I haven’t linked up with WIAW in awhile but this is a post that seems fitting to me. I’ve been meaning to write it for awhile, and I finally sat down and got it done last weekend.
Starting at a young age, I feared food. My parents would make me lunches to take to my babysitter’s house every day and she would fight me tooth and nail trying to get me to eat whatever was packed for me. I’ve been a picky eater since I was 2 or 3 years old. I don’t know why I had aversions to yogurt, peanut butter, and other common foods kids ate, but I did.
As I got older, my parents continued trying to make me eat things I “didn’t like” without much success. I would eat whatever they did at dinner each night and cry my way through the meal whenever we had seafood, chicken, pork, broccoli, rice…- pretty much anything besides pasta and hamburgers. Miserable for all parties, clearly.
By high school, my parents pretty much gave up trying to get me to eat like a normal person. I slightly expanded my palate to include chicken and pork, but there were some foods that were still completely off-limits and they accepted that (seafood being the main one). They began making extras whenever we had a meal I liked so I could have leftovers whenever they were making something I wouldn’t eat.
The thing is, while I tried a lot of foods growing up, I also declared that I “hated” a lot of things even if I’d never had them before. I was afraid of trying new things.
My food fears quickly grew from a general distaste to fearing food in general. By the time I graduated from high school, I was deep into my eating disorder. I convinced myself I no longer liked my favorite foods- pizza, goldfish, even healthy foods like grapes and carrots because they were too high in calories. I wouldn’t try anything new (unless I heard it was really healthy and low-calorie), and I wouldn’t eat anything I didn’t consider safe. I was literally terrified of food.
Recovering from the eating disorder was kind of fun at first. Suddenly my doctors were telling me all the foods I was afraid of were okay and good for me to eat. Milkshakes, pizza, hamburgers, and cheezits became huge parts of my life. My RD’s only goal was to get me to stop being afraid of foods I used to love, and to get me to branch out and try new foods at my own pace. For me, that meant letting myself go out for pizza, or having a milkshake for the first time. Sometimes it was picking a different brand of tortellini at the grocery store, or trying a new kind of granola bar.
I was still afraid of food, but I was slowly expanding my palate. It was during the early stages of recovery that I discovered a love of zbars, sesame sticks, and sunflower seeds. I still didn’t eat the foods I didn’t like prior to the ED, but I made huge progress.
Then came the next (and for me the hardest and longest) stage of recovery: extreme hunger. My RD said once I started allowing myself to eat normal amounts of food again, I would likely lose control. I laughed it off and said that would never happen to me because I have more self-control than anyone. I had no idea. The binge-like tendencies are a direct result of fearing hunger. After restricting for so long, feeling the slightest bit hungry can send the body into panic mode and makes you crave everything that you never let yourself eat. It’s something nobody talks about because it’s embarrassing, but I went through it like so many others recovering from an eating disorder.
Finally, I reached the point I was at pre-eating disorder sometime last winter. I was no longer afraid of eating food or feeling hungry, but I still had the fear of trying new foods. That’s where I was at until a few months ago. I was in my safe little bubble where I’d eat the same thing every day and didn’t want anything to disrupt my perfect routine. I knew what I’d eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner about 5 days a week and would “wing it” about twice a week at dinnertime. I was perfectly content with the way I was living. To me, it felt normal.
Until now. I still eat the same things for the most part. I love bagels and hot chocolate, pumpkin bread, apples, carrots, ice cream, grilled chicken salad, tortellini, and pizza. But I’m also learning to be flexible. When I’m with KBT and we don’t have dinner plans, we’ll go out and I order a burger. When he makes dinner, I’m not going to say “no, I don’t like that” just because I’ve never had it before. And guess what? I found out I actually like turkey burgers (despite hating turkey), I love pesto on pasta, pirogis aren’t bad (even though I don’t like mashed potatoes), and I’ll eat salad without picking out the tomatoes. I still don’t love meatballs but I’m trying. I’ll eat french toast instead of bagels on the weekends, but KIND Bars? Still can’t get on board with those. I’m no longer AS afraid of trying new foods. I’ve finally reached that final “stage” where I’m just living. It’s really freeing.
I’m still picky, but I won’t say I don’t like something if I haven’t eaten it before. For anyone who has ever struggled with an eating disorder or picky eating, there’s hope. My parents never thought they’d see the day where I’d order something without making substitutions, let alone try a turkey burger. My friends are shocked that I’m not “all about desserts” anymore (I still love all things sugar, but they aren’t the omg.best.thing.I’ve.ever.eaten).
I may never be a “normal” eater but for me, I’m more normal than I’ve ever been. And I love it.
Have you ever gone through “stages” with your eating? Do you tend to eat the same things every day?