Dieting + Relationships: Intimacy, going out and how to feel normal around food

I didn't know I could gain 40lbs that fast. I mean, granted I was coming out of a 2 year diet, but still, it was a lot to gain in such a short time. I remember looking in the mirror and feeling so uncomfortable in my body, but I thought I was 'living life' so I didn't really want it to stop either because all I knew about pretty much everything was to be 'all in, or all out'. I didn't want him to think I had "food issues" so I stayed all in with eating out, alllll of the time. 

I was so excited when I started dating my ex-boyfriend. He knew all of the best places to eat in our town, and we had so much fun exploring new foods. Eh, I knew in essence it was exciting, but in my mind I was on a war path of mental and physical destruction with my body. He was having fun, and I was a mess. 

I met him right after I decided to quit dieting forever. But, just because I gave up the diets, doesn't mean I gave up binging. That would take a while.

I wanted to be normal around food, just like everyone I saw around us was. I wanted to casually go out to dinner with his friends, and go to his family Thanksgiving without being terrified of food. But that wasn't my reality. 

That's the thing about food, you can't avoid it. 

So I did that thing that happens when you start dating someone, or at least for some people, I was eating his portion sizes. This guy could eat a pie + pizza and wings and still have abs, I can't do that physically, and mentally, it messed with me.

I went from all in dieting, to all in dating and that's not how a healthy relationship with food and your body is designed. 

Because I had such a distorted view of my body, and was increasingly getting more uncomfortable as I gained weight, it made sex terrifying. 

At the time, I thought I was madly in love with this man, and the idea of him seeing me naked made me actually want to throw up. I would change in the bathroom, and and wear a shirt when we had sex. 

I knew these weren't normal behaviors, but I didn't know how to stop and feel better.

I remember once telling him that I had some 'food issues' and he said 'can't you just stop eating?'. Yo dude, I totalllllllly wish I could have. But no, binge eating didn't work like that. And coming out of strict diet mindset, anything other than that felt foreign and wrong. 

So sex continued to feel like an act of "how can I move in such a way that this shirt won't ride up and my stomach rolls won't touch his abs?". Truth. 

Going into this relationship without first working on my relationship with food and my body felt like trying to crash course learn Italian in two days so you can go to Italy and have an amazing time. But I couldn't speed through the work that needed to be done, and it effected my relationship, and my mind more than it needed to. 

How You Can Navigate Your Relationship With Ease

I don't want your relationship to feel stressful by the seemingly simple act of being around food, I want you to feel empowered around it + your body. Here are 5 ways you can do that.

  • Don't keep your relationship with food a secret. Coming in hot right off the bat with this one. It's hard to open up, especially to someone new, your relationship with food. But. if eating out constantly is giving you major anxiety, I would have a conversation with your person and tell them what's up for you. When my clients are struggling with this because it feels vulnerable and open, I ask them to tip toe their feet into the conversation if they can't straight up talk about how they feel. It may look like this:
    • "I've been dieting for so long, and I'm finally trying to feel normal around food, so when we go out all of the time, I find it a bit more challenging to really honor what it is I want vs. what diet mindset is telling me, so do you mind I cook as a meal at home once this week?"
    • If he isn't familiar with words like diet mindset, or 'honor my body', that's okay. You can either explain what that means to you, or reiterate that you're focusing right now breaking up with something and he better shut his mouth before it's him. Kidding. So kidding. LOL. In all seriousness, if he's confused, ask him act questions he has, and answer what you feel comfortable with. Know that just because you bring up the conversation once doesn't mean you can't bring it up again.
  • You don't have to go with the flow. When you're asked "where do you want to eat", stop saying "I don't care". You don't have to be the chill girl. You like things right? Speak up! This is your chance to have a choice in what you eat! You don't have to answer with the 'healthiest' of places, but maybe if you hate always eating wings and fries, you can choose somewhere that you do like and feel comfortable at. 
  • Talk about food. In tying up with the first tip, talk about food. Shame thrives in secrecy, so when your relationship stays secret, it can stay there and continue t plague your mind + the way you feel in your relationship. If you had a 'win', share that with your person too. The more normal the conversation can get, the more normal you begin to feel around food. 
  • Ask for the support you need. He may think when he says 'you're not fat, you're so beautiful" that he's helping you, and clearly he's in love with your body. But if those comments are feeling uncomfortable to you, don't brush him off with "no I'm not", ask for the kind of support and love you need. I can't tell you what this looks like because I'm not you, but this isn't just his relationship. You can ask for what you need when it comes to how you're being loved. 
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Work on YOU. I want you to have conversations with your person and be open + honest, but beyond that hard work, you need to learn how to feel at home in your body without pressure. Maybe this will look like hiring a coach that can help you do this, or reading books, talking to friends or family, going to therapy etc, but there has to be something done so your relationship with food and your body heals and eventually begins to thrive. 

 

Have more questions about dating + navigating a healthy relationship with food + your body? Shoot me an email at: strongchicksrock.rachel@gmail.com. Want to join our tribe of women who are all actively learning + working towards having a healthy relationship with food and their bodies, check out The Strong Chicks Rock Academy here. 

 

xo

Rachel