As a sophomore in college, I lived off campus in a 2-bedroom apartment with my roommate. We shared a kitchen, though, at the time, we did not share food. I was consuming very little food, exercising compulsively to burn off anything I did eat (and more), and was so obsessed with food that no other thought crossed my mind. I had been diagnosed with an eating disorder months prior, and I had finally agreed to start making changes toward a healthier lifestyle. The problem was, like most things, it was so much easier said than done.
One of my challenges that particular week was to add a dab of peanut butter to my banana for a snack. It seems so minute and simplistic, but even the thought of it tightened my entire core, paralyzing me. Without my roommate knowing this task assigned, she came into the kitchen where I happened to have been studying. She so quickly and easily grabbed a banana that was sitting on the counter. As she pinched the top to peel it back, she reached into the refrigerator (yes, I never understood why she refrigerated peanut butter), pulled out the peanut butter jar, and began lathering her banana with glops of it.
With distant, foggy, and light-headed eyes, I tried to recall what had brought me from being like her to what I had become. And, I envied her, wishing I was able to consume a healthy snack as easily as she did. But, I wasn’t. I wasn’t even close.
I did, at least, comply with the first step toward this goal. I had gone to the grocery store and purchased what my psychiatrist had recommended—an all-natural peanut butter. His hope was I’d buy into the “healthy fat” explanation, and may feel more inclined to dip into that kind. I did get it, but it remained sealed shut, and I had zero intention of ever opening it. But, when asked if I added peanut butter to my banana, I, just as quickly and easily as my roommate glopped it on hers, lied. I knew if I just said, “Yes,” then everyone would back off.
It took intensive therapy and time to overcome my fear of my “forbidden” foods. But, with the help and support of professionals, family, and friends, I eventually triumphed. And, was able to do it without feeling the need to add another workout in my day to burn it off.
Today, I so easily and quickly grabbed a knife and a banana, reached into my refrigerator (where we now store our Sunbutter), and enjoyed that healthy snack I once feared and cringed from the thought of eating. Though, peanut butter is no longer in our house because of my son’s food allergies, we have found other safe forms of it. It still remains a favorite food of mine. And, just reflecting on where I once was, and where I am today, I smile.