When suffering from an eating disorder, even facts can form the twisted distortions of reality. Especially as there is an over-abundance of food and healthy eating myths plaguing the Internet and mass media. Some of them can be taken out of proportion and extenuated to facilitate and justify eating disordered behaviours. Others are entirely false but can be somehow twisted, manipulated and rationalised in order to form a new knowledge upon which to justify engaging in eating disordered behaviours.
My partner often led by healthy example. She was not a health conscious foodie, nor was she ever interested in “good food, bad food”. For her, “good food” tasted good and felt good whilst “bad food” would simply be anything she genuinely hated the taste of, peas for example, and rhubarb, and very creamy foods. She liked what she liked. She ate when she was hungry and stopped when she was full. She ate sweet treats, cake, ice cream and chocolate as she liked, but as she liked was in moderation. It was a bit of what she fancied when she fancied it, and enough of it to satiate her fancy without heavily overindulging. Sometimes she overindulged if something was so delectable that she just couldn’t bear to leave it, a Toby Carvery roast for example. She enjoys healthy foods, and these, for her are good foods as well. She also maintained her weight as best as she could – and has never been on a diet in her life.
The only “good and bad” list that exists in her world of food is really, “favourite foods” and “foods I hate”. Nothing is out-of-bounds – unless it contains peas – and starving herself in order to later indulge never hit her agenda. Denying herself to shed some weight, or being at all conscious of calories never crossed her mind. She barely even knew what a calorie was a few years ago – and has only been enlightened by yours truly, a knowledge of which she isn’t bothered by.
With a good knowledge of general healthy Vs unhealthy, her main priority in regards to food is to eat it, enjoy it, and leave it when she has had enough. She led by example. There were many times when we’d be out and she would be hungry. I would vow a promise to eat “later” but agreed to sit with her whilst she ate. A few times this meant sitting in restaurants whilst she ate her meal and I drank a coffee or picked at a starter salad. This was important because by doing so, we weren’t allowing my abnormality to infringe upon and deny her entirely of her normality. She wasn’t going to skip a meal because I didn’t feel like eating. She wasn’t going to restrict her food intake because my face told of my horror that the plate of nachos she was eating was even legal, nor would she let my misconstrued beliefs affect her knowledge of reality, health, and her enjoyment for food.
Her attitude and beliefs about food helped me when I was coming out of believing everything the eating disorder said because her example re-educated my understanding of food for purpose, control and enjoyment.
In contrast to believing that the sole purpose of food was to make us fat and feel disgusting, I now know the purpose of food is to fuel and nourish our bodies. Instead of believing that by controlling our food intake we are exhibiting exquisite control over our lives and feelings, I now understand that the use of food for control is not healthy and food should form a part of your life, not control your life. Alternatively to not understanding that any food besides cups of tea could be a source of genuine enjoyment, or that any enjoyment derived from food wasn’t a fabricated chemical manipulation by corporations’ to later make you feel like shit and fat, has changed, and now food is also a source of enjoyment, joy and exciting interest – and that I am not greedy for experiencing food in this way. A lot of my learning in this was by healthy example.