Why I Never Forget To Eat
Originally posted on Huffington Post
There are some people that simply forget to eat out of busyness or preoccupation. I am not one of those people.
I never have been, and I never will be -- and here's why.
I dedicated about 15 years (nearly half my time in this world) to "forgetting" to eat breakfast, not letting even one morsel past my lips before the clock struck noon. I took pride in this perceived strength, savoring the rush I acquired from the feeling of emptiness. The remainder of my day was spent portioning, restricting, counting, calculating -- and basically waiting for the day to pass.
Although to onlookers it may have seemed like I simply forgot to eat, or wasn't very hungry, my reality was harsh: my head buzzed with thoughts of food, my body was weak with deprivation, my mind was consumed with food related judgements, contemplations, and ideas.
But I never forgot about food. You see, I couldn't forget. "Instead of thinking of yourself as full, try imagining yourself as no longer empty," my therapist suggested (in a careful attempt to help me combat that uncomfortable feeling of being full).
For half my life, everything was about food -- yet it wasn't.
Many eating disorder professionals, eating disorder sufferers, and those in recovery agree with the cognitively dissonant idea: it's not about the food, it is about the food. In fact, Carolyn Costin dedicated a separate chapter in her book for each sentiment. Two different contradictory beliefs and ideas about food existed in my mind at the same time, causing me a lot of unnecessary grief. I knew that I needed it, but I simply couldn't allow myself to have it. My mind and soul were consumed by thoughts of food, yet my body remained quiet and hungry.
For half my life, I was a slave to food. For half my life, I was a slave to remaining empty.
Now, I never forget to eat.
Not because I'm faking it, ignoring it, or suppressing it; but because with a lot of guidance, support, and coaching -- I learned how to listen to my body. I learned to recognize hunger cues, and feed them. I learned to practice intuitive eating, mindfulness, and respect for my body. I learned to ignore the chatter of other people's self-disparaging talk, I learned to drown out the conversations about dieting, and I learned the dangers of labeling foods "good" or "bad." I learned to cast that shadow of a life away, and I learned to live.
Food has now become exactly what it is -- fuel.
And I can't afford to forget it.