Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

reassigning ice cream

I was on facebook today (of course), and EDIN posted an entry that caught my eye with the words: When you were young did Food keep you sane and alive? Well, then, thank Food, but re-assign it a new job . . . and find other ways to stay sane.  There was a link to a blog entry about a woman who realized the role eating had played in her youth and how to “re-assign that role.”

I understand the concept.  I realize that anorexia was a way I survived.  But I know other ways to survive now, ways that will, ultimately, not harm me and that will allow me to fully participate in life.  In recovering from any eating disorder or any disordered relationship with food, I think you do need to take a step back and look at things from a more objective point of view and not let food fill emotional needs.  Doing so can trigger relapses.

But one of the things I am grateful for in terms of my recovery, is the ability to let food fill an emotional need.  I was giving a talk a few weeks ago and said, in response to a question about whether or not I let myself eat what would be fear foods, “If I have a really crappy day when life sucks and want ice cream for dinner, I eat ice cream for dinner.  And I love every single bite.  If I did that every night, or if I binged on the ice cream to numb out the feelings, there would be a problem.  But when I get stressed, I crave two things: something soft and sweet (ice cream) or something salty.  I have learned that allowing myself to eat those things when I’m stressed is quite rewarding.”

How is it rewarding?  I can sit down with a bowl of ice cream (not a half-gallon) and enjoy the taste and texture.  There is something about the combination of flavor and texture and temperature that I like.  I also like salted sunflower seeds when I am stressed.  I have no idea why.  But I’m glad that I let myself have them.  I enjoy them.

Does eating ice cream for dinner solve my problem?  Absolutely not.  Does it numb out my feelings?  No.  Do I continue eating more ice cream (bingeing) or do I do this several nights a week?  No.  Does it give me something to enjoy in an otherwise stressful day?  Yes.  Does it give me time away, a mini-vacation?  Yes.  Could I do other things instead of eating ice cream?  Yes.  Do I do other things besides eating ice cream?  Yes.  Do I have to have ice cream? No.

I have an arsenal of coping skills at my disposal now.  My eating habits are balanced, and I know that if I do have a bowl of ice cream for dinner, I’m going to get hungry later and want something more substantial and will likely have “real” dinner, or my body will tell me it needs more the following day.  I’m at a place where I can rely on these hunger cues to guide my choices.  In the beginning of recovery, I couldn’t.  I followed a meal plan, and I followed it religiously at first.  This shift to giving myself freedom has been relatively recent in the timeline of illness and recovery.  Food has been re-assigned.  It is no longer scary, something to be eaten only for physical sustenance.

It’s a balance.  Some nights I have ice cream.  Some nights I take a hot bath.  Some nights I knit.  Some nights I do all three.  And I enjoy all three.


October 12, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, mindfulness, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

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    Comment by Kassandra | June 6, 2014 | Reply

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