How I Became An Emotional Eater - Using Food As A Crutch

The mind of a high-school senior runs wild with fleeting ideas about how life will be outside of the familiar halls they’ve spent the past four years in. Thoughts to the future where their 21-year-old adult lives would be in perfect alignment to their dreams with great careers and maybe married with kids. Then there are the seniors who spend the year planning for prom and graduation. Dreaming about every perfect detail from limo rentals to after party venues and full on weekend bashes.

I was both and although this may sound like a completely normal part of life, mine looked a little different.

At 17, I already obsessed over my weight. I was never the petite girl, who was cutely packaged and fit in everywhere. In middle school, I was the tall brown fat Latina from New York with the weird name teachers would destroy. Kids can be mean, and they don’t ever need a reason. So, I got teased for being the fat girl, with the weird name and weird accent. (Hence, why the nickname Macie.)

By the time I got to high-school, I had blossomed if you will. Things were looking up ---literally--- I was no longer the tall brown fat Latina from New York.  Yet I still struggled with my weight all throughout high-school.

Senior year bought on what felt like the final showdown. I joined Weight Watchers (for the second time, I had already tried the program in my junior year) but this time I was going to stick it through. I had a beautiful coral mermaid dress with a sheer bust and a silk bottom with a delicate tail.

The dress fit a bit snug, even with my faja I didn’t feel like prom magic. I was determined to look perfect.

Suddenly, my usual salad lunches were accompanied by small Ziploc bags of snacks properly labeled with their points value. On many occasions, lunch was replaced by a pear and a royal chocolate Slim Fast shake.

I worked hard to get the results I wanted for that special night.  After school, I pounded the pavement for 30 minutes in the blazing Florida heat. Once I arrived home I’d quickly change clothes and head to the gym in my apartment complex for another hour of cardio.

I didn’t eat after 7 pm and I tracked my water intake. I depended on Smart One meals, Slim Fast shakes, and lots of pretzels. I tracked my Weight Watcher points and attended meetings all while planning for prom with my friends.

One day at lunch the girls were talking dresses. We excitedly talked about our dress styles and colors, some of us had already found our “perfect” dress.  One friend insisted we should make sure we weren’t wearing the same color as to not clash in photos. As we went around the lunch table and revealed the color of our dresses, the girls who had not yet found one made sure the immortal sin was not committed.

- “Pink.”

- “Green.”

- “Blue.”

- “Coral.”

Wait did she just say “coral?” This couldn’t be, my dress is coral. This is a code red! My mind was in a frenzy.

Macielle-Betances-Prom-PreBariatric Macielle-Jerry-Prom

That one exchange catapulted me on a comfort food bender. By the end of the day, I had forgotten the point system and disregarded any shake or prepackaged meal and went right for the good stuff: pizza and cake. I spent the entire week eating things that I would later regret.

This ugly behavior continued to show itself anytime I got upset or overwhelmed. Food became my crutch, it became my therapist, my release. I ran to its comforting arms whenever something went wrong. Food granted me security in a way I till this day can’t quite describe.

I fell into this cycle of eating terribly for a few weeks followed by a few weeks of diet and exercise. I would feel motivated and inspired to change. The inspiration was short lived spanning about a month, maybe two. Then life would get hard, I’d feel helpless and I would eat and eat and eat.

How do you fight an addiction to a substance that is essential for life?

The answer to this question would not find its way to me, not at this time because I wasn’t even asking it.  

I'm Macielle, (Mah-see-el) most people call me Macie. I'll be taking you through my journey to a healthier me and the problems I faced during that time. My story will be continued here for the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Keep up with Macielle and her WLS on Instagram.

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