A Look into the Mind of the Food Obsessed

Last night as I finished up dinner (Chipotle Burrito Bowl thanks to Andy!), I started to think about how my life has changed over the last few years.  I thought about how my views on myself have especially changed.

When I was in high school I had virtually no care in the world.  I was fearless and definitely had a zest for life.  Also at this time, I didn’t have negative thoughts about myself or my body.

I honestly can’t remember ever being worried about what I was going to eat next and how it would make me feel.Will I feel fat and bloated? Will I feel gross? Will I vow to not eat this much again? Those thoughts were non-existent in my teenage mind.  That is until this point in my life when tragedy struck and I began using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with life rather than actually working through things.

From about 18 years of age until my early 20’s, I was pretty food obsessed.  Sure, I still enjoyed myself and I have a lot of great memories from this period in my life, but I struggled mentally with self acceptance.

Freshman  year of college, 2004

I started an online journal on a fitness forum around this time and was excited to interact with others that shared the same passion for nutrition and fitness. The forum is now deleted…and I am thankful it is! I don’t think I could go back and re-read my posts.

But to be honest, this was a very unhealthy time for me. The interaction with most people was based on strict dieting and obsessive exercise habits.  Most everyone was after the “perfect body” and being at the “perfect weight” and so almost everyone’s journal was about being on a diet.


I admit that I got sucked into this life (or perhaps the life was sucked out of me?) and I read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to dieting and fitness.

I even toyed with the idea of competing in a Figure Competition and ended up training and dieting for 6 weeks (read more about it here).  I ended up quitting(not ashamed that I am a quitter! Best decision I could have made).

I  went through a period of being depressed and down on myself, since I was suffering a terrible rebound. This filled me with anxiety and more negative thoughts about myself.

Food Obsessed

During this time in my life, I think that food ruled my world.  As much as I enjoyed it, I feared it.  I thought about it constantly.  What will I eat next? Am I getting enough protein in this meal? Should I be eating carbs this late in the day?

On the outside I looked completely normal (at least I think!) and didn’t really discuss food and dieting with anyone around me (only online).  But there was certainly a mental battle happening inside.

A Look into the Mind of the Food Obsessed

I’ve tried to dive deep into my memory to show what it was like for a period in my life.  Here is what I have come up with. So let’s take a walk down memory lane into the mind of the food obsessed:

Alarm goes off, I wake up and go to the bathroom.  I pee first because I need to weigh myself.  Surely my pee weighs a few pounds and I want to get an accurate reading.  I see the number on the scale and hate it.  I should not weigh this much.  Why don’t I weigh 135lbs or less? I am 5’7 and I should weigh 135lbs, not 140lbs.

As soon as I wake up, I instantly think: When am I working out today? What will I eat for breakfast? It needs to have the perfect combination of fat, carbohydrate and protein.  And I need to make sure I am getting at at least a gram of protein for every pound that I weigh.

My workout will either be lifting heavy (no more than 6 reps because higher reps are useless) or I will be doing a 25 minute HIIT session on the treadmill.  Steady state cardio is for the birds.

I pack my lunch and snacks before heading off to work as a Graduate Assistant Heaven for bid I am without a snack or without a plan. I’d be lost without my protein shake. I need that protein!!

I am starving by dinner time.  But how could that be? I am eating enough (5-6 small meals a day..it’s the only way to eat) and a 300-400 calorie meal should be more than filling.  I had a tablespoon of peanut butter for God’s sake! That good fat should be filling me up. But I begin to daydream about pizza, cereal, and ice cream.

I eat the ice cream. Then the cereal. Then I lose it and eat whatever I can find. Toast with peanut butter? Sure, why not! I’ve already ruined my day. Oatmeal? OK! I am a loser and can not control myself therefore I will stuff myself senseless and go to bed upset.

I repeat this sequence of events for years…

During this time in my life, I still felt like I was a happy person. But my idea of happiness was all wrong. I believed I was supposed to feel this way about myself.  I believed that happiness came when I reached a certain weight and could maintain it.  I believed that if and when I competed in a figure competition everyone would praise me and announce that, yes, she has the perfect body! Hip hip hooray! I believed that happiness was based upon looks and appearances.

This was my food obsessed mind at a glance.  Luckily, things have changed.

22 responses to “A Look into the Mind of the Food Obsessed

  1. I am so glad that you are in a good place…food is the one thing you can’t ignore because you need it every day multiple times a day. Good for you!

  2. I’m glad you’ve found a good place. I think the aboved too well describes the thought process of a lot of girls and women just like us. Been there, too.

    I still sort of obsess about food. But in a different way. More of a “omg, I can’t wait to try this recipe/restaurant next.” It may still not be normal, but it’s much more fun…

  3. sounds a lot like an ED to me… that’s pretty much what mine does to me everyday. Im in recovery now though 🙂

  4. I am so glad you did NOT do the competition!!! My story is EXACTLY, EXACTLY like yours, except I did the bb competition which created the most horrible world for me after I finished it. It propelled me into a full blown ED. It took me a couple of years and lots of therapy to come back to a somewhat normal place. Even today, I glance at the mirror to see how flat my tummy looks. I got rid of the scales about 6 months ago, but there are still issues I need to work over. Anyway, great job getting through it!!! THANK YOU for posting this story. It brings hope to so many out there, I just know it.

  5. Thank you for sharing this – I’m always so interested by how people have managed to overcome some of the negative food and body-related habits in their lives. I really respect how healthy and balanced you are now, and I can only imagine how much happier you must be. Kudos on finding your happy place!

  6. Great post! I think so many people go through this but never get “help” because it doesn’t technically qualify as an ED. I know I have struggled in the past, and I’m not a changed person yet. I can say I’m getting better though, and it feels good!

  7. Awesome post! I can relate to it in so many ways and I appreciate you putting your thoughts out there. I was like you were in high school–didn’t even THINK about when I would eat next or what it would be–up until I was about 23 or 24. Then the spiral of food obsessed hit me. I still think about food more than most people (hi, I am a food blogger) but I think I have a more healthy relationship now, and don’t stress if I can’t eat something that I “should”. Marriage has made me much more relaxed (and a little chubbier 😉

    I always love your posts like this. Thank you!

  8. I’m so glad things have changed, that certainly could not have been a fun way to live – I can’t even imagine. You’re so incredibly strong to have broken that cycle!

  9. Did you just start eating more? I am feeling somewhat similar. I eat a lot of meals during the day, but end up SO hungry at night. I feel so dumb though when I am constantly getting up to make more snacks while my roommates eat dinner then are done for the night. It’s a little embarrassing how much more I am eating. I’m also honoring my cravings, i.e. I ate probably like 5 cookies worth of cookie dough last night because i wanted it. I did not make any salad because I was not craving salad. However, I just get really self-conscious that I am eating WAY more than my roommates. Any advice?

    • I did start eating more, especially during the day and depending on my workout schedule. I was exercising too much and not eating enough, therefore I would eat a ton at night. I definitely eat more during the day now.

      Also, my weight stayed the same….I just stopped the mental battle and decided to accept my body the way it is.

      Are you at a healthy weight and able to maintain it without driving yourself crazy? If so, I say keep on doing what your doing in terms of listening to your cravings and not depriving yourself.

  10. What an awesome post. Seriously, I loved reading it..and I can relate on SO many levels. (like the whole ‘pee must weight a few pounds’…oh yes, that was totally me too) I also love that you say quitting the whole competition was the best decision ever…I agree though. I think I would get even MORE mind warped if I tried to do something like that. Quitting was definitely a WINNING decision 🙂
    Sounds like your life has changed in ALL of the right ways, I am SO happy for you!!

  11. This was totally the story of my life when I was in college, and many years afterwards. Such a nasty cycle, but I’m glad to see you’ve gotten out of it and really pay attention to your body and what it needs throughout the day!

  12. I think there is a big difference between being “food-obsessed” and competing in a figure competition. I used to have disordered patterns of eating, and used to think about food all the time. I always had to make sure I was burning at least 1000 calories more than I was eating or I would punish myself by skipping meals.
    Five years later, I’m now preparing for my first competition and my view of eating is much healthier. Even though I have to weigh my food, I don’t feel like I’m not in control.

  13. Wow that really brought me back to those forum days…I remember being completely obsessed with the macros and the protein especially. I think we were all in denial about what the purpose of those journals really was..glad it’s gone too and that many of us are in a better place now!

  14. an accurate look at food/weight/body image obsession. I have to tell you that your blog helps me. Whenever I find myself freaking out or falling back into harmful thought patterns I will often think about or reread your post about ending your food obsession. SO…thank you so much for sharing.

  15. I’m glad you were able to break out of your habits. Food and even exercise obsession can def. ruin you days and life. I used to be religious about writing down everything I ate and making every single on e of my workouts. Thankfully I realized I was going to far and readjusted my outlook years ago. I can totally relate to this post!

  16. I am in my early 20’s now, and am trying to break my obsession with food and weight. So glad that you were able to break it. It gives me inspiration!

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  18. I had the same habit of eating so lightly throughout the day that I lost my mind at night. It’s really hard to find balance but you’ve done it and done it well!

  19. I use to be this way too. Now I am trying to not limit any foods, because when I did adn they were around I. ATE. EVERYTHING! I also use to weigh myself several times a day (really?) yep. I did. buttttt I havent weighed myself in two weeks. Im just trying to go on how my clothes fit. Its a work in progress haha

  20. great post! its good to know the history of others and how they got to this point in their life regarding food and exercise. i am continually trying to find more balance but as always it continues to be a struggle..

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