Coco Puffs, the gateway drug

My eating habits/ideas/idiosyncrasies started early.

I can remember a time, don’t remember how old I was, that my mom and dad would wait until all of us kids had gone to bed and then make an Alba 77 shake. Given that our blender made enough noise to wake the dead, Irene and I often figured it out and went downstairs, hoping for a treat.

I was thinking about this last night and wondered about the secrecy of it. At least that’s how I saw it. I’m sure that after a long day of taking care of kids or working, all my parents wanted to do was to relax and enjoy some adult time. My little mind just interpreted it differently. I thought Alba 77 was something special that they had, excluding me.

The period of time after my parent’s divorce also had a dramatic impact on the formation of my thoughts about lots of things, including food. We didn’t have much and lived on food stamps, WIC coupons and welfare at different periods. Living with the trauma of the divorce was very difficult for me and food was one way that I dealt with it.

But there was always the fear that there wouldn’t be enough. I refused to go to the grocery store because I was so embarrassed about us needing assistance. I hid in my shame. My sister embraced it and at 10 could comparison shop for the best deals, different reactions to a similar fear.

I grew up thinking that there was never going to be enough food.

I started to sneak cereal into my room to eat as I read books. Books that were my ticket to different worlds, ones other than the painful one in which I was living. I can remember my mother being furious when we ran out of milk for breakfast and the overwhelming guilt I felt for what I was doing.

This is still my pattern to some extent today. When I am overwhelmed today, I withdraw, isolate and hide from the world. And I eat and eat and eat.

When I got a job at 16, it changed a bit but overall got worse. Having money provided me a way to rebel and have whatever I wanted. Of course, my first job was at a restaurant!

After eating the cereals that WIC allowed you to have, like Cheerios, Kik and Total, I could finally buy the hard stuff….Coco Puffs. But that little victory felt hollow. I could have what I wanted but none of that cured what I was feeling, however much I tried. Like a gateway drug, it led me to harder and harder substances.

I’m exploring this as an opportunity to look at what formed my most basic ideas and thoughts about food.

Somehow, in my life food became something other than energy and nutrition. It soothed and numbed and calmed.

I’m on  journey to try and have a sane, rational relationship with food, so I’m looking at where it all started.

As it changes, I hope I can overcome some of my history.

Forge a new partnership.

With no guarantee, all I can do is try….today.

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