Where the Tongue is Attached

I’ve struggled with food and my relationship to weight for most of my adult life—gaining, losing, wanting to eat, always wanting to eat—no matter the occasion.  I’ve consumed when sad, happy, alone or with others.  Food has soothed and comforted in a way little else could.  Eating or not eating, dieting or not dieting—I’ve always done one or the other and often in the extreme.

image from kidzklamode

However, adding mental illness to this equation complicates the dynamic even further—especially when one takes antipsychotic drugs which stimulate the appetite, slow the metabolism, and, as my doctor put it, “increase body mass”—

—Never a positive combination, but an especially negative one for a woman obsessed with being thin, but equally obsessed with sourcing her next meal.

I’m fortunate never to have developed overtly disordered eating, but in 1989, when I began taking anti-psychotic drugs—specifically, Stellazine and Navane—the struggle intensified, as I was perpetually hungry—appetite personified.

I wrote the following poem, describing my struggle:


oral fixation


i am in the kitchen

trying not to



bending over

the sink







bending over

the sink


               hunger is


at the base of the mouth

              where the tongue

              is attached

image from nublog


              (or not attached)


at the bottom


which makes

me think




which makes

me think




How would you characterize your relationship to food, to hunger, to appetite?  Do you articulate who you are and how you feel about yourself in terms of what you eat or don’t eat?


34 thoughts on “Where the Tongue is Attached

  1. I’m really not a foodie, and it doesn’t matter much. When I am working I even forget to eat and skip meals many times. However, this has caused troubles so I try and maintain a proper diet in accordance with time. I do have a separate stomach for fast food, seems to me.

    Nice touch to the poem at last. Were you mesmerized by the food visible to your eyes?


    • Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I didn’t love food so much! But, yes, I am mesmerized by the sight of food–but I don’t have to see it to crave it–if that makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to comment today–great to hear from you!


  2. Oh, sister, I am right there with you. Everything you said could have come out of my mouth (or gone into my mouth). I, too, have tried every diet, self-help good guru and management system. Food was my first way to self-medicate (high fat and high carbs do increase seratonin, research says). It still works, it’s just that the consequences have caught up with me.

    Today (how synchronistic!) I’m returning my attention to my food choices. When I come back from an episode, it takes effort and focus to start over. I know what to do—compulsive eaters *always* know what to do—so I will add this large slice of self-management to my plate.

    I don’t like how bloated and uncomfortable I feel now. This initial motivation will wear out—it always does—but I’ll carry it as long as I can.


    • Good luck with your renewed effort, Sandy! I’ve been having that same, awful, bloated feeling! I hate it! And, yes, the high fat/high carb thing does work–works well–always makes me happy–to a degree. Hope you have a great day, my friend!


  3. I don’t have a very refined palate (I think it’s because my palate is extremely sensitive. With spicy food, even if it’s labeled “mild,” I often find myself with runny eyes and nose, chugging water between bites), so I tend to eat what others would call “bland” foods. Unfortunately for my body, those “bland” foods are often potato or rice products.

    I would like to try to retrain my palate so that I can enjoy vegetables and fruit more. The trouble I encounter, though, is that (because of my sensitive palate) most vegetables are terribly bitter. I don’t want to douse the veg in dressing because that sort of defeats the purpose of eating something healthy, but it sure does help the taste.

    I guess my relationship with food is one of helpless frustration. I know what is healthy, why it’s healthy, and how eating more of the healthy food will assist my body. But when it comes to eating the healthy stuff, I just don’t feel the same kind of enjoyment that I get from eating the other. I realize that eating isn’t all about just enjoying what’s in your mouth…but…I’m pretty sure I’ve heard a lot of skinny foodies say before just how much they derive pleasure from eating. It’s frustrating. :\ That’s my relationship. I’m frustrated.


    • I am so, so with you here, Amanda. My thing is not so much rice and potatoes as it bread and anything sweet. Probably, my palate is NOT refined–though I suppose my Sara is helping to educate me in ths regard. I too know what I should eat–but, damn it–it isn’t what tastes good to me! Here’s to pathetic palate–not that yours is pathetic–but mine sure is!


  4. Oh, I’m a total foodie. Which really translates to snob. I’d rather be caught wandering down the side of the road with my pants around my ankles than eating a Hot Pocket, for instance.


  5. Kathy–I can relate to most of this except the prescription drug part–the having something outside of myself messing with what I think I want or need. That’s a tremendous challenge, I imagine. One more layer to have to work through.

    I LOVE food…I have struggled with my weight, body image, health…

    not so much anymore…I mean, I still love food….


    about 8 years ago, I had my jaw broken and reset, had my upper teeth sawed off from my skull and the bone sized down and re-set and stitched…50 stitches above, several below…(long story…teeth that didn’t function well, and a HUGE overbite that I was tremendously self-conscious about) (orthognathic surgery)

    for the next 6 weeks, all I could do was drink my food (and, I do NOT recommend any kind of pasta dish run through a blender…no. bad. gumbo isn’t bad, but spaghetti is gagadocious…)–soups, smoothies, shakes, casseroles–you name it, I tried to drink it…

    anyway…it became so clear to me that food was only fuel. with the mechanics of chewing taken out of the equation, it was easy to see (it took a couple of weeks) the relation to hunger/satisfaction and the elemental purpose of food…(to give me energy)

    once I could begin eating again, it was a bummer, quite honestly…

    Also, I believe God gives us cravings that only He is able to fill…

    this verse is a tremendous blessing to me:

    Psalm 16:5-6 (New International Version)

    5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
    6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.

    I don’t know how to explain it…I just know that, the times I have been the most unhealthy (and that doesn’t mean my most heavy–although sometimes that was the case) have been the times my walk with God or my trust in him or belief in him has been the most shaky or tenuous. Or when my back has been turned away entirely.

    And…choosing to be active (even though that doesn’t mean I will EVER look like an olympic athlete) is a lifesaver. The lime kind. 🙂

    I feel you, Kathy! Please know I am holding your hand in this–cybertronically. 🙂


  6. As you know from some of my recent posts, Kathy, I have also struggled with my relationship to food. I am learning (with difficulty, I’ll admit) that the food part is only a symptom of a deeper desire/need I have to *control* everything. I think when I finally come to a point of acceptance (of myself, of circumstances, etc.), the food issues will fall away with zero effort on my part.


    • I’m sure that my issue with food is also rooted in control issues! How important it seems to be able to manage one area of our lives perfectly! I have always soooooooo appreciated your writing about this issue, Dana!


  7. Food and I have not always had a very good relationship. My weight has been up, down, and all around over the years. I’m currently transitioning to a vegan way of eating, or at least hoping to get to the point where at least 95% of what I eat is plant-based. The fact that I’m not aiming for perfection in veganism is a good sign. It means I’m being realistic for a change rather than taking the all or nothing attitude that has plagued me in the past.

    I suspect I may have a touch of body dysmorphic disorder as well. I tend to see myself as MUCH larger than I am. A good example is the story of when I met a friend from the internet. We were meeting in a busy spot in London (England) and had not seen photos of each other so we had to rely on descriptions we gave. My friend, Mona, said later that she walked by me at least four times because she had been expecting to meet a gargantuan-sized woman, not someone normal sized. It’s a good thing I recognized her from her description (and that searching look people get when they’re looking for someone) or we might have missed meeting each other.


    • Goodness, Robin–this sounds like me! My Sara insists I am not fat–but I am CERTAIN that I am. I don’t know which of us is right–but what amazes me is that our perceptions are sooooooo different! That’s a great story! Perfect illustration!


  8. Pingback: In Praise of the Pathetic Palate | reinventing the event horizon

  9. I have a really dysfunctional relationship with food. Left to my own devices, I would just eat ice cream and chocolate all day. I don’t really get excited about anything else. So I have to put myself on a regimen of healthy eating and try to follow it as much as possible. That works until I hit the candy jar at the office.


    • Yes, yes, I understand! I used to have myself on a regimen of healthy foods, but that became more difficult for me when I didn’t live alone anymore! Sara is an AMAZING cook and her food makes me want to eat, eat, eat!


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  11. Food is one of the staples of my emotional diet … so to speak. Ironically when I am most centered and in my element, I rarely focus on material food. I find other forms of sustenance more to my taste in those moments. Love the poem!


  12. I am so understanding this post! 🙂 I’m on medication which has the same effect as yours. Some days are okay and I will eat normally. Other days I have an incredible craving for carbohydrates (the bad kind!). My doctor says this is a “normal” side effect. So I try to eat healthy most of the time, and sometimes give in to the cravings . . .


    • Yes, I can imagine migraine medication might be similar–so bless your heart! I feel for you, my friend! And isn’t it just the pits that the cravings are always for carbs–amd bad carbs at that! Holy Oreo, Batman!


  13. Wonderful Kathy! In my case, since I got hurt…food always became the security blanket that I had not had since childhood…..Most of my weight gain was during the many Depression episodes of the past 12 years. It got to where I was about 150 lbs heavier than when I was in college….. yikes!!


    • Yikes, indeed, but depression makes me want to eat, as well! Some folks though actually lose weight when depresssed. Seems to me if you have to be miserable, you mighty as well lose a few pounds. This weight gain thing sucks!


  14. I think we all have issues with food to some degree. For me, it’s a desire to eat “healthy” and an inability to follow through on that desire. So I eat what’s available, or quick, or easy and then I regret it later as I worry what diseases are slowly developing inside of me because of my poor food choices. And I don’t drink enough water, eat enough fruits or veggies, get enough protein or fiber or calcium. Ahhh… but sometimes, food is just pure pleasure… like a hot fudge sundae!


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