I’m watching my parents’ house this week. My brother is probably the most “normal” eater I’ve ever met, and sometimes, I watch him, amazed at his simultaneous passion for food and complete disconnect from the emotional intensity that comes with the act of eating. Similar to those “foodies” I once admired, he will research, salivate, and devour his meals, able to absolutely eat what he loves, leave the rest, and move on with his day. He is thin as a rail and has never had a weight problem. He likes “food challenges.” He will try just about anything deep-fried and not think twice about it. Or he can nibble on random things all day, because he’s hungry for them. My brother has Type 1 Diabetes, which is a chronic disease, so he has to be cautious in what he eats to maintain his blood sugar. This could be a detrimental sentence, but he stays incredibly healthy, maintains his physical fitness, and takes care of himself. I admire him. I always have, not just because of the way he eats, but because he knows how to make himself feel good and he chases that feeling.
I used to hate having junk food in the house. I honestly believed it was the reason for my eating disorder. I thought I had broken willpower, and I assumed that if the items were not there to trigger me, I would eat normally and all would be okay. I could not comprehend that life itself can be triggering, and it’s not about the food.
However, because of this thinking, I bought all my own groceries, under the pretense that I needed my “safe foods.” I still go grocery shopping for myself, but it’s not with the same, frantic I-need-to-buy-these-foods-or-I-will-be-unable-to-function mindset. The strange thing is, despite the abundance of my former, standard binge foods in my family’s kitchen, I don’t feel either triggered or tempted. I’m not thinking about them. In fact, most of these packages and boxes remain unopened. I think of it kind of as exposure therapy–put the most anxiety-provoking items all in one place and learn how to manage the emotions that accompany the situation. One year ago, and I would have been an utter mess under these kinds of circumstances.
I am learning how to equalize all foods and eat normally again. So far, my progress has been tremendous. I don’t discount that for one second. But despite this growth and strength, there are still some foods that carry high emotional turmoil and nearly induce mild trauma to me. I don’t believe in using the word trauma lightly, but any form of harm and threat, even when it is self-induced, can invoke high-intensity emotions that may last for years…to me, that is what bingeing has done.
Pop-tarts, almond butter, those pink and white sprinkle cookies (I forget the brand name), frozen waffles, Famous Amos cookies, tortilla chips, Oreos…these are foods I typically either avoid with fierce rigor or binge on. In other words, I have not been able to eat them in an appropriate quantity. At least not often. For years, they were my drugs of choice. They are all currently in the kitchen right now.
But, I may challenge myself to try and work through some of these “fear foods” this week. Because, why not? Because, I like recovery challenges. Because, I like beating Bee with every opportunity that arises. Because, I don’t need to fear food, and I can learn how to eat them without obsessing, dwelling, regretting, restricting, or bingeing. In fact, I’ve already started doing so with almond butter, and so far, so good. All it takes is the realization that, at the end of the day, it’s just food. Food can be enjoyed, savored, and all foods can be eaten in healthy moderation. Even my self-pronounced trigger foods. Even foods that may lack nutritional benefits.I don’t have to eat it all in one sitting. I don’t have to abuse my body. I don’t have to fall prey to the black-and-white, I’ve already fucked up my whole day, logic. This is why I love the principles of intuitive eating in working eating disorder recovery. Primal eating, listening and honoring the body and ignoring societal rules and letting go of any and all dieting measures. Structure and rigidity maintained my sickness; dismantling that and working towards liberation and freedom of such bondage is the best medicine for me.
It is a gloomy Sunday morning out here in Southern California. The boyfriend and I were planning on going to the beach this afternoon, but it looks like it’s going to rain, so we may change our plans. Things between us are going so well. It just keeps getting better and better. Euphoria has not faded. He’s on my mind all the time. I’ll be working all week, but we’re going away next weekend for a mini vacation.
I’m disgustingly happy and have to pinch and remind myself nearly everyday that this is my reality now 🙂