Don’t Be Fooled. Numbers and Food Make a Dangerous Couple

numbers and food ed recovery

Before my recovery, food was simply synonymous with math. My favorite Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream was stripped of its deliciousness and replaced with a simple number. I began seeing the food I ate as calculations- completely disregarding any other factors. Whether it be the delicious flaky pie crust my grandmother made or the refreshing taste of lemonade on a blistering summer day. Numbers and food were attached in my mind.

Food is not merely numbers.

Through recovery my control over these numbers was removed, thus exposing me to the other qualities food had to offer. I began to appreciate the complexities of different foods. Along with being satisfied by such for the first time in years. Food became a sense of emotion- not unlike the infamous cheese tasting scene in ratatouille- where I slowly began to enjoy myself and appreciate food for all it had to offer.

Still equating food and numbers

Yet even after treatment, I still found myself unconsciously counting foods. I allowed myself to finally have that mint ice cream, yet was locked by how much of it I enjoyed. Although I was able to focus on the simple pleasure the tasty treat brought and satisfy my nutritional requirements, it was that specific number that I couldn’t seem to ever go over. Even if it was a spoonful or two. 

Sometimes the hardest part of recovery is learning how to forget the little things, even if they don’t seem harmful. These little disordered behaviors often hold the key to freedom in both mind and body.

Taking a scoop right out of the tub immediately made me feel uneasy about my decisions. I should just put it back. Maybe I’ll compensate by taking a spoonful out of my portion. I felt like I was at square one. I’d thought of myself as completely healed and ready to take on anything, as I allowed myself to eat anything I craved. Yet I found myself still subconsciously trapped by these numbers. 1 portion, 2 servings. Deviating from these numbers reminded me of my old habits. The very ones I’d tried so hard to stop. 

The part that got me wasn’t eating what I craved-it was not knowing exactly how much I’d eaten.

A New Take on Food and Numbers

As I ate that spoonful, I felt the pesky feelings of guilt arise. Yet I felt my body craving it, and I’d already gotten so far that I wasn’t going to let a spoonful take me back. There was no compensation too. It was being okay with the fact that I’d eaten more than what I thought I needed. When in actuality, I was simply letting myself have what I truly did. 

Now, some days I’ll have more ice cream and others I’ll have less.

Letting go of not attaching a specific number to what I ate freed me and allowed me to truly listen to what my body needed.

It wasn’t about having 1 specific serving, it was simply eating until I felt satisfied. Some days I felt hungrier than others. Learning to honor that allowed me to focus on the more beautiful aspects of life without needing to count what I’d eaten.  

Not knowing the specifics was the hardest part. Yet I found my body already knew that number. I didn’t need to worry about what that was.

(Last Updated: June 8, 2022)

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