The bottle promises no fat, no calories. Nothing. Nada. There’s some sodium listed, but what’s that going to do? If there are no calories and no fat, just intense and awesome flavor to go with my bland, almost-no-calories vegetables. I’ve found myself a real miracle! Or, so I thought. This was literally my thought process when I picked up my first bottle of butter spray.
That magic, yellowy goodness. It would be many, many (many!) more bottles after that before I would realize how amazingly stupid my thinking was.
“It’s a spray, Callie,” my Recovering Self would say. “Sure, if you spray just a few squirts like normal people would, it probably doesn’t have a single calorie.”
But, when I was wrestling every day with a hairy, domineering eating disorder, I was nothing like normal people. I did not spray. I doused, I drenched. Food was drowned in that butter spray.
I didn’t even bother with the spritzer. Are you kidding? Who has time to spray one hundred sprays? Just unscrew the squirt top and pour that buttery goodness into a dish!
Then I can dunk my minimal calorie items in and enjoy a filling, tasty meal!
I hate to say these were real thoughts for me at the time, but they were. I don’t want to share with you how many bottles of butter spray I consumed when I was on “that diet.” You’ll have to humor me a little and let me call it that, for purposes of demonstration.
And, please do, because as I was recovering I had to humor myself quite a bit. And laugh at myself often. You should, too!
I ate so much butter spray during that phase that my hands and fingers began to turn orange. I later learned it was from the beta carotene they use to dye the spray.
They have to dye it, because I’m not even sure it really qualifies as a food. It’s probably a combination of plastic and heavy cream.
My sad, suffering self downed bottle after bottle of that stuff. Yet, I remained “squishy” (so I thought) and it simply added the very odd problem of having embarrassingly-orange fingers.
My family members often still talk about my “Oompa Loompa phase” with laughter. I welcome that; because if I can laugh and talk openly about it, I can remain accountable and healthy.
I had a problem and it became excruciatingly apparent in the form of orange fingers. Then, I was forced to deal with it.
Laughter = hope
The good news is I did, and I can now get a chuckle out of my odd and very unproductive behavior. The minute you can start to laugh about something, there is at least a sliver of hope that you can truly face it and heal.
I share my butter-spray story because it seems we all do this. Those of us who are suffering from an eating disorder are searching (we’re desperate!) for some easy, magic cure to our problems.
“Atkins? Yes! The Atkins diet is going to do it for me”, we tell ourselves. Or, “That cleansing thing that Beyonce did…. That’s definitely going to work.”
We feel like we need some simple, quick answer because the real problem is undeniably complicated and hard to solve. It’s a thick, multi-layered knot that we can’t just unravel with a pepper-and-syrup detox drink.
We have unhooked all the wires in our brains that tell us how to respond to and consume food in a healthy way and plugged them all back into different, unhealthy places. There is no easy fix.
Solving our eating disorder is going to take time; we have to reprogram all of those terrible, unproductive reactions and approaches to food.
Commit – today, this minute
We are going to have to train ourselves to approach food as fuel, to allow necessary indulgences without immediate guilt binges. For some of us (myself for roughly ten years) that means the then-necessary eat to excess, so we can purge it all out. Every single calorie. Every gram of fat. Because it all has to come back out. Untying that knot is going to take some time.
But it is do-able. I am living proof. And I hope to help others by sharing my embarrassing and admittedly dumb approaches to food.
When I was suffering, food was anything but necessary. It was to be shunned. It was to be devilishly indulged, rejected, ejected, and my hidden secret constantly protected.
Harboring an eating disorder was, to be honest, simply exhausting. While it saddens me a bit now to realize all of the amazing things I could have been doing — fun, adventurous, memorable, healthy things — rather than fighting my food battle day in and day out, I have to forgive myself those mistakes and move on.
You, too, can make the decision to start rewiring your food reactions today. This minute.
You can commit to try. You can throw away the six bottles of butter spray in your fridge (or whatever other weird food things you are hoarding in your cabinets) and you can start on a new path. Yes you can, warrior!