Making New Memories with Food

Making Brazilian coconut beans

Making Brazilian coconut beans

Certain foods terrify me. When I eat them, my eating disorder hisses in my ear that everyone is watching me. They cringe at my lack of manners, chuckle at my body’s shape, and judge my choice of eating. Although this critical voice has dimmed a bit as I have eaten more at school, each day continues to be a struggle.

As humans, we associate objects with feelings, opinions, and other things. This is a helpful way to know what we like, dislike, and want to remember. For example, someone gave my mother an orchid after Mario was born in hopes that she would affiliate that sweet smell and flower with her newborn son. Other associations  are more universal such as a heart symbolizing love.

Food often gains extra meaning in our lives. Desert is for special occasions, chicken noodle soup brings better health, or watermelon reminds us of sunny summer days.  Both positive and negative messages become attached to food through our lives. Once again, this is simply a normal part of life

However, an eating disorder orders that many foods are bad and not acceptable to eating. Thus, many people who struggle with this mental illness divide food into “safe” and “unsafe” categories with some that fall between the two.

Pizza is one of the “unsafe” foods for me. When I look at it, memories of binging, shoveling food into my mouth uncontrollably, flood into my mind. Never mind the fact that I have not done so for years and never ate as much as ED tries to make me believe. This delicious food symbolizes gluttony, being unlovable, and never fitting in to me.

Even when I ate this food with others, I usually felt alone. Everyone seemed to have so much fun while I was just the fat loser in the corner, longing to be acceptable but feeling worthless. No one probably knew my agony. Instead of speaking about my feelings and fears, I stuffed myself with food in an attempt to fill the gaping hole of isolation. It only grew deeper with each bite.

Last night, the cast and crew got pizza during strike. All day, I waited nervously wondering what to do. Finally, my mother suggested that I eat normally and pay no attention to the dreaded food. Easier said than done, but somehow I managed to get through the day. To keep away from the danger of eating too much, I packed a snack. That way I would eat with others (a victory) but a safe food.

However, a friend had a different idea. When he brought me a small piece of pizza, my mind screamed with panic. However, I nibbled on a piece of pizza for the first time in at least a year. Just like that.

There were several things that I noted with this experience. First of all, it was simple to do in the moment but difficult to deal with later. My stomach feels huge today, and I feel disgusting in my own skin. Secondly, no one noticed that I ate. If I had not eaten, people probably would still been oblivious. Whether it is comforting or depressing, others do not pay as much attention to you as you fear or hope.

Finally, I realized that you can make new memories with food. Instead of seeing pizza as lonely and greedy, I decided to look at it as symbolizing friendship and good times. Changing this association will take lots of work. It does not switch overnight. However, yesterday was the beginning of viewing pizza in a positive light.

What do you need to make new memories with? Is it food or something else? There are so many other things that I need to associate differently. However, this is one place to start for now.


2 thoughts on “Making New Memories with Food

  1. Mark kent says:

    you look very thin -ish anna, you must be making your self sick

    2 to 3 times a day.trouble is anna after being sick you do feel better

    until the next time .then the next time.for what like been bullied

    your family will get very very worried

    mark________________________________ > Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2014 03:37:14 +0000 > To: >

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