school of diet.

Friends and well-wishers, of which are probably three, and certainly two of them are my mother, I had an epiphanous day.

I teach at a high school. You can imagine what I find there: high schoolers. Young, fresh-faced, eager, awkward high schoolers, not unlike the high schooler I had been (young, eager, awkward, be-spectacled and braced). Being around them reminds me, inevitably, of myself.

Mainly, inevitably, I’m reminded of the way I used to eat back in high school. Classes started so early that I rarely had time to eat breakfast before I left for school; sometimes I would walk to school eating a piece of toast, but more often I simply went hungry, or on a bellyful of coffee. Yes, at fourteen, a bellyful of coffee. And then I’d put in a full morning of classes with nothing to eat. Finally, when lunch rolled around at noon, I’d still be unable to eat because I rarely brought packed lunches. My memory is that I didn’t like them that much, but I’m sure it’s a bit more complicated than that. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my parents, both from different countries, didn’t know how to pack American-style lunches and I was often ashamed of the food I’d bring and its inability to conform to Wonder Bread and Hi-C standards. Or perhaps I had a squeamish thing about eating apples that had been oxidizing in my backpack for half a day. I do remember that I’d often “forget” a brown-bagged lunch that my mother or father had made and that at a certain point they simply stopped packing me anything, assuming that I was packing something for myself. Which I was not. So often even at lunch time, I’d either go hungry, eat whatever my friends couldn’t finish, or if I had some change, I’d buy some junkie snack off the snack cart. More often than not, though, I would not eat a single bite of real food until well past 3 PM every day. And what would I eat once I got home, ravenous and unchecked and unsupervised? Oh, God, everything. Everything I could find. And I’d keep on eating until my father came home and made one of his rich, French-y dinners.

I don’t want to devote this blog to any kind of eating or dieting or caloric minutiae, but I can’t imagine it’s good by any stretch of the imagination for a teenage girl to spend the first two-thirds of her day without eating only to inhale half the refrigerator in a matter of hours. And under a certain amount of emotional stress, but that’s for a different episode of Oprah. The point is, I learned early on to be a disordered eater, to ignore natural calls for hunger, and to organize my eating to accompany social and emotional stresses.

And what’s been going on lately? Teaching high school, moving across country, adjusting back to life in Los Angeles (a dangerous place for any non-normative body). Stress, right? And guess what’s happening yet again. Yup: skipping breakfast, forgetting to pack snacks, and wolfing down a 2 PM lunch of heavy food. And the coffee. Oh, the coffee. Oh, the nine cups of coffee I drank yesterday.

So the epiphany? It’s still epiphanizing, really, but I think the center of what I’ve been realizing is that eating patterns are deeply ingrained. Duh. Of course. HAES folks have been saying it forever, right? But, no, really, those patterns are in you and they have a purpose. Right now, I’m not sure what that purpose is. I can’t say that teaching high school has necessarily “triggered” past behaviors, since I have more or less been following a binge-purge pattern for half my life now. It’s more like I can see the genesis of some of those behaviors, manias, and obsessions — the then me — paralleled with the supposedly adult and ostensibly self-aware me of today. Who is still manic, obsessive, and who still waits way too long in the morning before she eats.

What to make of this, I don’t know.



1 Response to “school of diet.”

  1. October 3, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the comment on my blog and for adding me to your blogroll. 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of what you have to say.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

October 2008
« Sep    

%d bloggers like this: