I finished my lunch and sat craving the Kit-Kat that was stashed in my desk. I wanted to eat the Kit-Kat. As a teacher, we are often given treats as an act of gratitude. Sadly, in my disorder, my “thank you’s” were often thrown in the trash, given to a student, or simply left to rot in my desk.
“Why?” You may ask. Well, in my disordered brain, there were good foods and bad foods. I had grown up being told by people around me and society that “junk food” is poison. That sugar is the devil, and if you avoided the two you were strong willed and healthy. On the contrary, if you gave in, you were weak, unhealthy, and destined for your weight to spiral out of control. As I heard the old ED voice in my head threaten certain death if I did eat the Kit-Kat, my wise mind said, watch this… I am going to eat it, IN PUBLIC, and enjoy the heck out of it! Here is what I learned:
1. When you label foods, you label yourself.
In my disorder, there was a direct correlation with what I put in my body and the worth I put on myself.
Every bit of my self-esteem and self-worth came from what I allowed myself to eat.
Not only did I hold myself to those standards, but I held others to them as well. I remember therapists in treatment posing the question to the group, “Do you judge what others eat like you judge yourself?” Everyone in the group session would agree. “No way! We only criticize ourselves!” There I was in the background with eyes as big as the dinner plate. I was scrutinizing saying, “Hell yes I do! That is why I don’t eat the dang Kit-Kat! It makes me better than everyone who gives into the temptation!”
Yes, I admit it. My ED made me self-righteous and arrogant. I labeled myself with what I ate. The problem, besides the obvious a-hole and nature of this thinking, was that I was not as in control as I would have liked to believe. When I gave into a “bad food” craving, I beat myself up 10 fold. I labeled myself as a disgrace; as a worthless, no-will-power, disgusting human being that did not deserve to live. All over the decision to eat the stinking Kit-Kat!
When you put your worth in what goes in your mouth, you literally become what you eat… and a Kit-Kat is only a dollar, yet I am priceless.
All humans are priceless. Why put a dollar cap on a priceless commodity such as your life?
2. When you fight the ED voice, you come out victorious
Like I stated above, in my disorder, I NEVER ate “bad foods” in a public forum. Because I was embarrassed and ashamed to consume anything outside of my ED’s rule book. I remember filling out the intake form at the Manna Fund’s treatment facility. They asked me, “What food fears do you have?” I literally asked the intern supervising me, “Are you serious? Do you have more paper? It would just be easier to fill out the foods I will eat.” My suggestion didn’t work. She made me write them ALL down.
In the long run I was good because it gave me hard evidence on how ridiculous my eating disorder’s limitations truly were. These treatment centers truly know what they are doing, even though I fought them tooth and nail for so long! Now, in my recovery, I not only make a point to challenge myself to eat those foods I once deemed bad, but I also eat them in public!
So, just eat the Kit-Kat
Most non-disordered people think that it is normal to have cake at a birthday party or enjoy an ice cream cone at the local ice cream shop. But for me and that Kit-Kat, the public showing of enjoyment and consumption was monumental. And guess what? By eating the Kit-Kat, I proved to my wise mind that my ED brain in full of it… I did not gain weight uncontrollably. Not one person that saw me eat the candy called me disgusting. I didn’t die! My heart raced as though I was being thrown into the lion’s den as I did it. Eventually though, the feeling of anxiety and angst subsided.
I ate the candy, indulged in a craving, rode the wave, and lived to share my story with you fine people. So go ahead, eat the Kit-Ka. In public. With a smile on your face.
Lord knows your worth is not determined by sugar, carbohydrates, and coco-powder. ????
Brooke, thank you for sharing this delightful story! I’m struggling with recovery myself, and one of the hardest things that I’m fighting at the moment is eating those ‘fear foods’ in public. When I’m at home, I have the luxury of taking as long as I want to finish something – even if that means hours. But out in the real world, at restaurants, at work lunches, even in a coffee shop, it’s much harder. I’m glad to hear that you managed to eat that Kit-Kat, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as you deserved to.
Oh, Lily Mae! I am so glad you are fighting the good fight! You deserve to enjoy food in a social setting- just as we all do! I did enjoy the Kit-Kat! Ate powdered doughnuts for breakfast yesterday, too! Huge fear food conquered!!! They were also delicious! Love having a community to share my struggles and successes with! ????
How do you deal with the fear that it might become the norm for you to eat kit Kats all the time?!?
I am so terrified to eat a lot of foods or allow myself indulgence and enjoyment because what if I spiral out of control?
I am struggling so much to find help- your post resonated with me deeply. Thank you
Tyler- to be honest, I totally understand this fear… that is why it took me so long to eat fear foods. However, what I have found in Recovery is that since my body is not deprived of any nutrient and I allow myself to eat what I want, and I can practice moderation, not restriction, when it comes to my cravings. Because My body is no longer in starvation mode or deprived of foods, I no longer crave sweets and sugar all the time the time like I use to, but I can eat intuitively all foods. It takes time- there is no time limit on recovery and changing those thoughts and fears. Keep going, and reach out to me anytime! ❤
My challenge this week was eating a Cadbury Creme egg in my dietitian’s office. I struggle with “fear” (or as she says it “fun”) foods all the time. I buy them, have them in the house, then struggle to eat them. It’s part of my meal plan to have a “fun” food every day. So she offered, to make it easier, to have us each eat a fun food during our last appointment. Ate the whole thing and it was SOOO tasty!
Maureen- those are a household favorite of ours! My kids and I love getting to eat them together! So proud of your accomplishment! What a blessing to have the support of solidarity in a dietitian… and to get to eat such a delicious “fun food!” Love the term!