Running from Food

Learning to have a healthy relationship with food through the joy of running.

What’s in a Name? Behind “Running from Food”

I’m a food addict.

There, I said it. It’s out there. We’re all on the same page.

I don’t mean that flippantly. Because it’s not flippant to me. I really am addicted to food. Not just in a “I crave a slice of pizza all the time” or “I order the jumbo popcorn at the movie theater every single time I go” way.

I remember once I was watching what is still my all time favorite TV series, West Wing.

Leo McGarry from West Wing

If you’re familiar with the show, you know that one of them main characters, Leo McGarry, the President’s Chief of Staff, is an alcoholic. Someone asks him during a very dramatic scene why he’s an alcoholic. She asks him how he could risk his reputation, his job, his family, his whole life, just for one drink.

His response floored me.

My brain does indeed work differently. That famous saying about not being able to eat just one chip? They got that from me.

I don’t understand how someone can limit themselves to just one chip. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to eat and eat and have that wonderful, mesmerizing flavor racing through your mouth until there’s literally nothing left to eat.

McGarry says later, “I like the little things. The way a glass feels in your hand, a good glass – thick, with a heavy base. I love the sound an ice cube makes when you drop it from just the right height. Too high, and it will chip when you drop it. Chip the ice and it will melt too fast in the Scotch.”

The little things. I love the din of a crowded restaurant, the way a polite person waits on your every need as you pick and choose from a menu of food options, all right there at your fingertips. I love the mixture of socializing and eating, of watching a funny or scary or dramatic movie and eating, of being with people you just enjoy being around and laughing over your favorite delicious meal. I love how the holidays and delicious, delectable food are always intertwined, the memories of running in the door on Thanksgiving morning after playing flag football and being hit with a wall of delicious aromas.

I’m addicted to food.

I Googled “food addiction” a while back. Here’s a sample of what I found:

I Googled “food addiction” the other day and, frankly, I was embarrassed by what I read, because it described me to a T:

  • Being obsessed and/or preoccupied with food.
  • Having a lack of self-control when it comes to food.
  • Having a compulsion about food in which eating results in a cycle of bing eating despite negative consequences.
  • Remembering a sense of pleasure and/or comfort with food and being unable to stop using food to create a sense of pleasure and comfort.
  • Having a need to eat which results in a physical craving.

All of those describe me at one point or another in my life.

Except when I finally got control. One period in my life where I actually managed to get control over my addiction.

It was when I discovered running, and how it made me feel empowered. How it made me feel in control over my body, like I was the one in charge, not my appetite anymore. I was in control of my body, my mind and my spirit for the first time in my life. It was only then that I was able to fully, really, truly recognize my addiction and that it was a problem I had to be conscious about and fight against every day. Running helped open my eyes, helped me see more clearly, and ultimately helped me get to the point where I actually viewed food not as entertainment, or a warm blanket, or a comfort, but as FUEL.

That…now that was empowering.

And then I let it slip away.

It’s time for me to start running from food again. I have to, or it will take me over. It’s time to start putting food back in its proper perspective, or it will continue to rule my life. It’s time to remember that overwhelming, heart-pumping, mind-numbing sense of absolute joy and pride I felt when I crossed over the finish line of my first half marathon.

That’s why I’m here. And that’s where I’m going.

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