“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.

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