Donut Worry, be Happy
How I learned to give my body a break
Image Courtesy of AJEL, Pixabay
by Natasha Doris
Think about the relationship you have with your body. What do you picture? Think about the relationship you have with your studies. What’s the first thing you see? When our lives pick up and the pace is dialled up too fast, the frenetic rate at which we live can overwhelm us. If you have a disordered mentality where body image is concerned, believe me when I say it is challenging. Something clicked for me last year, and perhaps you will find that it connects with you, too.
Sleep, go to class, study, cook, clean, work, go to the gym, repeat. We are trying to achieve a superhuman state of productivity with the twenty-four hours we have in a day. We must be good students. We must cook. We must keep fit. We must have a social life. We really must sleep. We must receive validation and we must be worthy of love and friendship.
Many of us have had a relationship with our bodies which has been cruel to say the least. Maybe you wake up and, terrified, scrutinise your waist for the evidence of that one donut you ate last night. Perhaps you avoid mirrors for fear of that voice in your head screaming obscenities at you – you shouldn’t have had that pizza for dinner, that cake, that biscuit – it follows you around, it doesn’t let you rest. Maybe you’ve turned to food as a way to gain some handle of control over your otherwise chaotic life. I know I have. For so long.
What has slipped from your control? Did exam season send your life into a tailspin? Did that date promise to message you before you never saw him again? Was that grade lower than you thought it would be? Stop! Put the calorie counting app down. Stop running up endless miles on the treadmill. Stop obsessing over the exact number of micro-calories in that teaspoon of butter, sugar or egg yolk. Because you may tell yourself it’s in the pursuit of fitness, of wellbeing, but really, it’s not. It’s a form of self-flagellation which will only get worse with every guy who ghosts you, every class which leaves you frustrated, every late morning and missed study hour you regret.
Last exam season, I was in a panic to study up on everything. I could not sleep in, I could not miss an hour at the library, I absolutely couldn’t slip up at all. My flatmate caught me frantically tallying up the calories as I meal-prepped, everything calculated to the last carrot stick, and I realised that something had gone terribly wrong.
I was using food as a crutch to find control where I felt I had none in my life.
When I had no closure for a date I never heard from again, when I felt I would never be ready for exams, when that essay deadline was hurtling my way like a bullet train, I turned to food to control something, anything, in my life.
The rationale is twisted. If I control my food, I can control my studies. If I eat an inhumanly tiny amount of food, maybe the next guy won’t ghost me (it’s not you – he’s a jerk. Get off Tinder, you have terrible taste in men). It may be scary, it may be frightening, but believe me. It is crucial. When we learn to love ourselves, when the next guy is no longer our crutch for validation, when we run for joy and eat because we want to thrive, not starve – then we will be whole.
I know that food is a foothold for you. I know that you want to push yourself, you want to feel worthy, you want to feel control over the thing that has your happiness in a vice. I know it’s not easy. The worthwhile things in life never are, and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that is more worthwhile than your happiness and your wellbeing. Stop counting those calories. Smash that mirror if you look at your waistline again. Stop crying over that jerk.
You are worth so much more than the number on that scale, and you are so much stronger than you know.
Let’s make peace with our bodies and with ourselves. Life is stressful enough without the mental baggage of our clothing size. Bask in the sunshine. Hug someone close to you. Meet a stranger in a coffee shop. And eat that donut, because life is just too short to question the calories when something is that delicious. I’ll eat one on your behalf. To a brighter, happier you and me. Cheers.