On food: How I changed my relationship with food

2/25/2018 09:43:00 PM

This is my little really long story of how I went from eating 3 sleeves of King Sized peanut butter cups in one sitting to... not.

Someone recently asked me:

"How did you or do you think you got to a place of balance? You eat healthy 80-90% of the time, but it wasn’t always like that for you... how do you feel you got to a place where those are the choices you are making?:

Truth? Part of me cannot believe someone just asked me that. I still eat a spoonful of strawberry jelly about once a week BECAUSE eating a spoonful of jelly is a BETTER decision THAN eating A POP TART.

Still, I will do my best to answer.

Friendly disclaimer: I love food. I think about food a lot. If it were legal, I would marry food. (Kidding.) This process hasn't happened over night. It has happened slowly over the course of the past five years. Hear me on that, friends. F-i-v-e years.

My Mom died in September of 2013 and from that point on, I've been on a new path. In addition, I am not a nutritionist, registered dietitian or therapist. I am fortunate that I've never struggled through having a legitimate eating disorder, but I am extremely sensitive to those who do/have.

All that said: if you take away one thing from this post, please let it be this:

Change takes time.
Small changes and decisions add up over time.


You matter and are loved, just.as.you.are.

(That was 3 things. My blog. My rules.)

Let's begin now.


1. I never restrict myself.

I swear by this: I can eat *any food* I want to eat whenever I want.

I took the power back that food had over me several years ago and I eat what I want, when I want without feeling guilty or deprived.

What has changed is that my food preferences have transformed over time.

Not by restriction, but by freedom.


Example: For many years I was a pop drinker. (I'm from Ohio. We call "soda" by it's rightful, midwestern name: "pop".)

I was a multiple-can-of-pop-a-day kind of person. During college, I drank probably 3-4 cans a day.  I drank cherry coke or regular coke. (I gained about 15 lbs in the first 1st semester at college. Shocker, right?)

After college, I'd try to quit drinking pop for a while, but it would always "pop" back into my life. (Pun intended.)

When I moved to Mexico about 12 years ago, I fell in love with Mexican coke. (You've had it, right? REAL SUGAR CANE. Friends, U.S. coke has nothing on Mexican coca-cola.)

Anyway, I'd have two, full-sized cans a day.

I was in my mid-20's drinking two cans of pop a day.

It was a problem.

Of course I gained weight. And I felt like a slug. As it turns out oreos and a white bread + lettuce + mayo + havarti and romaine lettuce isn't all that nutritiously righteous. Still, this was my daily menu.

I would tell myself after I drank one can of Mexican sugary, syrupy water-- always in the late afternoon, at 3 pm-ish -- that I would stop drinking pop tomorrow. You see, it was my "gift" to myself. It was my "reward!" It was my little afternoon pick-me-up. I don't drink coffee, so my morning (yes) and my afternoon (yes) pops were my idea of self-care.

[shaking my head as I typed that. putting terrible things into my body was "self-care"]

So I never quit the coca-cola. It never happened.

Instead, this is what I told myself:

Kylee, you can drink as much pop as you want everyday. But FIRST, you have to drink this 1 bottle of water.

So, I drank the water, then I'd enjoy my one, full can of coke.

Then as time went on I started drinking TWO bottles of water... and I'd have a mini-coke.

Then I started drinking all water... and guess what, I didn't really want a coke anymore... it started to just taste... bad.

I haven't had a coke in probably 4.5 or 5 years.

But, here's the key: I didn't tell myself that I couldn't have the coke. I can drink one or ten cans of pop tomorrow if I want to. It's my choice. I have control over the coke, it does not have control over me.

What I've learned: For me, restriction as a tactic for weight loss, never works. Instead, having the freedom to eat or drink what I want after I successfully finish a task works every time.

Drink the water, get a coke.

Drink the water, feel good, don't even want a coke.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.

P.S. I do drink coke slushes at Target when I visit the States because it's a tradition and I'm an American. And I love them.


2. I stopped "starting over on Monday."

"I'll start over on Monday."

I'd say this toward the middle of nearly every week usually right after I made a less than stellar food-related decision.

I mean, if I wasn't eating well... I might as well give up and start at the beginning of the next week, right?

No. This is ridiculous reasoning.

Instead, here's what I did:

Let me set the scene:

Let's say that I just made a "mini" sundae with ice cream, peanut butter, whipped cream, chocolate chips and marshmallows and say it was in BIG bowl and I ate it all and now, I just might feel like I'm going to barf.

[just an example. I mean, that may or may not have repeatedly happened...]

The old me would say, "Who cares. Start over on Monday. You can eat whatever you want now, then on Monday: BOOM, YOU are going to KILL IT."

The current me says: "Start over right now. At this moment. You get to start over right now. No waiting until Monday, no self-sabotage. Start over again. Right now. Get up after you eat an entire bag of Hershey's kisses and move on.

So what if you just had 4 pieces of salted-butter, white-bread toast with cinnamon and sugar on it? Stop whining. You made that decision. You'll start over now."

No more procrastination.
No more putting off what must be done now.

Start over!

Beginning again is a good thing! A positive thing! It means that I am deciding to take care of me, again and again. Beginning again isn't a negative consequence of a bad decision.

We have to chose to eat better over and over and over again. Every single day. Even after major missteps.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


3. I became more mindful.

I don't inhale my food anymore. I don't stand in front of the fridge when I'm bored or sad expecting to find something to eat that will make me feel better.

You can see my mindfulness and my habits changing if you come over to my house any random evening after dinner.

I DO open the fridge.
And close it.
And open it.
And close it.
I mentally and mindfully make a decision about what I'm going to eat. Or not eat.

Another mindful example:

Scene: I'm driving to pick up the girls from school and I have 10 extra minutes in my pocket.

Me: I want to stop at the corner store and buy 2 packs of peanut butter cups. (Those are my fave.) And eat them in the school pickup line.

Me: But... that's not going to make you feel better.

Me: But they're good. And they will.

Me: Keep driving. When you get home, if you still need chocolate, eat some of the dark chocolate chips in the freezer and move on. If you want more dark chocolate chips, you can have 'em.

Just don't stop and eat the crap.

Mindfullness, a la Kylee.

**NOTE: I have stopped and eaten the peanut butter cups more than once. But the FREQUENCY has decreased hugely so that now, if I do eat them, I am not derailing my health goals.

Look closely. You'll see an orange peanut butter cup wrapper sliver somewhere in my car.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


4. I started paying attention to how my body felt after I ate.

When you over-indulge, it feels gross.

I got sick of feeling gross.

So, here's what you do:

Don't let yourself get to the point of starvation when you'll totally go ape and eat whatever you want and then feel like a flaming dumpster when you're done.

If eating X makes you feel like Y, then stop.

If eating X makes you feel bad about yourself, then stop.

If eating X briefly makes you happy, but then you feel badly about yourself, then stop.

(You will FAIL this little exercise a million times, but you will start winning over time.)

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


5. I started watching my portions.

Ya'll, Americans eat too much food and consume too much salt.

There, I said it.

I've lived out of the country long enough to come back to the States each and every time with cartoon eye-balls shooting out of my head when they bring my "child's entree" to the table in the restaurant.

I was eating too gigantic of portions. My 21 Day Fix containers changed.my.life. They helped me recognize proper portions so that I can easily "eye up" what is ok and what is a surplus of food. Whenever I start to feel that my pants are a littttttttle too tight, I bring out my containers and start using them for measuring. Again.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


6. I got real about eating my feelings.

When the girls were little, I'd reward myself with food all the time.

This isn't new in my life. Food as a reward has always been a thing.

When we'd do well at school as kids and make the reading club goal, they'd give us a Pizza Hut gift certificate. (Food = reward.)

When I'd do well on my report card, I'd get taken out to dinner or have ice cream. (Food = reward).

Sad? Eat doritos.
Happy? Eat cheese!
Getting together with friends? Cheese dip!
Depressed? Eat all the things.

Eating crap when you feel like crap just makes you feel more like crap.

Embarrassing tidbit: I remember at one time in my life being jealous of the people who "can't eat anything" when they're upset. They'd drop like 10 lbs in 5 days because they just "couldn't eat." I, on the other hand, feel sad and want to eat a 3 ft. long loaf of French Bread, warmed up of course, with salted butter and homemade strawberry jam.

When I pinpointed when I over-ate (when I was sad and when I was bored), I started drinking more water. If I still needed something after the water... I didn't deprive myself (see #1), but I eat LESS. And I choose better.

Over time, I've learned other ways to decrease my emotional eating:

I write.
I drink tea.
I sleep.
I organize a drawer.
I call my sister.
I watch Steel Magnolias. (I always turn it off as soon as Shelby falls or before and then fast forward to the post-funeral scene with the ladies.)

You get the point.

I replace emotional eating with something else. And this is something I do TODAY.

Exercise is an amazing outlet, as well, my friends. It's changed my world.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


7. I stopped making excuses.

"I can totally eat this, because I worked out earlier."

I functioned with this mantra for YEARS and wondered why I never saw any change in my body or on the scale.

Quick answer: I was eating poorly. You cannot see results on the scale if you're eating poorly, are stressed, or not getting enough sleep. I was treading water. Working out just enough that I wasn't gaining THAT much weight, but still not really getting any results and still eating poorly. And still feeling ick.

I used this one a lot:

"I can't possible eat well when I go out with friends because, no one else will be... I have EARNED that cheese dip and I am going to put a hurtin' on it."

Um, lame.

Peer pressure at 38? Stop it. EAT LIKE YOU LOVE YOU.

Eat a bite of cheese dip, with some jicima and move on.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


8. I stayed accountable.

Way before I was a coach, I was accountable to the husband.

My favorite Saturday activity, after a long week of work, when the girls were small and napping, was to put them down for nap time, sit on the couch with the TV tuned to the recorded Say Yes to the Dress episodes. I'd EAT the ENTIRE TIME they were sleeping.

Craig was gone.

I was alone.

deserved this.

I enjoyed many delights: half a cake. Two bologna + American cheese sandwiches. A coke or two. Chocolate. You name it.

Then, I'd feel TERRIBLE and confess to Craig when he got home that I ate 8 full-sized Reese's eggs. It was either that or I'd hide the wrappers in the garbage and hope that he didn't see them.

Just telling him what I ate... and feeling shameful about it was enough to make me not want to feel that way anymore.

Being accountable to him, even though he never asked me to do so and he loves me as I am, was necessary for me.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


9. I don't associate guilt with eating. Ever. (Anymore.)

I refuse to eat a piece of cake or a donut and feel guilty about it.

Life is filled with BEAUTIFUL flavors that are MEANT to be enjoyed... in moderation.

If I have a treat, it's not a surprise. I knew I was going to do it and I've already negotiated the terms in my brain.

"Yep, you can eat that donut, but that's where it ends. One donut. And a super-great salad for dinner."

Random confession: About 3 years ago, I asked Craig for donuts for Mother's Day. All I wanted was donuts. He bought me 7. I ate ALL 7 of them by 2 pm on Mother's Day and felt horrific physically and emotionally.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


10. I eat more vegetables.

CHANGE the ratio on your plate stat.

No, you don't need 4 pieces of pizza.

Change that up to 3 pieces and a little salad.

Then, eat 2 pieces and half a plate of salad.

You can eat what you want, but you need to eat natural, unprocessed goodness, too.

ADD more vegetables and eat less processed food at every meal. (This one isn't super easy for me. I am naturally inclined to carbohydrates. I still have to make myself choose a vegetable.)

Don't expect amazing change over night.

But remember, small changes and decisions add up over time.


10. Stop buying crap.


This is why I cannot keep nutella in my house for longer than 3 weeks. I will eat ALL OF IT.

If it's there, then I will eat it. So guess what? I don't buy it.

This is so obvious, friends.

If it's a temptation that doesn't serve you, don't buy it. And stop with the excuses that I "buy this for my husband or my kids." They're not going to die if you don't buy Lucky Charms.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


12. I've upgraded my treats.

I don't snack on gross, waxy chocolates. I eat a perfectly delightful dark chocolate, at least 60-80% cocoa that makes.me.so.happy.

Even Justin's Dark Chocolate peanut butter cups are the ideal replacement for my beloved others.

I don't waste my life on ick. I enjoy the good stuff.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


13. Sit down and eat.

When you stand in the kitchen, muching on your kids plates, munching as you're making dinner, snacking while you pack lunches... you.will.gain.weight.

When I start snacking too much, I re-enact the "no eating while standing" rule.

Sit down.
Don't read your phone.
Be mindful.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


14. I don't "diet".

I NEVER classify my lifestyle choice as a diet.

Diet = restriction

I am not restricted, I am positively caring for my body.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


15. I stopped weighing myself everyday.

EVERY morning I used to wake up, go to the bathroom and then get on the scale. If the number was in what I deemed the acceptable zone, I was ok. If it wasn't... if the scale was a little too high, there went my day.


I felt like a failure. Immediate bad mood. Yelling Mom. Yelling Wife. Yelling Kylee.

So, the scale went goodbye. I weigh myself maybeeeeeeee every 3 months, maximum. Instead, I'm a measurer. Measurements tell more than scales.

Not weighing myself everyday was terrifying. I felt like I was losing control. But after about a week... I was happier.

Like, truly and 100% happier.

Unencumbered by my own pressure.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


16. I found words that resonated.

"Successful people do what unsuccessful people don't feel like doing."

This runs through my head a lot.

Find something that gets you through and repeat it.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


Social drinking means you're going to gain weight.

I'm sorry, but it does.

First, I limited my glasses of wine to just the weekends. But for a time, I cut them out completely and I felt great.

What am I missing by not having a glass of wine? Um, nothing. Have sparkling water in a wine glass. Have a cup of tea.

Of course I enjoy a cocktail, but I do so without guilt and I don't over-do it.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.



Still, to this day, if I don't plan, I'll make less than stellar food choices.

I am a child of the 80's and I loved Little Debbie snacks, cream-of soups and casseroles, pop tarts and sugared cereals and JIF.

Slowly, I started replacing those foods with healthier options and everyday I plan what I am going to eat.

JIF = replaced with natural, no-sugar added peanut butter or almond butter
Canned veggies = replaced with frozen veggies or fresh
Pasta = replaced with zoodlees
Fruit on the bottom yoplait yogurt = Greek yogurt
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese = GONE. Don't eat it. Cancer.
Margarine = nope, butter or ghee
Iceberg lettuce = hello, spinach
Ketchup = replaced with mustard
Store-bought salad dressings = Homemade. It takes like 2 minutes to make a dressing, ya'll.

I must plan or be subject to the whim of my emotions. And the emotions will invariably mean not great decisions.

DARE: Eliminate something that you LOVE - I eliminated dairy and cheese and couldn't BELIEVE how much better I felt when I did it. I slowly let it back in, but guess what happened? I CAN EAT A CHEESEBURGER with NO CHEESE and I'm STILL ALIVE.

Small changes and decisions add up over time.


19. Everything you put in you body is either helping it or hurting it.

This one I'm still working on.

I repeat it to myself a lot.

But I temper this. I'm growing into this goal. I'm growing into this...

But indeed it's true: Small changes and decisions add up over time....


So there.
This is it.
This is where I am.
I'm comfortable in my skin and in my body.
I am who I am and you know what, I'm cool with it.

P.S. I am a coach and I run monthly accountability groups that aren't about the scale; they're about feeling good in your skin and developing healthy habits, mindfully. My next group starts March 5th. Want in? Fill out this form.

You can follow me at @TwoPretzelsFit on Instgram and on Facebook, Kylee Broughton Two Pretzels Fit.



  1. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read. Thank you for putting into words what I couldn't. My love for food has always been a problem for me and emotional eating is a huge problem that is slowly losing it's Hold On Me. Slowly, day by day the little changes will make a difference!

    1. I am so glad that this post resonated. Emotional eating is tough, man. But, you can absolutely overcome it. Keep going. You've got this.


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