For far too long, my excuse for not eating something on my “Do Not Eat” list has been that I don’t like it. Anything I deemed too fatty or unhealthy or calorie dense automatically clicked in my head as “I don’t like that.” Need examples? Here you go – roast, salad dressing, butter, white bread, white rice, store bought cookies, Nutella, peanut butter, string cheese, cheese in general, cream cheese – the list could go on. And I also had the foods that I was not allowed to eat during the day, but if I was “good” all day I could eat them at night because I had a calorie bank I still had room to fill for the day. When I write that, even I think, what in the world? That sounds completely ridiculous. What difference does it make if I eat something during the day or if I eat it at night? My therapist helped me see the illogical thought process behind these rules. I will never forget the Saturday at Melrose that I ate breaded chicken for lunch and had to fight ED tooth and nail the rest of the day, riddled by guilt for eating what ED had deemed “off limits.” So in essence, breaded chicken had the power to suck the joy out of my entire day. Holy balls. How did I let the evil-ness of ED run my mind like that? I’ll tell you why. Because ED is strong. ED is sneaky. ED is manipulative. And ED knows the power of guilt and fear. Guilt and fear lead to anxiety. Anxiety needs to be relieved. ED knows the easiest way to relieve that guilt-induced anxiety is to rely on his rules to bring my life back into “order”. Do you notice all of my quotes in this post? Those quotes are around words that I’m realizing are ED’s words. Those are what he put into my mind to manipulate and drive my life. But it happened for so long that I began to see these lies as normal, as my thoughts giving me the power of “health”. ED sucks. And now I know.
The best part of being home so far has been enjoying meals with my family. And it’s not the evening meal either. I have sat down with my boys to enjoy eggs and sausage for breakfast. I make lunch for my family and instead of me warming up a bowl of veggie soup, I have made turkey bacon ranch wraps and pulled pork sandwiches. I’m from Dutch heritage – I know that food is the heart of community. But not until these few days of being home have I finally truly understood that concept. Where I used to separate myself from my family by eating a separate meal and calling myself “healthy”, I now feel a new unity in sitting down at any meal and being able to enjoy what they do. So far, ED has been beaten down by the sheer joy I have been receiving simply from the act of breaking bread with those I love. We all share the same loaf, and this is making all the difference. ED’s ability to make me feel guilt is weakening because now that I’ve tasted the joy of unity with my family through food, I don’t know how I could ever go back to illogical and ridiculous rules that isolate me from the ones I love the most.