Reintroducing Foods

*for a given definition of "medicines"

See the cat?  Yesterday that was me.  I was sitting at my computer, totally minding my own business, when BAM, I felt it necessary to send the following email to two of Les Comtesses:
Can one have a hot flash at 28?  Or is it just an anxiety attack because I'm deliberately eating something extra?
Guess which one it turned out to be?
... Yep.  Anxiety attack.  So much fun!  Kind of like a cocaine OD and a hangover all at once!
From there the discussion devolved into how I've never seen St. Elmo's Fire.  (Well, it continued once I'd returned from histrionically lying on my bed and waiting to die.)

What caused this anxiety attack?  Well, if I had to say, the tipping point was turkey.  Some maple honey roast turkey.  About two ounces of it.  Yes, deli turkey is popularly associated with anorexics, as in, "the only thing they eat."  (Well, people usually assume it's that and celery.)  That's the funny thing about eating disordered people's rules: they usually make less than no sense to anyone but the rule holder.  Even fellow ED patients can hear a certain rule someone else has and think, "Is she crazy?  Doesn't she realize that makes no sense?"

Well, yes, we do realize it.  To a certain extent.  But usually the rule fails to make sense so spectacularly that it does a 180 and makes total and complete sense.  "I have winnowed my foods down to A, B and C.  I have maintained a low weight/continued to lose weight.  If I add food D, or even just swap out food A for food D, I will gain weight/cease to lose weight.  Therefore, foods A, B and C are my only safe foods."  (This absurd axiom holds true for many bulimics and binge eaters, outside of binges, as much as it does for anorexics.)  If you know the barest facts about eating disorders, you know that they're not about food, and this nearly universal food rule situation is a good illustration of that.  Foods A, B and C will almost never be the same foods for any two ED patients; but foods A, B and C will be just as important to any two ED patients at roughly analogous places in their illnesses.  It isn't about food; it's about the perception of control.

And so, reintroducing food - any food, no matter how nutritionally "healthy" or calorically light - is cause for panic.  And yesterday's panic attack was one for the books.  My fridge now boasts, alongside the turkey, Greek yogurt and cherries.  (When reintroducing foods, you don't start with chocolate mousse, you know?)  At some point I'll even get back to putting the turkey in a sandwich and some cereal in the yogurt.  But one panic attack at a time, you know?  I'm taking my mom to Paris for her birthday in September, and damn it, I'm going to enjoy the food and not have any stinking panic attacks over salad dressing.

Excuse me, I have to go eat breakfast and exhibit symptoms of early-onset menopause.


  1. I love reading your stuff because it's a different version of the way my mind feels sometimes, but it's still following pretty much the same channels. I ate a snack sized ice cream bar yesterday and couldn't even go to the gym afterward because I was so overwhelmed with how much of a loser I was. So, absolutely zero sense happening in that rationalization.

  2. And isn't it funny that you after the fact, or I if you were to tell me your feelings in the moment, can readily point out that the logical progression from "snack sized ice cream" to "loser" to "no gym" is totally nonsensical?

    There are tricks to breaking that "magical thinking," as it's sometimes called, but they're, well, tricky to enact when they can do the most good. Takes a lot of practice.


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