“My mom made me do Zumba with her the other night because she was feeling fat and didn’t want to work out alone.” I was startled by how casually my 10-year-old hip hop student told me about her Zumba night with her mother. “You eat […]
You look healthy.
It tops the list of things NOT to say to a recovering/recovered/suffering person with an eating disorder. While, to most, this is a compliment; a good thing; the mental illness that is an eating disorder is a pro at twisting positive things into negatives.
There was a time that this compliment “triggered” me quite severely. A person’s well-intentioned “You look healthy” would automatically translate in my mind to “You got fat,” “You gained weight,” “I guess she finally lost that amazing will power.”
It is often the result of a simply relieved, caring loved one or acquaintance who is truly so happy to see health back in a sufferer’s body. And today, when I ran into a former co-worker and she barely recognized me because of the “pep in my step and health of my hair,” I was joyfully teary eyed when she said, “I’m so happy to see you look healthy.”
We worked together at a trendy-health-food cafe. I didn’t see it at the time, of course, but the environment was a trigger for old habits and thought patterns. It sounds like this co-worker saw it in me, though.
“You seemed consumed in it,” she said, “When you were there. But I had to come over here to tell you that I remember you for your kindness. You were so genuinely kind to me and everyone like I’ve never known. That shone through whatever you were dealing with. I didn’t know if I should come over here and tell you that, but I thought you needed to hear it. And I’m so happy to see you looking so happy and healthy… I barely recognized you!”
Happy and healthy… healthy hair… pep in my step…
The enemy in my mind wanted to turn those words, for a split second, into
You lost control… you got fat… you “fell off track”…
But, as today I embarked on the beginning of a new set of trials with new doctors to hopefully restore my menstrual cycle and hormones; as I look back to the food I’ve eaten with friends and family over the past few years with little obsession and much joy (not perfectly, but miles ahead); as I look to JESUS, my example, my purpose, who says not to think or worry about what I put in my body for a single second…
I replied with sincere thanks. That it meant SO much that she could see the changes in me, even in my step. That she looked at me and saw health and happiness, and still, above all, kindness, meant the world.
I wish I had told her that that kindness was empowered by the Living God, but I pray for the opportunity to see this woman again.
For now, I thank her for the reminder that health and happiness are good good things from my Good Good Father. They empower me to do His will, and that is all I desire from this life.
Good Wednesday! It’s been a while since I’ve had even a moment to update you here, but today I am finally able to sit down and write a bit about something that has been on my heart to share for some time: Multiple Streams of […]
Here’s what they don’t tell you about eating disorders:
They’re usually pretty innocent at first.
An endeavour to “be healthier.”
When my restrictive illness first developed when I was fifteen, I never would have considered that I might still be terrified of white flour and sugar, baked, frosted goodness with unknown nutritional values when I was of age and stage to be getting married.
But in the depths of my sickness, the worst times of eating nothing but spinach and the occasional piece of broiled, skinless chicken breast, I would have told you there was no way I would ever touch a baked good again.
If you know me today, you know how far I’ve come since those days.
It’s the memories of shivering cold due to lack of nutrition, feeling faint and zombie-like that no longer cause me to crave numbness, but to feel so truly, desperately sad for that lost girl, and anyone else going through the same deception.
It’s the reminder of conversations in which I was barely engaged with the other party, and more engaged with the adding of meaningless numbers – caloric values – in my mind, constantly finding new justifications for not eating that has made me, finally, so pleased to have engaged, meaningful, undivided conversations.
And it’s the knowledge that my engagement to the love of my life is one, fleeting season that involves so many beautiful friends gathered around good food with endless reasons to be thankful that makes me more determined than ever to block out the diet culture, the “Aren’t you gonna diet for your wedding?” questions, and the little voices that sometimes want to convince me to thwart my recovery by eating the delicious, dairy-free cake my mom bought for my bridal shower with a coffee and a beautiful friend.
Doing so pertained to so much more purpose than simply for enjoying a piece of cake for a few minutes.
It’s also about the memory made. Because, truly…
My experience of recovery has been that time has been fundamental in healing the little wounds that have surfaced.
When I experienced transformational healing a few years ago, I thought I was in the clear in terms of mental eating disorder recovery. This has made it easy for me to feel guilty about ever struggling, and potentially more likely to ignore any mental triggers. But slowly, these things have crept in in small amounts… and I am so, inexpressibly happy, and indebted to my God, to say that I am very aware of them, and rarely give in to old behaviours. My God has given me an awareness and conviction of the Truth I want to live by, which does not involve tracking food eaten.
From a tangible standpoint, the longer I have lived this way, free from measuring, counting, and obsessing, the more NORMAL it has become. And, most interestingly and amazingly, the more physical hunger has actually made me WANT and NEED food than been a mental trigger for restriction. The more normalized my understanding of “just eating” has become. The more naturally and simply my hunger cues take over.
It has been a journey– and if there was one time of my life I was afraid triggers might take over, it was that of wedding planning. But, rather than giving into the messages of the world, this season of engagement has been more motivation than ever to completely redeem my relationship with food, passionate about none of the ugly, disordered stuff sneaking into my marriage or home. To heal my physical body fully is truly my desire.
So I had my Bridal Shower Cake, and I really did eat it, too. And it was absolutely stinkin’ delicious.
Thank-you, Lord Jesus, for your Word that I know to be True. Make me more like you, in all things. Amen.
In storybooks and seasons past, “Church” is seen as a service to attend for one boring hour on Sunday mornings in order to “keep right” with a distant God who might otherwise look sourly at us from His lofty place above. I think, when Christian […]
If you know me in real life, you know that I absolutely adore nut butters.
And if you’ve been in my kitchen in real life, you know that on a whole new level. I almost always have more than one type of nut or seed butter open and ready to spoon from or top with, from flavoured peanut butters to cashew, almond, and sunflower seed butter.
I also always buy nuts-only butters– ie., the only ingredient you’ll find in these jars is the nut itself. I make this decision both according to my taste buds, which are partial to the unsweetened, raw nuttiness of the one-ingredient varieties, and health reasons, as the other ingredients added to many popular nut butters not only deter their flavour in my opinion, but are usually pure junk.
So, the other day, when I realized that the almond butter I bought from my usual brand was a variety I don’t usually buy that contained palm oil and organic cane sugar in addition to almonds, I was annoyed at myself for having a bit of a freakout. I felt stupid for having made such a “careless mistake.”
Luckily, my thoughts rambled, I caught it before I’ve opened the jar. I’ll have to dig up the receipt and exchange it.
It didn’t take too long for me to stop dead in my thoughts, and question them.
Did I hate the taste of sugary almond butter? Absolutely not. It was a close second taste-wise to unsweetened almond butter. So, would a version of Cassie that had not been tainted by an eating disorder be thinking about taking a bus ride back to the grocery store to exchange sweetened almond butter with palm oil for unsweetened… or would that version of Cassie not have even noticed?
It is these kind of thoughts that I am grateful for in their opportunity to take captive and bring to Christ. If I HATED sugary almond butter, that may have been a reason to return it. But I think I can safely say that no seasoned nut-butter-lover would turn down a jar of ANY variety. So, what did I proceed to do? Grab the nearest nut-butter-dipping vehicle– on this particular day, a gala apple–, dunk a slice of it into the sugary almond butter, sprinkle-sprinkle some cinnamon and sea salt, and call it a snack well done.