About this Blog

Welcome! Thanks for checking out On Food Stamps.

I created this blog in 2009 when I began working at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. My work at this organization opened my eyes to food justice issues in America, and I had a strong desire to better understand the difficulties many people face when trying to access healthy food on a limited budget. So, I embarked on my own Food Stamp Challenge, living on $31/week as a vegan. I used this blog to chronicle my experience.

While my Food Stamp Challenge project has come to an end, you can see what I learned from it by reading the Greatest Hits posts linked to the right side of the page. Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.

Stay Hungry,


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Late Night Text

Got the following text from my best high school friend last night:

Think im eating too much to compensate for feeling inadequate!

This text followed her update to me that a situation with a certain boy had not gone as she'd hoped. I was super impressed that she wrote that down and sent it to me. How many of us know but never admit that we're eating in direct response to our emotions?

When I think of emotional eaters I think of a girl that just got cheated on wolfing down a gallon of Ben and Jerry's while watching Bridget Jone's Diary. So, if I'm not doing that, then I'm not an emotional eater, right?

False. I have been known to eat because I'm bored, to reward myself for something (ironically, that something is sometimes exercise!), even to punish myself for something. Yes. I have certainly eaten junk to "punish" myself for eating junk in a sick guilty cycle. Its that whole "Well, I already fucked up my healthy eating streak... might as well go all the way..." mentality. All too familiar at holiday time! As if I need me to help me make it harder to get back on track after the holidays are over. Alas, sometimes I do it.

Why not just savor the treats in moderation and then stop when I've had enough instead of sliding down that icy slope? I think that in my case it is because guilt gets wrapped up in there and makes me "hate" myself a little bit for eating something I don't think I should eat. Once I get in that "self-hate" mindset, no matter how subtle it is, I am more likely to continue to bring myself down. I feel weak and powerless because I gave into the bad food once, so it is that much easier to do it again.

What would break the cycle?

Probably detaching that guilt and self judgement would help. When I write it out it seems very cruel to admonish oneself for too many Christmas cookies, no? But I know that in a subconscious way, that is my mental process.

The text conversation progressed as follows:

Me - Major step twds stopping is realizing that. I swear therapy has helped me lose weight more than exercise haha
Her - Haha i know. Cheers to drinking water when u feel u want to eat!
Me - or tea!

It is true what I said to my friend. I have been taking much better care of my emotional health in the last 6 months, and it has actually greatly improved my diet and physical health. I am a real believer in the strong bond between spiritual, emotional and physical health. Journal writing, therapy and self love really do do wonders for the body.

Now here is the thing. So far I have been talking about Christmas cookies in my parent's nice comfortable house in New England, or cupcakes at a co-workers birthday. I am talking about my emotional relationship to eating sweets, but I want to add in another element.

What if instead of Christmas cookies I was talking about fast food. And, instead of just eating it myself, I was feeding it to my children. The guilt was not only a matter of the food being tasty but fattening, it was also a matter of money and time. In addition to beating myself up for not having enough self control to resist the fatty indulgence, I might also feel guilty that I do not have the time or the money to feed my children low-calorie, nutritious foods. They rarely get enough vegetables and are both slightly pudgy from the fast food heavy diet. I would not only feel "weak" for giving in to the forbidden food and setting that example for my kids, I would also feel inadequate because I was unable to provide for my children in the way I wanted to. Talk about feeling powerless.

I know that if that were my situation, I would find it pretty hard to scrape my emotions off the linoleum kitchen floor and get myself to a Farmers' Market to buy some raw vegetables to cook, weather or not they accept my Food Stamps. Would I have the confidence to waltz into that market, pick up an unfamiliar vegetable and bring it home to cook?

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