The Desire to Feel Normal Around Food
When I first became aware of my body, I did not feel good about it. I decided to work out to feel better about myself. At first, I wanted to be fit. So, I worked out, hard. Then I became obsessed with being skinny. So, I restricted myself. After a few years of being stuck in the diet-binge cycle, my eating disorder had made my life a living hell and I've had enough of it. I gave up my pursuit to be fit. I gave up on wishing that I was skinny. It simply stopped being about how I looked. I just wanted a normal relationship with food. I wanted to reverse the hyperawareness, I wanted to be “clueless” around food again… Ignorance is bliss. I wanted to look at food and see just food, not calories that need to be burnt off. I wanted to associate food with the word delicious, instead of guilty. I wanted to eat without having any second thoughts, without any calculations. I wanted to be ignorant and normal again. ‘Want’ is not strong enough to describe how I felt; I begged and prayed for it.
I googled all kinds of questions to fix my relationship with food. I obsessively went through many blogs and their long lists of ''how to improve your relationship with food''.
I carefully observed people’s relationships with their bodies and food. I envied the ones who had no difficulty choosing what to eat, who had no clue about the calories of the meal they were having. I wished every day I could be like them. When I asked them what their secret was, there was one suggestion that I heard multiple times: ‘Just eat normally and workout!’. But there was a problem: I had no clue what eating normally meant. I had forgotten my past self who ate normally. It felt like it was in another lifetime that I could eat normally. I didn’t understand what a normal-sized meal was, I had zero clue what normal meal times were, and I didn’t know what a normal relationship with food was. Not knowing how an average person eats made me feel like a stranger to my own body. I remember constantly asking myself ‘How can someone not know how to eat normally? Other people do it, why can’t I? There must be something wrong with me’ which pushed me further into the pit of negative beliefs I had about myself. I felt frustrated, angry, and hopeless that I did not have one thing that should have come to me so naturally. I was very disappointed in myself. It felt like my body was working against me.
Another piece of advice I have repeatedly encountered was to practice intuitive eating.
Well, if I knew how to eat intuitively, I would have done that already!
The word ‘intuitive’ implies that the act of eating comes instinctively, that we innately know what we should be eating, when we should be eating, and how much we should be eating. Intuitive eating necessitates a connection between our brain and body that is intact, which is often broken in those who are suffering from an eating disorder. Having an eating disorder cuts off the instinctive connection we have with our bodies. That is why eating disorders do not go away on their own. They are not “just a phase”. They cannot be fixed by 'just eating normally' and 'practicing intuitive eating'. They are mental illnesses that need to be taken seriously. They need to be treated. With the help of a therapist who is a good-fit for us and therapy style with the right approach, we can relearn what 'normal' is. We can rebuild a healthy relationship with food. We can reconnect with our bodies. If you are at the same point that I was -if you desperately want to feel normal around food- this is your sign to get help!