Twelve years ago, when I began my path down the road of dieting and exercise, eventually leading to my eating disorder, my relationship with food had become unhealthy. I began categorizing food into two groups; foods that I would allow myself to eat and foods that I would never allow myself to eat. I wish I could tell you I went to school and was educated to be a dietician. Or, that I was qualified to begin eliminating food groups out of my diet for a healthy purpose. Or, that I really understood why I was even deeming certain foods as “bad.” Nevertheless, I did.
With the goal of maintaining a diet that consisted of ONLY fat free foods, I began eliminating not only the majority of food, but my all-time favorites. One, in particular, was pizza. Raised in Detroit, I grew up on Buddy’s Pizza and Pizza Papalis; two of my absolute treasured treats. I loved nothing more than visiting Chicago, and relishing in Chicago’s most popular, Deep Dish Pizza, at your typical touristy restaurant, Gino’s East. But, I declared that pizza was bad, evil, scary, and most importantly, would make me fat. So, I cut it right out.
Who doesn’t salivate when they smell a fresh pizza box opened? Or walk into an Italian restaurant and smell the melted cheese, and see the pizzas being pulled out of the brick oven? Initially, it took a lot of willpower. Eventually, once I had deprived myself of it for so long, I became numb to the idea, smell, or even desire to consume pizza.
Until, I began recovery. And pizza was the first food that would be reintroduced to my diet…just a bite. I was reacquainted with the taste, satisfaction, and love for pizza. Not long after the first bite in recovery, my eating disorder took a major turn… to the opposite extreme. I binged. I gained a lot of weight. I couldn’t stop.
The most important thing I learned after recovering from an eating disorder was to never eliminate a food completely from my diet. That, at some point, I would crave it so badly, and, and as a result, eat it in excess, or binge. Binging was the second disorder I developed while undergoing treatment and intensive psychotherapy for anorexia.
During recovery, I was challenged to complete small tasks, which seemed enormous at the time. Each task involved my once highly regarded tastes. For example, I was encouraged to take that bite of pizza. One bite only. And I had a week to accomplish this obstacle. Seemingly easy, it’s been, to date, one of the most challenging tasks I’ve undergone.
Knowing I will touch on this aspect of recovery in later posts, I wanted to illustrate the trauma behind eliminating foods, reintroducing them, and then craving them to the point of binging.
Understandably so, my body was so deprived of food altogether. But, to give my taste buds the opportunity to try foods I had once lived for became disastrous.
Seems ironic that I went from controlling every morsel of food that went in my mouth to, then, being unable to stop the amount of food that went in my mouth. But, again, it’s all part of the process, personality, and disorder.
My 2-year-old son, Austin, who I wrote a blog on in May, was diagnosed with severe food allergies; wheat, egg, dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts. He survived a traumatic, anaphylactic reaction after consuming a morsel of peanut butter. You have to understand, nuts, particularly peanut butter, were a staple in my diet. I was eating them everyday. On sandwiches. In M&M’s. On bananas. You get it. But, my husband and I knew we needed to quickly become a peanut-free home; a safe haven for Austin. But, I delayed it. And I delayed it.
My husband kept giving me a time frame; that all peanut products needed to be thrown or given away by a certain date. Mind you, I watched my son vomit, break out in hives, and stop breathing. He could literally die from ingesting any type of nut. I witnessed an EpiPen save his life. How could that not be enough to say, “Yes, get this poison out of the house?”
But, up until this point, I haven’t been able to part with it.
My husband wouldn’t get it. No one would. Of course, I want Austin safe, and to never endure such trauma again. But, at the same time, I haven’t eliminated a food from my diet since I was anorexic. And, the result of doing so ended up in a binging issue with an excess of weight gain. That memory has created worry, fear, and hesitation.
People are FAR more important than food. Austin, I love you. Goodbye peanut butter. You will no longer be a part of my life or my family’s life… at least not for now.