Why Recovering Eating Disorder Patients DO Need to Eat A LOT…
It’s the first day of the “roaring 20s,” and I can only awe in how different these ones are from those of the 1900s… yet, at the same time, how similar.
I look at the messages the media provides us about what we “should” look like, what we “should” believe, and how we “should” think, and I am not surprised by the confused and often unfulfilled state of many people in my own generation.
This, for me, for many years, looked like searching in all the wrong places for happiness and wholeness, leading to addictions and self-destructive habits that were the very lifeblood of eating disorders that tried to take my every moment.
It is now, now that more than half of my life has been tainted by these disorders in some way that God has granted me some understanding, finally, on what needed to be done and why:
I needed to eat a lot of food and gain weight. Essentially.
Mental and spiritual breakthrough had been made… but if I didn’t actually feed myself A LOT, my body was never going to gain the weight I was afraid to gain in order to restore my health and menstrual cycle and brain.
More than this, my mind was NEVER going to stop thinking about, even sometimes dreaming about, Googling, oggling over, talking about… food.
It is a common misconception that people with eating disorders hate food.
The reality is quite the contrary. In most eating disorder sufferers, food is obsessed over, constantly thought about, and researched.
In the depths of my disorder, I constantly baked and cooked high-fat, delicious dishes that I wouldn’t let my own tongue even nearly close to, but that I served with glee to those around me.
And one addiction that I kept decently well hidden was my addiction to “What I Eat in a Day” YouTube videos.
I’m writing this blog for maybe just the *one* reading this who is where I was with these videos, or like-content on the Internet.
Or cookbooks, magazines, meal plans, you name it.
For you, reader, who are in denial about the fact that your free time spent obsessing over photos of cookies and videos of syrupy pancakes is because you haven’t eaten sugar in years.
This was me. For too many years. I spent too much of the time God has called me to use the gifts He’s given me for His Kingdom purposes by taking in content that harmed me rather than recognizing that the reason I was taking it in was because I was STARVING.
And here’s thing. I *tried* to give it up. Made rules for myself that I couldn’t consume these types of media any more. But I always came back.
The coolest thing ever – the thing that is making me cry right now – is that today, as I write this, I, like probably most other humans, have NO DESIRE to watch these kind of videos any more. And it’s because…
It’s genuinely not interesting or intriguing whatsoever.
To anyone who doesn’t understand this addiction, this will not sound like any special sort of epiphany, but probably sounds quite obvious. But to the one who knows the struggle and who doesn’t believe that eating as much as you desire until you stop desiring *so much* – a time that DOES COME as long as you keep eating A LOT to repair the damage – your brain will stop thinking about food constantly.
In anorexia and other restrictive eating disorders, the disorder convinces the brain to avoid food at all costs. The body, however, reacts in every way possible to obtain food, as it is a very necessary component of survival, of course. The brain becomes obsessed… feeding other people delicious foods, watching other people eat delicious foods, and oggling over Insta-worthy photos of cakes and brownies and burgers and pizza… all while not having laid a tooth on these foods myself for YEARS.
I cringe now at the thought of the lonely time wasted, but I thank my God that I have seen the reality of this addiction, and sought the healing I REALLY needed. It wasn’t just forcing myself to stop seeking out this content… it was understanding that watching other people satisfy their hunger was a response to my own primal need for food. Sure, there were tons of spiritual and psychological reasons for this, too, but, first and foremost, I had to deal with my starved mind and body to realize that… food is just food. Watching other people eat is not exciting, nor any way I’m called to spend my time.
This sort of addiction is a little bit taboo, but I believe it needs to be brought to the light, especially given that the videos I consumed attract millions of viewers.
Where do you find yourself in this mix, Reader?
Are you addicted to a form of media, a substance, or a habit that may not fall in to the category of typically touted “addictions,” but you know you’re called to step away?
Rather than attacking yourself or beating yourself up, how can you take steps toward understanding what this addiction might be rooted in?
*For my journey to recovery story, head here.