Sarah Cloutier

Food, diet and lifestyle commentator

I have had a turbulent and self-abusive relationship with food.

“I won’t give up coffee/wine/beer/cheese/milk/bread/chocolate – I just can’t” – if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this I would be a rich woman!

The food we are eating is making us sick and we are ‘comfort eating’’ to not feel our hurts – because those hurts are usually self-inflicted, we really don’t want to feel them because it would mean that we have to deal with our self-disregard. Ouch.

So my pattern was not to feel my hurts – eat comfort food (in my case bread, cheese, ice-cream, alcohol) – put on weight – exercise like a maniac (soft sand running and road running; 2-3 miles every day and longer on the weekend) – think the exercise was counter-balancing the food choices, which would justify the comfort diet – and start the whole thing again. I had also introduced the numbing effect from exercise – so the hurts were now muscular so I was less able to feel my deeper hurts. And of course, let’s not forget, is all about ‘Looking Good” so a ‘fit’, lean body is acceptable, no matter the self-abuse!! I was literally running from myself.

And so the cycle of disregard continued – as was my pattern from age 25 to 38 – and even substituting bread with gluten free and cheese with dairy free had the same weight-gain effect because I was not addressing the hurts, just changing the type of comfort food – so my body was still seeing those forms of food as an opportunity to hide again. And the weight was a form of hiding myself with a layer of protection (fat) from the world.

What’s been most profound for me is that I don’t need to eat three meals a day. This is a myth. Sometimes, I don’t need to stop at 1pm and eat a meal. I notice that my team at work at about 3pm are reaching for sugar because they have filled up on carbs (sandwiches, pasta, noodles, sushi, pizza etc etc) at lunchtime and the afternoon is dozy and less-responsive for most of them.

Usually two of my meals are what I would call ‘main’ but the portion sizes are much smaller than those from my previous cycle where comfort and filling up the emptiness was the main focus.

The other realisation is that running is no longer necessary. With my new food choices and portion sizes depending on how I feel, now a spritely morning walk, sit-ups and stretches with light weights are all that’s needed to stay toned and invigorated.

What would happen if we felt our bodies before we ate? Just sat and asked our body what it needed?

The change has been, and continues to be, learning – learning to trust my body and listen to what it needs and not override that truth with what I THINK I want to eat. My fridge is pretty lean – now my Achilles Heel is that I can numb myself by overeating in the excitement of how yummy it tastes because I’m such a creative genius in the kitchen!!

Oh how I LOVE food and it’s expression for us as a reflection of our self-love. It’s so beautiful that we can use food to express our love for ourselves with every measurement, every anti-clockwise stir of the soup, every sprinkle of spice, every glug of olive oil and every self-loving mouthful – when we stop and feel how Amazing we are!