Working On Us Prompt: If Disordered Eating Isn’t About Food or Weight

Today, I am once again joining in with the Working On Us Prompt. I hope the link works, as it once again gave me an error 404 when I tried to visit it. There are really two question prompts for this week’s Working On Us. I may post a separate post about the second question. The first asks what if eating disorders aren’t about food or weight? What are they about?

As a person with disordered eating tendencies, I can totally empathize with this question. I mean, yes, I am obese, but that in itself doesn’t qualify you for help with disordered eating other than a monthly kick in the ass from a dietitian. Well, that just isn’t enough for me.

Then again, I was told by my psychiatrist that I do not have an eating disorder, because the amount of food I eat during a “binge” isn’t big enough. Well, I understand. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my relationship with food or weight.

Because that is really what disordered eating is all about: the relationship we have to food and our bodies. It isn’t about how much you eat, how much you weigh, or how often you exercise. It’s about the thoughts that go on in your mind.

For clarity’s sake: at the time that I was told I do not have an eating disorder, I was in the early stages of recovery from purging, which in itself does warrant an eating disorder not otherwise specified diagnosis. I was never fully bulimic, but I was coming close. That’s not my point though.

I struggle a lot with disordered thoughts about food and my weight. In fact, I think about food the majority of the time and those thoughts are not usually healthy.

Once, when I read a book about someone with an eating disorder, her psychiatrist suspected she was an alcoholic too. She administered a simple screening tool, which asked whether the girl had tried to cut back on alcohol, was getting annoyed or angry when people commented on her drinking, ever had alcohol first thing in the morning, and then there was another question. She answered “Yes” to three out of four questions. Well, I can answer yes to the three I remembered here when substituting alcohol with food. I occasionally overeat first thing in the morning, have very regularly and unsuccessfully tried to control my food intake, and I do get angry like all the freakin’ time when someone makes a comment about my food-related habits.

Yes, I knnow that to the outside observer, I appear like just an unmotivated, overindulgent fatass. What they don’t see are the inner battles I fight each and every day to deal with my disordered eating tendencies.

My Relationship with Food

Today, I’m paging through the eBook Journal Writing Prompts for Child Abuse Survivors. It is definitely worth it. One of the prompts, in the third chapter, which deals with shame, is about your relationship with food. I am going to write about that today.

I am fat. There I said it. I am no longer obese, fortunately, but I still need to lose over 20lbs to be at a healthy BMI. Besides, my body fat is concentrated primarily on my stomach, which means it’s all the more dangerous for my long-term physical health.

I have a long history of disordered eating. When I was around 14, I “wanted” to develop an eating disorder. No, I didn’t read pro-anorexia sites, though I probably would have had I had access to the Internet back then. I didn’t really want to have anorexia, but I wanted badly to overcome the painful relationship with food I had by this time, and my way of doing so was to develop an even more harmful attitude towards it.

The origin of this even more harmful attitude was probably shame. My parents would regularly yell at me for eating too much and I badly wanted to break this habit, but I didn’t knowhow.

I didn’t stop overeating, but I started obsessing over how it’d make me fat. I started keeping food logs and commenting on how much I’d eaten, but it didn’t help me actually stop overeating.

I remember at one time calculating my BMI, which was a little above 20 at the time. I thought that should soothe my mind and it did in a way. I wasn’t fat, after all. Looking back, I now realize said BMI calculator was geared towards adults and a BMI over 20 is in fact overweight for a teen.

I never developed a full-blown eating disorder, even though a part of me engaged in a lot of disordered eating patterns, including purging, up till fairly recently. In fact, this part of me – she’s called Agnes – was the one reasoning last Wednesday that diarrhea is a good thing because it helps me lose weight.

I’ve had a fairly normal relationship with food over the past year or so. At least in terms of behaviors. I no longer purge, rarely overeat and do exercise regularly. However, like I said above, my thought patterns are still pretty disordered.

Some Kind Words Meant the Best Part of My Day

Boy, am I feeling awful right now. I ate a whole bag of sugar-free candies (a small bag, but still) and now I’m having the worst bowel cramps in the history of this body. A part of me is still not convinced that I should never buy these candies again, as this part believes with their laxative effect, I’ll actually lose weight while indulging into my sweet tooth, so a double win. I have already banned myself from buying candy containing sugar, as that’d mean I’d eat a whole (usually much larger) bag too and I’d have the added drawback of it containing like 1500 calories. My goal is to be healthy though, not skinny and awful-feeling. That same part of me disagrees, but well.

To cheer myself up and to find inspiration to write a post for today, I looked at some question of the day posts on other blogs. On A Writer’s Life, last Monday, the author asked a question that could fulfill both these purposes. They asked about the best part of our day.

I had a pretty boring day today. I didn’t do much that was truly exciting. That is, I exercised on the elliptical for the first day in a while, but that’s while I was already suffering from the aforementioned bowel cramps. At day activities, I did a few things I enjoyed, but nothing that stood out majorly.

However, some kind words from my day activities staff did stand out. Yesterday, I had been taken home by taxi as usual. The drivers know the day activities in this area well as they regularly drive clients there. As such, they know that my group is for pretty severely intellectually disabled people. The driver who drove me home yesterday asked what I, being of at least average intelligence, do at that group. I did go into an explanation, which I later felt maybe I shouldn’t have. I mean, she’s just a driver, not one of my staff.

I also worried that my real staff would soon enoug find out that I’m too good for that group too. So today I asked one of the staff at my group. She said: “Because you can talk so well, people may get that impression, but we know better.” It didn’t sound like it was a blow to my self-esteem at all. She didn’t mean it to highlight my social and emotional difficulties, which are the reason I’m at this group. She just said that they’ve gotten to know me well and we’ve together decided that this is the right froup for me. Phew, was I relieved.