How Falling in Love Helped Heal My Relationship With Food
Feeling unconditionally supported was a new experience for me, and it has made life much more delicious
Throughout my life, my relationship with food has been ever-changing, with only one constant: we do not get along. The exact reasons for that animosity are always in flux. The first hurdle was my diet itself. As a lifelong vegetarian, I have never eaten meat, aside from incidents like the time I found pepperoni slices under my pizza cheese at laser quest. In the 90s and 00s, being a vegetarian was lonely. There were next to no options; whether at school, friends’ houses or a birthday party, my meal was usually just fries, and I didn’t ask for more. Voicing my dietary requirements came with stigma — coming from a poor background, it was considered downright bratty to ask for anything different than what I was offered.
That was only the first hurdle. Dealing with a turbulent home life from a young age, I felt more comfortable eating quickly and quietly in my room alone, where I could avoid potential arguments. Having dinner as a family was rarely an option, making mealtimes a source of anxiety. Relearning that eating can reinforce closeness has been a process, and unsurprisingly, associating food with shame in part led to an eating disorder that peaked in my teens. I felt like I didn’t deserve to enjoy it, and I instilled rigid rules in myself about what, when, how, and even where I could eat.
After I gave up dairy in my early 20s, I took it as an excuse to restrict more, as vegan food was neither fun, cheap, nor widely available at the time.
After I moved out, I took my shame with me. Working full time alongside my degree, I had little time or money to eat. I did so only out of necessity, scarfing down a sandwich while literally running between two bar jobs.
After I gave up dairy in my early 20s, I took it as an excuse to restrict more, as vegan food was neither fun, cheap, nor widely available at the time. Even as delicious options became more accessible, my self-imposed restrictions got in the way. I had never had anyone telling me that food could be fun or…