Just one more bite

I’ve been having food issues this week. It’s not that I dislike food; I just don’t like how it makes me feel. Do I have bulimia: definitely NO, I’m nauseas every day of my life but throwing up is not something I even consider to be an option so purging is definitely out of the question! The loss of power over my body is just way too much for me to fathom. Do I have anorexia: no… I don’t think so… but maybe…

 

I use to define Anorexia as an eating disorder that stems from wanting to be thin or seeing yourself as fat. I have discovered that this is only a tiny part of the definition: like most eating disorders it’s all about control. When you’re young and you have parents and teachers and sometimes even friends telling you what to do and the media telling you what is expected of you, it’s easy to feel like you have no power or control over anything in your life, which is frustrating considering the most important word in that sentence is ‘your’. One thing we can all control is what we put in our mouths… of course there are other things we can control like our attitude or how hard we try or our dreams and pretty much every other action but when you’re 12, you don’t really see it that way, all you can think of is your mother telling you to eat your broccoli. So taking control back by not eating or over eating or pretending to eat (purging afterwards) seems like a good idea that will prove to yourself that you are not worthless or just a bystander in your own life… This lie is what makes anorexia, all eating disorders in fact so dangerous.

 

Anorexia has a bit to do with the media image that tells us anything above a size zero is ‘plus size’ even thought they completely forget that zero is not a real number, it’s just a place holder… But that is a whole new conversation. This messed up media image we are so eager to follow has resulted in anyone who thinks they are fat actually seeing 25% (that is a whole quarter) of yourself more in the mirror and thus fuelling the notion that they are overweight. Not eating also has the added long term effect of messing with your biology so that your body starts rejecting food and making it physically difficult for you to eat nutritional portions. It gets to the point where scare tactics like ‘when your body runs out of fat and food it will feed off your muscles’ doesn’t even help even though most of us know that our biggest muscle is our heart and is also the biggest target aka causes death. It’s easy to say just eat your food but when your head is telling you that your body has enough food and anything else you’re eating will just make you feel ugly, it is really not a convincing statement. It’s easy to say that someone is not fat but when you look at yourself and all you can think of is every single bite you have ever eaten vs. every step you have taken and the pile of food in your head seems a lot bigger than the footsteps you took, it’s not a compelling argument. It’s easy to say that it’s all in your head or just get over it, but it really is a lot more complicated than that…

 

The strangest part about Anorexia is that the signs are not always as obvious as everyone thinks they are: you do not have to be skin and bones in order to be anorexic; you do not have to talk about fashion or your weight in order to be anorexic; you do not have to know the calorie count of a piece of lettuce to be anorexic; you just have to allow food to control you once… Recovery is even more confusing to those around you because you might be within your weight limits and eat every meal or at least those that people see and you might even eat more than your friends can fit onto a plate but that’s all because you’re terrified of slipping back into that place where food controls you…

 

So my story is a little complicated: not sure if I have anorexia or not, what I do know is that I hate food. I love cooking it and smelling it and the social factor that goes with it but actually eating it annoys me because I know that it will make me feel bad and not just emotionally because I let food and social pressure and my past control my choice to eat rather than be strong and say that I’m not in the mood for that particular bite at that particular moment, all because I’m afraid, but also physically. See I have this little excuse that can be blamed for my physical feelings. The thing that’s so frustrating is that I allow this little syndrome that is not even worth more than 2 lines in a medical dictionary determine how I live my life.

 

I have Gilbert Syndrome and it’s not really supposed to be a big deal but I was diagnosed with it at the age of 17 and it did change a lot of things in my life. Basically it means that my body doesn’t produce the chemical that collects the toxins in my blood that goes to my liver to be disposed off so it just stays in my body and is sort of like a never ending jaundice just varied in ferocity. It’s not as bad as an actual liver condition; it is not lethal but there isn’t a cure just some medications I really don’t want to take every day of my life treating the symptoms. So I spend most of my time watching my skin to see when I need to lay off anything fatty or remotely sweet or that even resembles unhealthy in any way and drink a lot of water. Everything I put in my body gets stuck there until I flush it out so I have to be careful of what I put in. Most people will see this as a good thing since it motivates me to be healthy but when all of your friends are eating pizza and you have to say no because if you don’t you will feel the consequences for the next 3days, it sucks and most of them don’t understand it so they jump to the conclusion that you have an eating disorder so you end up trying to prove that you don’t by eating stuff that makes you feel bad and psychologically proves to you that food equals feeling bad… Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way trying to justify my choices by blaming my friends for not understanding something I had trouble understanding, I just want you to know that it wasn’t a choice I made overnight or that I actually sat there and decided to hate food, it just built up and now I feel like I am doomed whether I eat or not.

 

I can go days without eating and it won’t even phase me, most times I don’t even run out of energy… eventually I’ll get a really bad headache and be forced to remind myself that starving my body is bad and the headache is it’s way of telling me that it needs something, that it needs food and that I have to consider the consequences of not eating and how dangerous it is. So I eat… and then I feel bad and then we start all over again. So I originally made up my mind to only eat things that my body wants to eat. But here’s the thing, firstly sometimes your body can be indecisive or you just have no idea how to read it’s mixed messages or you just don’t have every single thing on the planet in your fridge and secondly it’s quite exhausting to envision how everything is going to taste and make you feel and calculate if there are other products you could eat or drink that might counteract the negative feeling. So you end up standing in front of the fridge to that point where you’re actually getting a chill and then giving up because you have no idea what you’re body wants you to eat… resulting in not eating. And after you’ve done this for a month or so only eating the odd bite here and there you realize how far you can push your body before it feels bad. And you keep pushing it. Also, feeling bad because you did not eat is so much better than feeling bad because you did: see, if you feel bad because you ate something then it is your fault for introducing the toxins into your body but if you feel bad for not eating it gives you hope that the next time you have a bite of food to eat it will feel better and you can still get control back from your body… it’s better than the alternative.

Before I go any further, I just want to point out that I am stating what is going on in my head and what I have been through, in no way do I recommend or even endorse any of this! In fact I would encourage you to not follow my example at all, a medical opinion or 2 is always the best way to go. If they are not giving you enough info or giving you help that is actually working for you, challenge them, it is your life after all.

 

So I hate eating food and on a daily bases I try to remember to eat at least 3 times a day just so that I can say that I am eating and have some resemblance of healthy and ‘normal’. Half the time one plate of food takes me 6hours to eat because I would much rather be doing anything else so I allow myself to be distracted. However when I get back to that plate of food I use the simple logic: have one bite to prove that you are still in control, just do it, just eat that one bite. And some days it really takes a lot of work and convincing just to not spit it out as soon as it touches my tongue but at least at the end of the day I know that I will be able to live a lot longer than if I did not eat and put my body through that kind of strain that destroys my muscles and organs.

 

I know this sounds very mixed-message-like but that’s pretty much the ongoing conversation in my head and I’m not sure it will ever really end, but for now I just want to make sure that I can get through the day. That I will live long enough to have this conversation again tomorrow… Ultimately the battle between food and how I physically feel is a daily challenge and when the psychological confusion is brought into it, it can get really complicated and frustrating. So do I have anorexia? Well some would say yes, I would say: I don’t like labels so no… I don’t think so… but maybe…

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