courage to try something new when it terrifies me? Education, honestly, is the key. I decided to educate myself on how my body works, how nutrition affects the body, etc. Armed with logical and rational data, I brace myself for the anxiety and gather up the courage. I will go through periods where I can try new things, and then I will take a break, because it’s exhausting. I use to do all this privately; but now I talk about it, and make public blogs on the topic, in case there is someone else out there like me, who struggles, and thinks it is all impossible.
Now backing up a bit; since I pretty much became responsible for my own food at age 14 …it was pure freedom to me. I loved it. But with freedom, comes consequences. While I was making all of my own choices regarding food, I was making terrible choices. In every other area of my life I was very driven, did well in school, worked hard, responsible, very active. I only had one sibling and he was gone from our house by the time I was a teenager, so I think my parents just enjoyed the ability to have meals just the two of them and not stress about me. I remember my Dad cooked on weekends; but I loved what he made, pancakes and bacon, so I guess we had that one weekly family time together, every Saturday or Sunday morning.
People ask me if I think I still have SED since I’ve made progress. The answer is YES. I definitely still consider myself SED. I still have struggles sometimes in social settings. I recently went on a two week road trip, alone with 4 kids, staying with family and in hotels. I was quite inconvenienced by my SED a few times, especially regarding my need for ice. I also recently spent four days at Family Church Beach Camp where they provided all of the meals. I hate that. I could only eat about half of what was offered and the rest of the time I was digging into my own stash, but there were no microwaves and no refrigerators which made it much harder to improvise. I still hate vegetables, so I have to get them into me via smoothies or juice. I still love carbs way too much so I have to monitor myself for weight purposes.
Now for those who do not know this; my mom died when I was 17, right before I graduated high school. It was a major unexpected blow and shock. I got a job and moved out and thus began a career-driven young adulthood where I was on my own and ate out every single meal. I ate fast food mostly. Then the weight started piling on.
So people want to know about my ‘process’. How to get from there to here, in a nutshell. I’m not sure how to describe the ‘process’, except that I had a rude awakening of being a parent, being over 300 pounds, and not wanting my children to grow up without a mother if I died young! I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Now, given that my own mom died of heart disease when she was only 45, I just had a reality check of sorts and a very blunt doctor who got me moving, literally. I just started with water exercises. I didn’t worry about food at first, just moving more. Then slowly I decided to replace one bad thing with one good thing, just one at a time. I had started and failed so many dang diets it was ridiculous, and they would always fail because of SED of course. No weight loss diet exists to account for SED, not really. I may make one up, maybe it would be a best seller – but everyone is so different, it’s hard to tell someone else how to do this.
It takes me a long time to get the courage to try something new, it is uncomfortable and I hate throwing up, but I just brace myself for it, do it in the comfort of my own home usually, and just DO IT. I have added several things to my diet this way, but also there are several things that just will never be on my menu, like tomatoes or broccoli or asparagus. I can’t even stand the smell. So the process I guess is setting your mind right, being educated and then knowing you will be uncomfortable and things will be unpleasant, but also knowing it doesn’t last and it won’t kill you! So I gather up the energy and strength and aim for progress, not perfection. I recently ate eggs at a restaurant for the first time. That was HUGE. I only added eggs into my diet in the last few years, but I only ate them at home where I knew exactly what was in them and how they were prepared. It was liberating to be able to order eggs. I was very nervous about it, but it went well. It’s the little things like that which give me courage, motivation and hope. I still have disastrous fails as well, believe me. I ordered roasted chicken at a restaurant where they swore it was NOT spicy. Well, their definition of spicy and mine are completely different. I could not eat the thing.
So with all glory and praise going to God for his Grace and mighty help and intervention in all of this, I open myself up with complete transparency and encourage you to do the THING that makes you uncomfortable. Whatever that may be. Face your fears. You cannot fix what you will not face. So face it, head on, tummy in a whirlwind and nerves on edge … face what you need to face and get yourself uncomfortable. Lace up those shoes, put one foot in front of the other, take one step at a time, and get going. I dare ya.
As always, make champion choices,
The Healthy Habit Lady
July 23, 2014