**Trigger Warning: Food & Eating Disorders**
I’ve talked heavily before about my eating disorders (see: Me and My Body and Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017) and how they seem distant, but honestly my relationship with food will never be okay, so I want to talk a little bit about it to help myself and possibly even you reading. Basically, I just want a bit of a ramble after a friend of mine asked me recently about my relationship with food.
Food scares me. It really bloody scares me. When my ED isn’t so bad, I eat pretty much whatever I want without a care in the world (possibly because I’m much too scared to think of the consequences). When it’s really bad, I’ll be scared to consume even the basic human calorie needs – just the start of this year I’d cry if it was over 300 calories a day. Currently, I get worried at the 1000 calorie mark, which in comparison to January is a whole lot better.
I’ll often find myself thinking a lot about food but this manifests in a lot of different ways. I may find how crazy and complicated the whole digestion process is, from tasting food to it travelling through my body and within 15 minutes giving me Frank the Food Baby. Sometimes I’ll just be plain hungry and imagine all the food I’d like to eat, knowing that I’ve used up that day’s calories and will have to wait another 13 hours to eat. And sometimes it’s just simply a numbers game with the bathroom scales.
I’ve talked about my troubles with food at school, stuck in a binging/starving cycle, but this intensified when in 2013, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Suddenly, it made it clear why – despite never reaching over a UK size 12, yet for the best part of my life a size 8 – my weight was fluctuating every few months, sometimes just within the monthly cycle. It just reaffirmed that I need to be careful with food, which doesn’t help when I think I’m at least 5 dress sizes bigger than I am.
I know my value isn’t based on my weight and that my friends and family will love me whether I’m a size 6 or size 26, but that doesn’t stop the struggle within my brain. In fact, sometimes it’s a struggle with my whole body, which you will be able to empathise with if you’ve ever had any kind of illness where your eating habits have been affected. You become ridiculously lethargic, constantly freezing cold, dizzy and your concentration is non-existent. It’s no kind of life to lead.
Last year, I became vegetarian again – I was vegetarian between the ages of 15 and 17 – after educating myself on the meat industry (which is an awful industry, but you do you hun, I’m not here to preach). The main reason was the ethical factor, but a side effect has been that I’m filling my body with more veg than back when I was an omnivore (nuggets and chips was a staple). However, it’s made me increasingly aware of what I am consuming, which is both good and bad.
Sometimes – when I’m being completely narcissistic – I’m worried that these fears and habits are unique to me. Then I’ll pick up a fashion magazine and realise these fears are realised by every woman who has ever seen an advert, magazine, any kind of media in which models, actresses and celebrities are made up and airbrushed within an inch of their lives talking about how they eat so healthily by starving themselves and taking copious amounts of drugs, let alone the amount of surgery they may have had. Perhaps not every woman who’s seen these images are affected to the same extent of an eating disorder, but certainly to some extent (just think of the millions that feed into the ‘bikini body’ BS every summer).
Quite frankly, my relationship with food is very strange and it’s frustrating that such a basic necessity can have such a huge impact on my life. It angers me, it upsets me yet sometimes it gives me a strange sense of pleasure to be in control of something.
**If you or your loved one’s condition is critical, suicidal, or just very worrying, please call 999. You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 – 24 hours a day or Mind‘s infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)**