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I Feel Your Food FOMO

“Gabriella, Mangia!” my Nonna shouted from the other end of the table.

I looked down at the bitter broccoli rob just sitting on my plate, haunting me. I was full. Full from the bread, cheese, and prosciutto I ate when we first got to Nonna’s. Full from the bowl cavatelli that, realistically, should’ve been our main course, not the first. Lastly, full from finishing what I wanted from Sunday dinner. Everything but the broccoli rob.

“You’re not going to finish those?” my Nonno asked, pointing a threatening fork. So, in an attempt to not insult anyone, I quickly scarfed down the broccoli rob.

And so began my long, complicated relationship with food.

Growing up, the culture of my big Italian family life revolved around food, and not much has changed. Every holiday, celebration, random visit, and Sunday get together is all revolving around food.

So, I learned at a young age to make a lot of my plans around when I am going to eat. It was also ingrained in me to finish everything on my plate.

It was not until I was in college that I realized people do not have to finish everything they get at a restaurant. You stop eating when you are full.

It sounds too simple; yet, that was not how I grew up!

It really left me in a cycle of feeling as though I had to eat everything; but, also hating myself because I felt so sick most of the time. And this cycle just continued to grow into ugly habits.

If nutritionists have some kind of chart with all the symptoms of overeating, I am pretty sure I’d hit each one. Use food as a reward? Check! Stress eat? Check! Use food for comfort? Check! The list goes on.

There is only one thing keeping me from a permanently well-balanced diet, and it is one of my major issues: food FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out. It might sound silly, but it does have a big hold over me, as I am sure it does for a lot of people with a bad relationship with food.

If you don’t understand what I mean by food FOMO let me break it down:

I can be anywhere, anywhere, and it’ll come on. If I am at a restaurant grabbing a quick bite with a friend, I want to try everything, not only on my plate but what is on my friend’s plate as well. Just to know. Just to taste.

On my worst days, even a picture or video online can send me in a spiral, I will be craving it and thinking about it for days until I fulfill that need.

Lastly, even if a friend opens a bag of chips I will most likely ask to have one. Why? Because I feel like if I don’t have this food, I am missing out on an experience.

Like anyone, I have better days than others. With that said, I am not talking about the actual food. I do not want to label foods as “bad” or “good.” That is actually a huge part of the problem. So, some days are better because I mentally accept what I am eating. However, on my worst days, I live through a vicious mental cycle of me labeling my food choices as “bad” and hating on myself. It can even go as far as trying to purge, limit a certain food group, or over-exercise to fit it.

Moreover, I can’t completely cut anything out of my diet. I can lessen an intake of sugar or carbs, but I cannot actually cut them out. I am not that girl. If I am going to modify my diet in any way, it takes so much focus and determination that it quickly starts to feel like a second job that isn’t with the lousy pay. Moderation, as well as intuitive eating, is a healthier lifestyle than the highs and lows of food reward and withdrawal.

Now, at least, I don’t feel as bad about my FOMO or even when I really indulge. I am not constantly beating myself up when I eat something I really love. I know how to get myself back on track. I simply will not adhere to strict rules around deprivation when it comes to food. I am going to eat what I want when I want.

There is no magic way of figuring out the right foods for your body. Everyone’s system is different. The reality is learning what works for you and not worrying about what anyone else says or thinks.

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