“I’m not hungry.” “Good!”

#eatingdisorders #mentalillness #bodyimage #weight #food

There was a point in my life–the point at which my body started “developing,” as they euphemistically put it–that food suddenly became Bad rather than Good for me at home.

If you have children or have been a child with attentive parents, you probably remember the squabbles over eating. “But I’m not hungry.” “Sweetie, you need to eat. How else are you going to grow?” “I don’t want any more.” “Just one more bite, and then you can have ice cream.”

I also had these conversations as a child, once.

Then it all changed seemingly overnight.

“I don’t want any more.” “Good!” “I can’t, I lost my appetite.” “Good!”

It must’ve taken a few years, but by the time I was in high school, the implications were clear: not eating is virtually always good. Any reason or excuse or motivation you can find within yourself to not eat, or eat less, is good.

“Wow, I was so engrossed in this book that I totally forgot about dinner.” “Good!”

I hate feeling hungry. Always have, still do. So it wasn’t that I wanted to “go hungry,” as it were. But lived for those things that made me forget about eating or to lose my appetite: distraction, sickness, tricks played by certain foods.

“I only had an apple and some almonds today!” “Good!”

Nowadays I don’t do that sort of restriction anymore. I try to eat at least two full meals a day, though sometimes that’s impossible because I’m busy and can’t cook and end up eating energy bars or pretzels instead. I eat bagels with cream cheese and chocolate and macaroni (sometimes with cheese) and ice cream and pizza and other Bad Things, usually without thinking about calories.

I also don’t think I’m fat or ugly; I don’t like everything about my body but overall I’m fine with it the way it is. I’m comfortable with the curves and folds that I have. Buying clothes does still cause frustration, anxiety, and even panic, but I recognize that that’s more because of the bullshit idea that humans can all discretely fit into categories like Extra Small, Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Extra Extra Large with neither overflow nor empty space.

But my actual attitudes about food haven’t really changed. When I’m sick or when I realize I’ve been too busy writing to remember to eat, I still reflexively think, “Good!” When I get hungry, I think, “Fuck, again?” Although I don’t normally think of it this way, I “practice” eating normally several times a day, and I enjoy eating–I love the taste and feel of food–but I can’t stop wishing I didn’t need it.

I’m so much better off than I could be, given how dangerous and tenacious eating disorders are. But it’s not just about the symptoms. It’s about the ways in which certain thought patterns–entire belief systems, really–take root in your brain, seemingly for good.


4 thoughts on ““I’m not hungry.” “Good!”

  1. I’m in the same boat you are. I don’t think we ever truly get over eating disorders, as our patterns and fetishes and unhealthy relationships with food don’t just disappear. And yes, it feels so rewarding when you can avoid eating for as long as possible, and avoid feelings of guilt after eating. I love your blog! Care to check out mine? Downwiththenorm.com


  2. I’m perpetually terrified that someday I won’t fit into that perfect mold of what society expects me to be (XS, no spillover, no extra space).

    I don’t remember exactly when I developed a love-hate relationship with food, but it was probably around the end of high-school/beginning of college, when people started to comment on my body more and more (some out of genuine concern, others out of condescension). I’m not fat, in a medical or literal sense. I never have been. But my brain started to tell me I was, years ago, and I started to consciously restrict my caloric intake and mentally abuse myself for not burning enough calories in a day. To complicate matters, even now, everyone seems to always be telling me to eat more or eat less. My family accuses me of “being anorexic” and “idolizing bags of bones”, but not because they’re actually concerned that I might have a debilitating eating disorder–it’s simply body and food policing. They have no idea what my body, health and mental state are actually like–I’ve hidden it very well. I’m actually healthy now, according to my last physical, but the comments never, ever stop; this is most apparent in that the first thing my mother comments on every single time she sees me is her perception of my weight gain/loss.

    I especially hate the way people assign moral value to food : Salads are “good”, chocolate is “bad”, don’t eat too much of this, but eat as much of that as you want… it never ends. I congratulate myself on days when I starve myself. On days when I manage to meet the minimum caloric goal outlined by my doctor, I feel disgusting.

    Thanks for this post. It makes me feel less alone.


    • Yeah, there are many reasons someone might come to the same conclusions. Eating is sort of annoying; it spends time and money, it must be planned for, it can cause fullness, which feels very unpleasant for some people. Unless you have a high tolerance for hunger, you’ll probably have to interrupt whatever you’re working on in order to eat. Honestly, even without my history, I’d probably find it annoying.


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