“The people who give you their food give you their heart.” – Cesar Chavez
After my article from yesterday about what not to say to people with anorexia, someone requested that I write on helpful remarks to make to someone who struggles with anorexia. Right away, I loved that idea. So often, we are told what not to do. That is helpful for knowing what not to make mistakes about but leaves us in the dark regarding how to act instead.
Hopefully, this list will be beneficial to those who support people with anorexia nervousa. These are some of the most encouraging comments that I have received as well as things that I wish people would say to me. Also, I would love to hear encouraging stories about kind comments you have heard from others. Affirming that positive is something that we should not forget to do.
Growing up, us girls looked forward to when my mom was gone overnight. Of course, her hugs and helpful words were missed. However, dad always let us eat dessert for breakfast. In fact, we often chanted, “Dad is great! He serves us chocolate cake.”
Little did I know that he taught us this chant directly from Bill Cosby, his favorite comedian. In fact, I found a video of this very joke.
Well, I finally did it. Tonight was the first time that I ate at the restaurant where I work. Not only that, the dish was one of the foods that scares me the most: pasta. Afterward, my stomach felt full. The further that I go in recovery, the more feeling food in my stomach bothers me. Then I arrived back on campus and was given a ice cream shake by a friend. Once again, the food tasted wonderful but left me feeling so fat and full.
This left me wondering about my fear of being full. People always complain about being stuffed at Thanksgiving. I lament my stomach bulging out even if it is only in my head. But being full is not the same as over-eating. Instead, it says that you are satisfied and that you have enough of what you need. Being full is a good thing. There are many impoverished people who would love the feeling of food.
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.
“Here, try some of this cookie. It is really good.” Before I could respond, a classmate deposited a small chunk of her treat into my hand. Normally, I would have smiled awkwardly and found an excuse. However, no words came to my mind at this sudden gesture so I popped the treat into my mouth. The rest of Tuesday, that forbidden bite haunted me. However, the sweet taste of peanut butter and oats remained dancing on my tongue.
Yesterday, another friend convinced me to have some London Fog at our school cafe – Earl Grey tea with steamed milk. Part of me screamed no, but after sipping a bit of his, I caved. Funnily enough, my thoughts taunted more quietly than I expected. Slowly, I am beginning to eat more normally. That both encourages and terrifies me.
“I brought snacks today!” Most students cheer or at least perk up in their seats when the professor announces this. However, sweat begins to drip down my face as I struggle to breathe. Suddenly tempting foods are waved right under my nose. Cookies, candy, pizza, chips – scents waft up to my nose and into my thoughts.
Part of me screams no while another watches enviously as students unthinkingly snatch a treat to chomp on. Is it only me who fears this lifeless clump of ingredients baked miles away? Everyone else simply seems eager for free snack.
This situation happened again yesterday morning. My marketing professor, chipper and wide awake, greeted our early class with fun activities. Then, he pulled out huge, glorious muffins of all types. Starting with me, the baked goods were passed around the room.
One of my biggest fears is eating in public. People often scoff at this anxiety, but it continues to haunt me. What will others think about my weight? Will they judge my food intake? How are they talking about me and my meal to others?
When I voice these fears, friends attempt to calm them with reassurances. “No one judges you,” they claim while I see a girl eying another’s dress. “But you are so skinny!” They lament but quickly grip about their own weight. The contradictions confuse me even more. Why is it that food, weight, and appearance hold so much power over us?
Normally, my posts veer away from mentioning any exact type of food or symptom. Hoping not to trigger anyone, I am careful about what I write. Being honest without giving others ideas is difficult. However, my posts will hopefully never cause anyone to treat themselves worse or give them bad ideas.
As you can see by the title of my post, today will be a bit different. Before you read any further, please understand that there is nothing wrong with Christmas cookies. In the right amount, this food is the same as any other. It nourishes, strengthens, and fuels us. Plus, this dessert helps people to celebrate the holidays with family and friends.
If anything came out of the speech tournament yesterday, it was that I learned what not to do. Next time, I will practice more and certainly not enter with a speech that is 12 minutes when you need to be under 10. Also my speech on EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified) fit more into the informative category than the persuasive one. My family and classmates tried to help me make the speech better, but I did not want to change what the speech team professor liked. Now I realize that I should have listened to others as well as him.
Yet, despite going over on time and not doing very well, I am feeling ok about the tournament as a whole. This was my first one, and I did not use a script. Plus, just talking about such a difficult subject in front of strangers was a huge challenge. Overall, I did fairly well if not perfect.