How’s Your Relationship with Food? PART 1

I don’t talk about this very much, only when someone asks or during a nutrition seminar will I start to get in to my past relationship with food a little bit.

Today I’ll try to give you the full story. My relationship with food as a kid was pretty normal I’d say. My mom would cook dinners and make us breakfast and lunch. She was very health conscious and food was pretty balanced. We also got to have treats or dessert as long as we finished or veggies. 

When I was in grade 6 we moved to a new school and I went through a growing phase and I was a bit chubby for a while. I was the new kid, kinda introverted, didn’t have a big personality and was easy picking for school bullies. I got picked on pretty bad by kids half my size but twice as big of mouths. It hurt really bad and it gave me anxiety going to school. My aggression came out during sport and I was playing hockey, lacrosse and baseball during that time and any chance I got to lay someone out I did.

I grew out of that phase going into high school, I got taller, I leaned out but I still was emotionally hurt by what I went through during that time and I was scared of being made fun of or picked on. During grade 9 I wasn’t much of a talker, had my group of friends but didn’t want to get into any situations where I could be teased, again I took my energy out during school sports. I played on the rugby team and became quickly known in the school as the kid who would murder people on the field. That year I broke a kids collarbone, forearm and knocked a kid out with clean hits. I was also involved in some bench brawls and ruck fights.

The reason I’m telling you this is during that time I ate normal, never really thought too much about food just eat when I’m hungry but that teasing and anxiety for grade 6 stuck with me, I hated the way those kids made me feel and I associated that feeling with me being chubby or overweight. Not how a kid should feel while going through an awkward stage of existence.

Fast forward towards the end of high school and I’d been training at Kombat Arts for a couple months when I decided I wanted to compete. I signed for the Ontario Open in the No-Gi beginners class in the 170 pound division. I hired a trainer to get me stronger and he gave me a diet to cut from 185 down to 170 pounds and that diet changed my life and how I viewed food for a long time. I cut 15 pounds in 3 weeks, ate 2000 cals a day as a 17 year old who’s metabolism was jacked up and I was working out 2-3x a day. I was shredded come fight day. I looked how I always dreamed I would with abs and capped shoulders. I starved everyday but come fight day after weigh in and re-feed, I won 5 fights to win Gold with former UFC fighter Mark Bocek as the ref for the Gold medal match. I was addicted, I associated that diet and all that training and the way I looked with a feeling of happiness and victory and me having control.

After that, I spent years under-eating to stay around the weight I wanted, the weight and look I associated with happiness and victory and ultimately where no one could ever make fun of me for being fat. I was obsessed with my routines, my food, keeping my carbs in check, eating plates of veggies to make me feel a bit fuller. I trained and fought like an animal with a inner drive that not too many people could match. I got away with it for a long time, I was young and my body would adapt. I would never really eat more than 2200-2400 cals a days with my output being double that most days.

I remember hating people around me who would eat chocolate bars or fries and milkshakes, looking at them like they were disgusting. Inside I would just want to eat one myself. Food was starting to control me as all I could think about was my next meal, and how long that energy would last, I would have crazy cravings cause I didn’t have enough.

As I write this I look back and just feel sad for that person, I stopped going out with friends as much cause social situations usually required beer and food. The only good thing that happened is I became one resilient person, if I could torture myself like that for years, who could make me feel like I did in grade 6 again? only myself.

I was 22 years old, I was getting ready for a fight and walked into Kombat arts for a training session made my way to the change room, took my shirt off, looked in the mirror, sat down on the bench and cried. Why? I had no reason. I was burnt out beyond what I could handle any more. I was hungry, tired, over trained, under fed and hurting. I got blood work done that week and my results came back with my white and red blood cell counts being all over the map in the wrong direction. They thought I might have blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma. SO I underwent some tests and a bone marrow hip distraction. Where they took a pens length and thickness of marrow out of my hip bone, they had a couple doctors hold me down and 1 drilled into my hip to take it out, pretty medieval if you ask me.

Nothing came back but I knew what the issue was. I was undernourished, underfed and worked out too much for my intake and my body was compensating in ways I had no idea about to try to keep me doing the things I was doing. And that time I was working out 2-3x a day and working delivering fridges and stoves for my dad all day 14-15 hours a day of hard and workouts. 22-2400 calories a day in intake. Mentally and Physically exhausted, obsessed with what I ate and when and how much, how I looked, what my weight class was and inside I was just hurting.

How is your relationship with food? Does it control you? DO you eat enough? or too much?

I’d love to hear your story, sometimes it’s just good to talk about it. Email me at and I’d be happy to talk

How did I overcome this? Stay tuned next week for PART 2
-Coach Dan