Some of my oldest, closest friends told me that they know very little about my food anxieties and the extent of control they have on my everyday life. I don’t think it’s hard to talk about, the occasion just rarely comes up. We’re already bombarded with ED conversations because it’s the perfect modern-day malaise to glamorize, blame society for, and half-joke about. While I enjoy some of them, like this one, the more I think about it, the worse it gets. Better to focus on repeating healthier actions until they become habits. My anxieties can’t be diagnosed, and I’m not endangering my physical health (anymore) so I just pretend it doesn’t exist. Age has also mellowed me, smoothing out many anxieties and giving me permission to be softer, both to myself and to the touch.
If you asked, I’d be quick to tell you the facts of my EDNOS from a detached, clinical point of view.
I count calories, loosely, every day.
I won’t buy junk food unless I plan to leave it at someone else’s house.
Sometimes I can’t stop eating even though I feel full.
ThenI’ll feel anxious afterwards unless I run seven miles.
The first time I dieted was in fourth grade, deciding that to eat only rice porridge and mushrooms. I lasted three days.
I learned to diet by eating under 1000 calories a day in high school and lost 15 pounds.
I gained 25 pounds in college and tried to learn how to throw up from a new best friend.
Then there are the stories that make me struggle for breath, that I mean to blog about at some point. Hopefully I’ll do it sooner than later.
When I was taken to China at 8 and left isolated/ignored in at my grandparents’ house for a month, except during mealtimes.
How the first thing I wanted when I returned to Ohio after that trip, even more than seeing my dad, was Pizza Hut. Which is what I got.
All the candy my mom hid in the house, from Halloweens years past, and all the times I found and ate them without her knowing.
Tales of hunger I heard as a kid from my parents’ generation. Mom ate spoonfuls of sugar when she didn’t have lunch as a child. Dad ate moldy cornbread and pickled radish for weeks on end during his two years of cultural reform in the fields. A family friend boiled her leather belts until they were soft enough to bite through.
The plates of food my dad inhales/d every night after work, only to return to the kitchen an hour later for ice cream or nuts.
When I decided I’d had enough of being mistaken for a boy and wearing baggy clothing in high school. I listened to music and sewed instead of eating, throwing myself into a new obsession with fashion and the power to express myself creatively.
Always this anxiety of being hungry, or full. EDNOS doesn’t understand moderation. It’s either don’t buy groceries for as long as possible or try every kind of junk food. Wait until you’re too weak to move or eat everything behind their backs. It doesn’t matter who’s back–it adds a thrill. Eat a crazy combination of Cheetos dipped in frosting, or claw out lumps of peanut butter with your fingers, or brush your teeth right before you bake a tray of brownies for a party so you never get to know how they turned out, or pick out every broken cookie in the box and then destroy the rest and eat those too because you don’t know how to appreciate whole ones like normal people.
Don’t feel bad. (I don’t.) Do get on my ass about writing a post for each of those memories, though.