April 4, 2020

Eat the damn Sandwich: Why we shouldn’t Control or Restrict during times of Crisis.

I’ll just say it: food/eating is a little weird right now.

Especially for those who have experience with an eating disorder, are actively struggling, in recovery, or somewhere in between.

As someone in recovery myself, I can feel it. The anxiety. The urges. The panicky feelings. The urge to restrict. To withhold. To control. And opposingly so, to binge, to self-soothe with food, with sweets, and snacks.

Food is our everyday reality.

For those who have experience with an eating disorder (ED), it is/was their everyday, waking, stressful reality. When and what will I eat today? How much? How little? How “healthy” or “unhealthy?”

It all becomes fear and mind-based. Also, gyms being closed is hard right now for a lot of people—those who use it as a healthy outlet, and those who maybe are not always so healthy in their use of it.

Only you will know.

I can only speak from my experience. I have, these last few months—maybe the year, even—been breaking from my rigid idea of what constitutes as exercise.

I do love to sweat. To breathe. To feel my heart strong and pumping.

And I also know I have a tendency to use it as a means of self-policing control. For those with an ED, or ED tendencies, or healing from them, food has not always been just food. And neither has exercise.

I say all this to let all those out there know how normal this is to feel, right now especially.

I ate lunch today, this sandwich that honestly had a lot of “fear” wrapped up in it, white, thick bread, meat of not-my-choosing, really none of it was my choice. My mom generously bought them for my family. A huge part of me wanted to say, “No. I will eat a salad of my choosing and control-making instead.”

Another part was saddened by this thought of how devastated my mom might feel. And still another debated only eating half the bread.

All within a span of five minutes, I said, “F*ck it.” I am eating this damn sandwich because it is what is here right now and it is necessary food for my body.

I rarely “restrict” in the ways I so grew accustomed to years ago now. I eat mostly what I want. But sometimes, “unplanned” food does still scare me. Foods I didn’t handpick myself. I know that is the ED talking.

I can see that. So that’s why I ate the damn sandwich. Even though I am afraid and want to resort to restrictive measures to control my body, with all these waves I am feeling, I will choose to listen to my wise mind, my healthier self.

I felt a lot. But, underneath it all, was sadness. Sadness over letting go of the control. Letting go of this “ideal” of myself as needing to shrink my weight or size again. Healing from an ED is a lot like grieving. Grieving the part of you that will never be that identity again, or that body, or size.

So, even though this just looks like a damn sandwich, for a lot of people with an ED or in recovery, it hasn’t been and maybe still isn’t.

I don’t choose to feel afraid of certain foods, or things outside my control, but I can shift and choose my action from a new vantage point.

Food isn’t always easy right now. Especially those in the ED community. My sisters, my brothers, you are so not alone in this. I too feel the fear. I too feel the urges to restrict and the urges to self soothe, the urges to force my body to move, too.

If you fed yourself today or ate something today that scared you, I am so f*cking proud of you. I am so f*cking proud of me.

My brain may try to gain control now. Try to tell me how much to move tomorrow, or what not to eat later. Though I hear that impulse, I am choosing to face the fear.

With each bite I took, the ED couldn’t speak back.

To all those healing, struggling, please know that there is no “right” way to eat. Not now, not ever. Be gentle with yourself and your choices. Be kind and forgiving and so compassionate to the part of you who is afraid and who wants to grip onto food, restrictive tendencies, or over-exercise to make sense of the chaos.

Eating disorders do come from internally or externally chaotic times, from intense feelings that feel unmanageable without coping behaviors such as these.

These take a long time and so much patience to unlearn. This is not easy right now. And maybe, some days it is easier.

Celebrate that. Celebrate being able to eat the damn sandwich despite the ED telling you not to. Celebrate your courage to eat ice cream and cookies for a week straight. Celebrate the ways in which fear can take a back seat to your wise mind.

It’s all a choice. And we can only choose to do what is best for us in each moment. Only you will know what is “healthy” and what is “unhealthy” from your own internal intention and compass.

Food is a deep, deep gift of nourishment to yourself. And also, love is too. Kind words from friends. Tears on your yoga mat.

It’s okay to feel afraid. It’s okay to feel however you are feeling. We are all in this together.



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