Ah, this topic is one I know plenty about: junk food. Sugary, chocolately, salty calories galore! My greatest weakness for a very long time, and an aspect of my diet that I have learned to analyze and embrace, in a way.
I have had three major rounds battling anorexia, each of them have been different in the way I approach eating and maintaining some semblance of a diet. This might be a hard topic for some to read about, but I hope to address it with tact and honesty today.
Growing up, I had a strange relationship with food, and my parents. I recently read the post yesterday about taking the lunch box challenge – that is, mentally opening a childhood lunchbox and scanning the contents to help with writer’s block. This is a great idea, except I’ve already had to do it before.
In my childhood lunchbox I might find a ham and cheese or PB&J sandwich, either warm from sitting in a cubby for hours or smushed under my ice pack. I probably had either a banana that would make the rest of my food taste like itself, or an apple that would, again, be crushing my sandwich. Poor thing could never catch a break.
But it is not just the food I had that is key, it is the way I remember it. With negative connotations, mainly. I was and still am a vastly finicky eater. You can ask my best friend, she knows I used to refuse to eat a food that touched any other dish on my plate.
My mother could never please me when it came to school and lunch. She didn’t really have the money to buy me a hot meal every day so I dealt with this in a variety of ways. One is I would simply charge the lunch line for school lunch when I got really desperate, but I found that very awkward.
Another option was to tell everyone I forgot my lunch and take sympathy food from generous classmates. In this way, I still cherish food that is “gifted” to me above all others.
The last thing I would do would be to get my first job in middle school helping out the woman who ran the snack cart, in exchange for one free snack after my “shift”. I was 11 and it was my first experience earning something for myself.
No matter what I did, I always went home with an aching in my gut. I never had the stomach for breakfast in the morning, so I came back starving and with blood sugar in the lowest regions of still functioning. My parents were never home till hours after me, and I was the oldest child, so I got to raid the fridge, freezer, and pantry upon arrival.
As most may know, low blood sugar from hunger is going to make you want to grab the junkiest, most calorie filled, and indulgent food that is being offered. After a certain point, going after these types of food just became instinct for me: my body knew I was starving it and was not happy.
Every day I would pig out on ice cream and cookies, chips or candy, literally anything I could get my hands on that would level my blood sugar and stop my hands from shaking.
Unfortunately, my parents knew none of this as I hid it from them extremely well. To them, I was an overindulgent, well, pig. I would get accused of stealing food from them, and as a result they began to lock up all the junk food for themselves. This isn’t something I hate them for – it is what it is. But after that, I learned to be ashamed of my eating habits. So I would binge in private. I never purged, but I withheld for hours, even days, at a time, then dove in when no one was going to judge me.
Half a gallon of moose tracks here, a whole bag of Hershey Kisses there. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life regretting my eating choices. For a long time, I thought it was better to eat nothing than eat unhealthy at all. Then I would turn around and obtain all the calories I needed in one sitting from as much sugar or fat I could find.
I am now 21 years old, and I still struggle with my eating problems. I follow the same patterns as I used to: if I can’t eat a perfect, healthy meal I just won’t, until I am desperate enough to crave to one of my cravings. But I am learning to alter my appetite using natural hormone therapy, which I actually used to do unwittingly in the past, by being on birth control. Believe it or not, upping the amount of testosterone in my body has been the best thing I ever did for my eating disorder.
Anorexia is a hell of a thing, but we all have our own disorders of the mind and body. Talking and writing about our experiences is crucial to getting through them. My heart goes out to anyone facing a dilemma of this kind. Someday, I would like to be an inspiration to young females with body issues to make up for some of the negative propaganda we have all been fed, pardon the pun. For what is the point of a journey, if not to share it with others? Thanks for reading.