You Are Not Alone (And Whether Picking Chocolate Chips Out Of The Tub Of Ice Cream Is Illegal)
Please raise your hand if one of these statements applies to you.
Are we agreed?
Then let’s begin.
Have you ever procrastinated all day to go to the gym, and came up with every single reason why you can’t possibly go today? Have you ever asked yourself if you not going to the gym that day means being kind to yourself or just being lazy?
Have you ever had a bag of chips for dinner? And then had dinner?
Have you ever felt a strange satisfaction pooping right before you were about to get on a scale? [That’s like a pound right there! Or two?]
It’s ok it’s safe here.
Have you ever picked chocolate chips out of the tub of ice cream while standing next to your fridge with the freezer door open? Have you felt a rush of embarrassment when someone walked into the kitchen as if you were caught doing something illegal? And perhaps, you were? Is picking chocolate chips out of ice cream legal? How do you know?
Have you ever passed an open bakery window, taking in the smells, and wanting to eat it all?
Have you ever wondered if resisting the temptation to eat it all will always be there? If it will always be this hard?
Have you eaten plain rice or unseasoned pasta like it was ice cream – out of the pot, one spoonful after another, while standing over the sink or the stove?
Have you overheard someone say that “you cannot binge on healthy food”, and smiled sadly, remembering that time you ate three pounds of blueberries? Your poop turned blue, but then again you didn’t mind because you were about to get on a scale, and that’s like a pound right there! Or two?
Have you ever insisted on not buying a pack of cookies, because you knew that you couldn’t have them in the house without eating the whole thing, and then wanted to strangle your significant other when they said: “Well, what’s the big deal, just have one!”.
It is safe here.
Have you ever then marvelled at how someone can have just one? And then move on with their lives?
Have you ever eaten someone else’s food out of the office fridge? You weren’t even sure why you felt compelled to do so, and the crackers were kinda stale, but you did it anyway?
Have you ever started over with a diet multiple times in one week? In one day? You walked into the office, and saw a plate of cookies, or someone’s birthday cake, or boxes of pizza, and it’s like a little switch went off in your brain. We’ll start tomorrow.
Have you ever eaten while sitting on the floor of your kitchen? With your back leaning against the fridge, and your toes pushing into the pantry cabinet?
Have you then called your best friend and told him/her to come over because you are eating while sitting on the floor of your kitchen? With your back leaning against the fridge, and your toes pushing into the pantry cabinet?
Have you ever noticed someone at the gym, and immediately hated them because you’d never look as strong, or as thin or as young as them? Have you ever avoided the gym just so you would not see someone like that?
Have you ever thought that for the amount of training you do you should look like a fitness model? Have you ever wished you were a fitness model?
Have you ever signed up for a marathon, a triathlon or another athletic event, secretly wishing that the training will result in weight loss? Have you felt disappointed and betrayed when it didn’t?
Have you started a detox or a cleanse, claiming to do it for your health, yet secretly wishing that it would result in weight loss? Have you felt disappointed and betrayed when it didn’t?
Have you ever secretly wished that you’d turn into one of those people who do not care what to eat and who treat food as fuel? Or that you’d magically develop a deathly allergy to all things baked, and fried and chocolate? Over night?
Have you asked yourself why you can’t stop eating Nutella out of the jar, and yet bought another jar on your next grocery shopping trip?
Have you ever tried putting on a pair of pants that fit last week, and could not zip them up? Have you told yourself that they must have shrunk in the dryer, knowing it was not true?
Have you ever realized that your favourite piece of clothing does not fit, and surely that means the world is ending? And perhaps, you know that the world is not actually ending, but it definitely feels that way.
Have you ever stared at your stomach for so long that it did not even look like a stomach any more, kind of like when you stare at any word for too long, and the letters start to blur together, and it loses all meaning?
Have you ever tried to gain muscle and strength, and then freaked out when the scale showed a higher number?
Have you ever had a panic attack in a grocery store, because you were surrounded by the foods you “could never eat”?
Have you felt confused and overwhelmed and unable to feed yourself, because you did not know what was good and what was bad any more? Is bread bad? I think it’s bad. What about dairy? That too.
Have you ever been paralyzed by a seeming simple choice – soup or salad? Ketchup or mustard?
Have you ever cried after a meal?
Have you ever made someone cry? After your meal?
Have you ever called someone you love and picked a fight, because you just binged, and you needed to displace that dark empty feeling on someone else? Anyone else? Have you thought to yourself in the moment how much this felt like “drunk dialling” someone, but could not stop?
Have you ever eaten so much that everything hurt, and you could not look at yourself or stand yourself, and so you walked and walked for hours, trying to walk away from yourself? Have you then realized that “yourself” has been walking with you the entire time?
Have you ever had a nagging feeling that you fail at everything you do? That you can never (ever!) be good enough? Have you then felt sad and angry and blamed your parents?
Have you promised yourself that if you ever have children you’d do everything right?
Have you had children?
Did you do everything right?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to not think about food all day every day? And what amazing gifts and talents you could share with humanity if only your cognitive bandwidth was not completely preoccupied with your next meal, with your cellulite, with the inch of fat below your belly button?
Have you then caught yourself estimating grams of protein in your chicken salad, and wondering if you put too much avocado? And whether you should have put in avocado in the first place, because it already has olive oil in it, and isn’t that too much fat?
Have you ever read someone else’s blog and nodded as you read it? Have you felt a warm wave of relief wash over you, because for a brief moment you knew you were not alone?
Have you said yes to any of the above statements?
Congratulations, you have now completed the test.
You are not alone.
*This essay is inspired by zefrank’s TED talk “Are you human?”. It is incredibly, and so worth watching (and it’s only five minutes).