I know I have referred to “fear foods” here before, and I’m not sure I have ever explained what exactly this term means to me. I’ve been thinking about fear foods a lot lately, because obviously I still struggle, and often it’s on a day-to-day basis. Also, because my dietitian asked me to make a list of fear foods and bring it to our next appointment. I’ve been putting it off, as talking and thinking about the method to my madness is uncomfortable for me in many ways. Writing is a healthy way to get my words out of my brain and onto a page, so thanks for reading, even if it’s just out of curiosity!
So. What is a fear food?
To me personally, a fear food is any edible item that causes me to feel anxious or uncomfortable around. Often, these items are “combination foods”, such as casseroles, pasta dishes, homemade desserts…the list goes on. Another oft feared category for me is anything I know to be high in fat or calories. Sometimes the “food” I fear can be simple, like milk or juice. Pizza and ice cream used to be my biggest fear foods, causing me to beg my parents to let me have something else for a meal…even though I absolutely adore the taste of both of these so called “junk foods”. Now, I eat ice cream nightly (a carton lasts me about 3 servings, thanks to my husband’s generous portions) and pizza is my favorite meal (I lost out on a lot of teenage pizza eating, OK?).
So why do I still have fear foods? Because I’m not fully recovered. Because I haven’t done that work yet, and because I’m stubborn. There are still foods/bevereges that aren’t favorites and yet a body could benefit from, such as: milk. I don’t “like” milk, but my body could use it. I also don’t like milk because of my little phobia around liquid calories. That’s where this fear food gets tricky. Because I hold one opinion and Ed holds another, and though I try to deny it, I am hearing Ed a little bit. Milk doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m afraid to drink calories, so there’s no drive behind the instruction to drink milk, not like there is with pizza. Tell me to eat more pizza, and I would.
What I wanted to dig into deeper is the emotions behind my thoughts and actions, because I think they are directly linked. So I asked myself: “what is the first emotion I feel when I think about having a glass of milk set in front of me, and being expected to drink it?”, and my answer is: defiance. Which honestly, is the first emotion I feel when being told to eat anything. I also feel anxiety, making my chest tight and my stomach queasy. I’ll often begin to imagine drinking it, maybe even taking a sip.
These emotions and feelings are uncomfortable, and easier to avoid than dwell on. Fear foods are easier to avoid than to dwell on, and the last stage for me, to dealing with a fear food, is body image. I still view my body as something to shrink, not something to nourish and care for. I yearn to look at my waist and not fear it expanding. It makes me uncomfortable to pull on a pair of jeans, and see a muffin top forming as I button them. And so I avoid what I fear, because somehow doing that will make my days easier.