Can you imagine what it would be like to not eat macaroni and cheese for years? Or any kind of pasta? To have missed out on gooey melted cheese sandwiches and crunchy sugar laden cereals soaking in milk? Or if these are things you don’t really find that appetizing, how about a food you really enjoy. Anorexia isn’t just about not having an appetite, which is a pretty ancient way of describing it. Sure, the hunger signals go away for the most part, your stomach shrinks to the size of a clementine, and you’re constantly hangry…it’s tough denying yourself delicious foods all day everyday, and when you do allow yourself to eat something that’s not “safe” you practically kill yourself with guilt.
After years of starving and not allowing certain foods, I’m a little excited to try stuff I haven’t in years. Milkshakes are the devil. Homemade cookies are so tempting but give me nightmares (I seriously have nightmares where people are trying to trick me into eating foods that are “bad”…there’s no escaping this thing!). Pasta is so very terrible, but I had some this week when I had dinner with my husband. At first, when he told me what he was making I panicked. What was he going to put on it? What kind of pasta? Would I be satisfied after eating it? After the initial anxiety-riddled thoughts, I calmed down enough that by the time dinner rolled around I found myself enjoying the bowtie pasta and garlic bread. Luckily I had someone there with me ready to tell me it was OK, I was OK, pasta would not ruin me.
Every time I see my dietitian she asks me what area I would like to work on. She also offers to throw the challenge out there, if that is what I need. Eating lunch by 1:30. Trying a different restaurant. Buying full fat, “regular” yogurt (the coffee flavored varieties are fab!). Eating an extra protein with my snack. Adding a cup of milk over the course of the day (probably still the hardest one to implement so far). All of these things have been beneficial. I feel so much more satisfied and full throughout the day, though I know I have miles to go. Something I really find myself still having a tough time with is exchanges…for example, if I wanted to have a bowl of cereal, Ed would say I’d not be able to have my regular breakfast. Logical me knows that having cereal in addition to my breakfast and everything else would actually be a good thing. But not Ed. Or a milkshake…where in the world would that fit into my meal plan? It wouldn’t, says Ed. Finding ways to outsmart Ed is hard, since its like trying to outsmart myself…but it is possible. Often it’s the thoughts and feelings the precede the consumption that are most difficult. Afterwards I am able to do some good self talk and see that everything is fine.
There are so many foods I would like to start to eat again. Ed likes to tell me that he doesn’t ever want me to have certain foods, and if I do have to have one then never again will it be allowed. That’s one reason why, in the past, I found myself simply cutting some foods out entirely or finding low calorie ways to prepare them so as to keep Ed placated. It’s embarrassing to think about the ways I cut corners to make foods seem real, but as light as possible. I ate the way someone on “My 500 Pound Life” should eat, and honestly, if Ed was still as strong as he has been in the past, I still would eat that way. I can still feel him there. He tells me no one will know if I don’t drink my milk. It’s always the milk, too…never anything else. I haven’t given in, and I have no intention to. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and I think he’s out to get me. He’d really like to see me dead, and I have decided to do the exact opposite now. Ed has a powerful hold over me, but if I really think about it, he’s had multiple chances to take me down all the way if he wanted to. And he never did, even when he got close. I’m really scared to write this and put this idea out there, because I know people are going to follow up on it…but I am up for some food adventures. They may seem mild and dumb compared to eating octopus, but they’re almost as foreign to me. The foods that come to mind right now? Homemade macaroni and cheese, Apple crisp, English muffins with butter (did I seriously just write that?) and jelly, a milkshake, grilled cheese, homemade wheat bread and butter (yup), breaded mozzarella sticks and marinara, a veggie burger and fries. Last but not least: some kind of Starbucks specialty drink (I have NEVER had one). Feel free to sign up in the comments for a chance to help me experience these delectable concoctions! Close family and husband get first dibs, of course.