When an alcoholic describes their inexorable lust I realise it’s precisely how I would describe my relationship with Food. Unlike drinking or smoking however, I still have to eat Food everyday. And not as a guilty compulsion, but as a necessity. This means that the temptation to gorge myself stupid, to destroy my waistline and push myself far beyond the final notch of my belt is an ever-present danger with every godforsaken meal.
Food has me obsessing over calories and fat and sugar and salt and daily allowances and not drinking fruit juice and going to the gym and pinching my waist and watching weak muscles grow strong. Timidly, but with a smile, I fight the dangerous old habits and, at the end of the day, I look at my body in the mirror and I think to myself you can do better than this.
When I return from the gym it’s as if I’m peeling an extraneous layer of fat from my body. And even though I’ve programmed myself to nervously flinch away from the snack aisle now, that compulsion is still lurking there in the background. No matter how many miles I run or how many calories I burn, the sensation of wanting to devour a gelatinous mountain of cake is always there.
Maybe, I think to myself in these desperately bleak and boring moments, these gastronomically immoral acts might forever lurk and fester deep down in the belly of who I am.
The same can be said for Sleep. I refer to Sleep and Food in my mind as if they were the forgotten pair alongside Phlegm, Black Bile, Yellow Bile and Blood. They are constantly unbalanced— Sleep deprivation cuts into work and relationships and basic tasks that require more than 5% of brain activity. Food and Sleep are somehow connected; at 3am I will suddenly discover that the most important thing in the universe is the procurement of Food—sticky, soft and sweet. To defend myself against these thoughts I eat raisins, bags and bags of raisins, and somehow this soothes this penchant for midnight self destruction.
Why can’t I sleep? Perhaps because there’s a feeling of things out there left undone, there’s a sense of loss, of treasures abandoned, of Internets unseen.
Months pass and I’ve forgotten the taste of chocolates, crisps and savoury snacks. I learn how to cook. Slowly and with much bumbling, I learn how to cook. But each time I learn how to not make the same fuck-up.
And in the shadow of so many fuck-ups all I can do is hope that tomorrow will be a day of fewer fuck-ups. Perhaps one day I’ll forget the taste of a true and proper fuck-up, but until then I look into the mirror and I say to myself you can do better than this.