For a very long time I was afraid of food. Anything fried, loaded with sugar, or packaged scared the crap out of me. I covered this belief up with excuses like, “I want to be healthy” or “I feel better when I don’t eat it”, but let’s be real, the real reason these foods made my heart skip a beat was because of my fear of fat. I’m not talking about the actual fat content of these foods either, I’m talking about the horrible stereotype in my head that fat was bad and thin was good.
Every day when I walked in my kitchen, planned out my meals, or loaded up on egg whites, I was working up to one major goal, to be thin. The problem was that my intense anxiety towards any of these “bad” foods meant that I thought about them often. I obsessed over the cookie my sister ate in front of me. The breadbasket tormented me throughout dinner. I couldn’t focus on a conversation happening in front of me because calories were adding up in my head and my next meal was being planned. I was so afraid of food that I thought about it constantly.
What was I really afraid of though? Sure cookies for breakfast probably didn’t have the best nutritional benefit of all, but I wouldn’t even touch them for dessert. And where did my irrational fear of gluten free bread come from? Yes it is a little more processed than other foods but it’s not exactly a health disaster either.
When I was forced to look at things a little more closely, I started to realize something; all of my fears towards food boiled down to the fact I was actually in fear of fat. I was so fearful of gaining weight that I avoided any and all foods that might possibly contribute to what I saw as my demise as a person and yes; I’m still talking about weight gain. All of this led to a total obsession with food.
I have grown up in a society that is terrified of fat. For a very long time I was to blind to notice, because I myself feared fat. My concern about what I was eating didn’t just have to do with the quality of my health. In fact, I was eating my spinach because it would make me thin, and not because it would give me iron. Every day I headed to the gym to get skinny and not to improve my heart health. It wasn’t until an amazing coach, Isabel Foxen Duke, pointed out exactly what I was doing that I realized it.
Appearance is everything nowadays. We are taught at a young age that fat is bad and thin is good. Fat is unhealthy and thin is healthy. The problem with so many diets however is that they take our fear of fat and teach us to be afraid of food. We become so afraid that we diet, binge, restrict, and feel shame towards something we need to consume daily to live. Now our problem is two-fold. We are fearful of fat, and fearful of food. We feel crazy around food and when we try to solve it by normalizing our eating habits we fail. Why does this happen? Because we are still dealing with the underlying fear of fat.
The first step towards relinquishing your fear of food is to start dealing with your fear of fat. It’s probably there and you don’t even know it. Ask yourself what exactly you are afraid will happen if you gain 10lbs? What are you making fat mean in your mind? Now it’s time to change that definition.