First let me say, I am in no way looking a recovery horse in the mouth. I am so grateful to be recovered from binge eating disorder and am still amazed by what it is to live a life that’s not dictated by food. That said, I was thinking a couple of days ago that being normal about food isn’t always smiles and rainbows.
For one thing, you have to deal with choice. On a daily basis—actually multiple times a day. Because everything’s allowed, and nothing is “bad,” you actually have to make decisions about what you’re going to put in your mouth. When I was actively bingeing, I was out of control and never felt like I had a choice. I was being driven by the desperation and emotional need inside me and simply had to give it what it wanted, and as much as it wanted.
Then, farther along in my recovery when I started going to a support group that recommended having a “food plan” I had another force governing me. Rules that—although they were much more mentally healthy for me than the way I had lived before—were still not quite normal. (Did anyone see Huge last week? The camp director had this line where she said, “I don’t eat in motor vehicles,” and it reminded me of myself in those days.) Like, I had a rule that I didn’t eat free food at work. It made things easier, because I didn’t have to wonder, “Is this emotional eating if I have a cupcake at So-and-So’s birthday party? Is it real hunger that’s making me grab a handful of these chips?” I just didn’t ever eat any of it. I also avoided most trigger foods, so there were a lot of things I didn’t eat: Crackers, cookies, chocolate candy, donuts, fried stuff. The rules I had were very helpful to me at the time, but they were pretty black and white.
It was like the pendulum swung from one end which was absolute anarchy and primal need to the other, which was too much control.
Now, I really feel like I am a normal eater. I am not afraid of any food, nothing is off limits, I tune in to see what my body needs, then try to give it to myself. But other than that, I pretty much don’t have any rules. The freedom is sort of miraculous. But at the same time, I now have to deal with things—like normal body changes, weight fluctuations, and making decisions about nutrition—that I’ve never had to before.
I was talking with some coworkers the other day about how crazy our snacks table is in the office. How it’s really, truly, insane how many edibles are just lying around here, and how easy it is to just mindlessly grab a taste of this or handful of that. We were all kind of laughing about how everyone gains weight when they first start working here and I realized how…normal and mundane it all was. It struck me how candy dishes and mindless eating are something that 100 percent normal eaters deal with, and that I was truly one of them.
I will gladly take these kinds of “difficulties” over the ones I had before. But, just like you learn in recovery that being thin doesn’t make everything perfect, I’m realizing that being a normal eater doesn’t make everything—or me—perfect either. Oh, life lessons.
Have you learned any life lessons lately? About food, yourself, black and white thinking, perfectionism? Please share! xo…Sunny