Content: eating disorders/disordered eating
I estimate I am approximately 38% Oreos.
I once woke up in my kitchen half-way through a big glass of milk I was using to wash down a half dozen or so of those perfectly engineered carb:fat:salt:sugar ratio cookies — though I can’t be sure on the number, because of the sleeping thing.
Sure, I was asleep when this happened (i.e. thanks, Ambien), but that was totally fine because my body KNOWS how to eat a half dozen Oreos.
I don’t need to be awake for Oreos.
As far as I'm concerned, there are two ways to eat food.
1. Everything everywhere all the time.
2. Nothing never.
This always seemed like a perfectly reasonable approach to a life-sustaining practice. You’re either eating Zombie-style, half awake and with reckless abandon. Or you’re like “Oh am I hungry? No! I’m totally stuffed after my 8 almonds! They are SO FILLING when you chew them 40 times each.”
These are both inadvisable. You don’t have to believe me, but let’s just say I probably wouldn’t be here writing this if either of those methodologies worked out.
Eating disorder recovery is not like, “Hi, I’m Joni and I don’t know how to eat.“ and then you see a therapist, and she uses Cognitive Behavioral Twinkies to help you face your food fears, and you're CURED!
It’s more like: I have this all figured out now! It’s just me and I’m just eating food like a regular person because, la dee da, it’s just food and it has no power over me. OH WAIT. IT ACTUALLY DOES. I FORGOT. Back to the 8 almond diet.
I have done a lot of disordered shit around food that seemed totally normal at the time. On the other side of the ED recovery hill, I can peek over and see the wrecking yard of chaos I thought was normal but was actually really not at all even near normal.
So here are 9 of them.
1. Skipping meals.
We have somehow glamorized this practice with our “I am just SO busy” approach to literally everything we do. “Oh I am STARVING. I was just so busy. I didn’t have time to eat.”
How are you?
Oh I am just SO BUSY!
If you are so busy you skip eating? Disordered. You actually need food to live. All the time.
2. Counting every calorie.
Unless there is a compelling medical reason for a human being to do so (for example, you have diabetes and you need to limit carbs for the sake of you blood sugar level and your ability to stay conscious), no one should be counting every calorie.
No, but really.
This is basically the literal worst thing I ever did to myself, and I’m not being hyperbolic. I have committed to memory the caloric value of nearly every food and/or beverage.
Cherry tomato: 3. Oreo: 45 (16 calories from fat).
This knowledge made cherry tomatoes “good” and “Oreos” bad, and all other food morality-laced. I’ve spent, like, 10 years trying to unlearn this. Nope. It’s in there. Forever.
I can't remember even one thing from Calculus, but I can tell you the calories/fat of a piece of any kind of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. What the hell, brain?
Which brings me to...
3. Not eating certain foods because they are “bad.”
Food is not bad. Food is not good. Food is fuel. You put it in. Your body makes it into ATP, blah blah Physiology Science. You poop. The end.
4. Being ashamed of your food.
Dude. It’s just FOOD. There is no shame around food.
My bangs in 1987? Yes. Cookies? No.
5. Hiding to eat food/Hiding food.
Hide that photo of you in high-waist acid-wash jeans. Do not hide food.
6. Eating on a tiny plate, with a tiny fork.
This is the second most ridiculous advice I’ve ever heard.
The first was that if my newborn slept with me, she’d never sleep in her own bed. I wasted like a solid 5 days of my life with my numb arm stuck through the slats of a crib from Sears (the slats had more space then because not enough kids were strangled yet for crib manufacturers to care).
I don’t care what people say about eating on a small plate to trick your brain into thinking you’re full. My brain is not that easily fooled, OK? My brain is savvy and it KNOWS when it has had no bread. It doesn’t matter if the plate is a silver dollar, my brain is not going think I’m full until I’m actually full.
Also. My daughter is 21. She sleeps in her own bed just fine.
Suck it, h8ers.
7. Working out to eat.
Let’s say I eat a big delicious cookie that’s 500 calories — or 11.111 Oreos (it happens) — and then I'm like, "OK I'll run 5 miles to burn off those cookies!" Seem like a perfectly reasonable math equation? Hey! It’s not even algebra, you guys!
Pretty much any time I’m running 5 miles is disordered. There is no good reason for that unless it's the Apocalypse and the World-War-Z-style zombies are on your ass. (Why are the zombies in that movie so fast? Highly suspect.)
8. Spending the time you’re not eating being preoccupied with eating.
Sorry, past Joni. This one is disordered too. If you wake up and you’re thinking about dinner, and it’s not because you forgot to thaw out the pot roast, you have a problem.
We both know that you’re planning your calories for the entire day right up until 10 pm when you may or may not have enough “LEFT” (whatever the hell that means) to have some dry-ass popcorn.
9. Looking forward to dry-ass popcorn because you can’t be "bad" and eat MOTHER FRACKING OREO.
You should never be looking forward to dry-ass popcorn. Ever.