10 years ago, working in pubs, I had a reputation for eating huge amounts of rich and bizarre foods while being very skinny. Stuff like poutine pizza or a steak sandwich that was a literal steak between burger buns.
Naturally peeps were like oh how can you be so skinny eating like that? and I took it for granted that I just could.
But really it’s because I was an accidental anorexic. I’d eat nothing all day and then naturally crave the most high fat, high carb, most oversized meal by the evening at work. And then I’d have nothing but beer and Jameson for the rest of the night. So I was eating like 800 calories a day and drinking 800 more.
And that habit was built on the time before I drank and worked in bars when I was in school and I ate nothing. I’d wake up too late to eat breakfast or make any kind of lunch, plus I thought eating breakfast or especially making lunch was just too keener, so I’d eat nothing until dinner. I was probably eating 500 calories a day, which qualifies as starvation.
And that habit was built in early childhood where no one cared or noticed if I’d eaten at all. I’d inadvertently being living on soda for days because my body craved high energy foods and I couldn’t distinguish between sincere malnutrition and feeling like a pop.
The first time it was ever questioned was the final time I was in school mandated therapy and, after a lot of sessions talking about depression and authority and all that, my therapist just asked what have you eaten today?, it was like 5pm and I said nothing. When she finally understood that I meant literally-nothing not just nothing-special she was aghast and started thinking I was anorexic.
And she, when I was 17, was the first person to ever to imply there was some connection between how I felt and what I ate or to ask me to eat breakfast.
Which I did for the sole reason that I didn’t want her to think I was anorexic because that wasn’t my brand – I was rail thin and depressed and looking forward to being a heroin addict, sure, but anorexia was somehow extremely lame to me. Thank god, I guess?
Curiously I did wind up being an accidental anorexic again later when I went no carb. My normal eating pattern was fine, I was eating 3 meals and snacks and drinking beer so I was caloricly supporting my lifestyle no problem. Cut out sugar though… I went from eating huge burgers with buns and cheese and fries and soda to eating a burger patty in a bowl with a diced tomato, for example. From 800 calorie meals down to, like, 80.
After a few weeks of eating like that I did the math just out of down-time curiosity. I was living on 400 calories a day.
So that was the start of me eating tons. Try eating 3000 calories a day – just a ball park number for an ‘active’ person – and getting one gram of protein per pound of body weight and not eating carbs. It’s a mountain of food.
Which was kinda fun and then on the weekends we’d eat some big treat we’d looked forward to all week and that was awesome too. We, Liv and I, found our favourite restaurant by Googling best lasagna in Calgary and ending up at La Brezza. Fingers crossed they survive this era.
Being no carb and having designated cheat days turned into cheating just a little when I was tired or bored or someone offered me something.
Funny how I can be such a zealot and such an excuser – one day I was fasting, not a single calorie from going to bed thursday until waking up saturday and I went to a show where the band bought pizza for the whole crowd.I just laughed, not tempted in the slightest thinking when you do something bold the most amazing and surprising things will be thrown at you; yet months later it’s just I didn’t sleep well, better eat these doughnuts ’cause they’re here.
And all that brings me to now. I had a good thing going when I was working full time where I obviously had to eat breakfast before work and I obviously had to bring a lunch and I obviously planned a good dinner when I got home. But then not working full time – yet still working just a little – I could, on my days off, forget to eat or think I was doing myself a favour by fasting a bit until midday when I’d confuse a craving for mere calories with a desire to have a drink, and/or I’d wait to eat all day and then feel like only pizza would make me happy.
A complete myth. A wise man once said “How hungry you feel should dictate how soon you eat, not how much you eat.”
Nevertheless that’s my thoughts on my life long relationship with food, like all thing in life I feel a bit cheated that seemingly no one tried, or at least nothing did, get through to me about food and health. When you’re young and can just roll through anything on bravado you never make the connection between how you feel and what you’ve eaten – I still don’t honestly. I know it objectively like a cheat code. I was empty-stomached at work the other day when a shockingly rude customer came through and while I was deliberately calm during the interaction I saw myself spiraling up and up afterward. Alone in the store, telling myself the story of why I’m mad over and over again, just getting into a frenzy I was like Alastair, break the fast, have a snack and I bet you’ll notice you’re not as angry about this. Sure enough, by the time I got home and talked about how my day was I couldn’t find a tenth of the anger I had, it was merely a funny story like any other.
It’s a thing I know I need to check myself on daily – have I eaten my good foods? Eggs, sardines, my vitamins; or have I fucked up and tried to make myself feel good by eating bad? Which, you’ll notice, never works anyway.