As I finished my lunch today, I sat craving the Kit-Kat that I had stashed in my desk. As a teacher, we are often given treats here 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 the people around me and society that “junk food” is poison, 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 ate 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!” and here 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 a 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 due to the fact that 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 so glad because it really gave me hard evidence on how ridiculous my eating disorder’s limitations on me 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 do not only make a point to challenge myself to eat those foods that I once deemed bad but now see as fuel (good tasting fuel, I might add!), but I also eat them in public!
So, just eat the Kit-Kat
Most non-disordered people may 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 that 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.