As cliché as it is to say, I love food. To the point where I let it rule my life for a good while. For a few years in high school and college, I would even unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) plan my days around meals. It may have felt good, but it wasn’t healthy at all.
A little background on me: I’ve always been a small and relatively thin person. I’ve also always loved sweets! When I was 15, though, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, a chronic illness that affects the gastrointestinal system. For a variety of reasons related to the illness and the medications I was taking, I gained a lot of weight my last two years of high school.
Feeling embarrassed and ashamed of that, I began using sweets and comfort food more and more as coping mechanisms, which created a cycle of weight gain, negative emotions, and stress eating that lasted for years.
Whenever I would talk about my struggles with my family, they would advise me to stop eating so many snacks and sugary foods, and try limiting my portion sizes. Because I used food so much as an emotional crutch, I often became very defensive when they would say these things.
I would argue that I was fine—that it wasn’t the food that was the problem. Yikes.
The summer of my sophomore year in college, I decided to start doing something different. I started going to the gym and *trying* to eat more healthily. I failed miserably at the diet part, but I managed to make cardio and HIIT workouts a part of my routine that I still keep to this day!
I was finally aware of my problem with food, but it took several years and lots of trial and error before I found a solution that worked for me. And it started with portion control.
Trust me, I get why certain people would be upset with a company like Macy’s for putting out a very tacky and tone-deaf portion control product. They executed it in all the wrong ways, but they’re also kind of right.
Caption: Who actually wants this?
In my opinion, advocating for healthy portions and being body positive aren’t mutually exclusive. Healthy portions are simply one part of creating a sound mind and body.
My foray into building better portions started simple. I used to love eating sugary foods at night (my idea of a treat after a long day of college), so instead of eating two cookies, I’d eat one. That led me to start thinking more critically about my other meals as time went on.
It was a stupidly slow process for me, but I had a very complicated relationship with food to untangle myself from.
Now, six months after graduating from college, I follow a vegetarian diet and eat vegan whenever possible. I also made a pact with myself to quit eating food with added sugar—something I thought I would never be able to do. But I did, and I’m enjoying the challenge. Do I slip up sometimes and eat bacon? Yes. Do I still have occasional sugar cravings? Yes! But now, instead of beating myself up about it and giving up before I even really start, I forgive myself and keep moving forward.
I still love food, but I try my best not to let it become a part of my identity now. And I feel much more in control.
Obviously my story won’t be relatable to everyone, but I hope that people come to realize that portion control doesn’t necessarily equal disordered, restrictive eating. As with anything, when used in a healthy manner, it can help people develop more autonomy when it comes to their diet, their health, and their mindset.