Warning for discussion of my struggles with an eating disorder. Also want to clarify that these are just ways I have found useful when faced with issues, I am in no way an expert on ED treatment or how to overcome fear foods!
It’s crazy to actually be scared of something so beneficial. We need food to live, so why is it that certain foods are so daunting? The most obvious answer is that we think they’ll make us gain weight, they’ll make us feel out of control and disgusting. I spent so much time modifying foods to make them ”healthier” and cutting so many out in fear that I’d gain 1000 stone just from enjoying it. I categorised junk food as “bad” and didn’t think twice about ever letting it back into my diet. The fact that there are foods that we have to “overcome”, allow ourselves to taste without feeling guilt and repulsion afterwards is nothing less than devastating.
Recently I have been trying to eat my “fear foods”, breaking that routine and the restrictions I placed. It’s such a strange feeling, looking down at a sweet treat and suddenly getting anxiety bubbling in my throat, all the concerns racing through my mind just from a simple piece of food. I keep telling myself that this is something people eat everyday without a second thought, but still find that I am counting and figuring out a justification to have it. Like I actually need a reason to eat, because being hungry or finding it tasty isn’t enough of one according to my bad brain…
I was speaking to my friend about what we found difficult to eat, what anorexia had stuck a bright red “AVOID” label on. She listed hers and I realised hardly any of ours were the same. I could munch on one thing without fear whilst she would not touch it at any costs. That’s when we came to the conclusion that this shows how irrational anorexia is. Everybody has different foods they are scared to eat.
So when I’m struggling with something, an extra slice that I crave but fear, an additional topping to something already so sweet, I try to allow the rationality in my mind to think about the situation. Firstly, if I’m restricting this in order to feel a sense of control, is this really me in control, or the anorexia? I know I want that food, so by stopping myself, I know it’s the disordered part of me that’s taken hold of my life once again. Do I really want that to be the case?
Secondly, why do I want to recover? I think about feeling energised and active, wanting to not have the obsession of food and counting constantly on my mind. I recollect my aspirations and future plans that I want to feel well enough to achieve. I carry a list of “reasons to recover” around with me so will flick through that if necessary. If I eat this, it is a step closer to recovery. No matter how large or small that step may be, it is in the right direction and that’s all that matters.
Thirdly, a lot of my “fear foods” are brought around concerns of it not being healthy. My issues were first stemmed around my anxiety of being unhealthy (which ironically escalated to me actually becoming unwell… good job there abi) so a lot of my restrictions began there. This is why I find it helpful to google the health benefits of my selected “bad foods” to remind myself that categorising food in this way is not only irrational, but untrue. All of them have positives and negatives, they are all brought with ambiguity and every human has different dietary requirements meaning we can’t really look at food objectively. Like I wrote earlier, anorexia is irrational. So simply googling the health benefits of my fear foods was something I found comforting to do.
These thoughts and ways obviously aren’t a perfect cure when faced with a fear food, but I do find them useful. If I overcome it, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and I try to hold that over the guilt. It’s still difficult at times, of course fear foods have been feared for my own reasons, but I’m working on it. And I hope whoever you are, if you struggle with certain foods, you know that you’re capable of overcoming the fear. I promise you it’s irrational, you don’t deserve to feel unworthy of having it.