By Allison Brooks
In case you didn’t know already, recovery is hard. For me it’s like climbing Mt. Everest hard. And as if I didn’t know this after trying to obtain a life of recovery for the past decade, I had two experiences today that just confirmed to me that starting a life of recovery is one of the most difficult things a person can go through, especially in today’s society. But boy is it worth it.
I am almost three months into recovery (for me that means being completely behavior free), which is the longest period of time I have gone in the past 16 years. But because I’m so early on in my journey, I am still on a meal plan based on nutrition exchanges because I have not yet mastered the art of intuitive eating. So basically I’m doing the exact opposite of what my eating disorder wants me to do. But I’ve also discovered it is the opposite of what society wants me to do. I had two experiences today that made me question my sobriety because it was requiring me to go against the grain of society. The fact that I can eat a large amount of food and maintain a healthy and stable weight is baffling to people. I was at my favorite breakfast spot this morning and ordered a hefty wrap that knocks out quite a few of my exchanges. Not only that, it’s good! But my breakfast was ruined when two separate people commented on how much I had eaten. Apparently other customers rarely finish the wrap and I ate every last bite. Heck, my waiter ever brought out a to go box without me even asking for it once I had finished half the wrap. As you might have guessed, this experience was very distressing to something with an eating disorder. I immediately felt ashamed of what and how much I had eaten. I felt gluttonous and fat. I was letting others’ comments ruin my personal victory. Because it was a victory. I have been struggling to meet my meal plan this week, often times breakfast being the hardest meal. But this morning I forced myself out of bed and to get breakfast. I should have been proud of myself but instead society’s warped view of normal and healthy eating took away a victory for me and gave fuel to my eating disorder. If I hadn’t randomly run into my therapist right after breakfast, I probably wouldn’t have eaten the rest of the day. So thank you Danielle!
The second experience took place when I was shopping for groceries at Publix. I don’t like to drink milk unless it’s in a latte, so my options for completing the dairy exchanges are sparse. I’ve been counting lattes and ice cream, but lattes are expensive and ice cream doesn’t travel well and is frankly a challenge to eat, so I figured I’d give yogurt a chance. But here’s the catch: it can’t be non fat yogurt. Ok, that’s no big deal, right? Wrong! Do you know how hard it is to find full fat or low fat yogurt in the grocery store?! And when you do find it, the flavors are so limited. Very disappointing. What’s wrong with a little fat, people? It’s good for you and your body needs it. Your body can’t absorb vitamin D with fat. And it can’t absorb calcium without vitamin D. So get in your fats! Why is society so afraid of fat or a few extra calories? And why is the grocery store catering to disordered eating? Now let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with eating non fat yogurt. It’s probably necessary for some people. But I just think the lack of regular yogurt is a sign of how diet obsessed our society has become. And this makes it hard to be in recovery because you are constantly being bombarded with disordered eating being promoted as healthy eating. So what can you do about it? Proudly grab your full fat yogurt, remember the facts your dietitian has given you and kick your eating disorder right in the face.
Why am I telling you all this? So the next time you’re confronted with similar situations you’ll hopefully be reminded that you are not alone. It is not your fault. You are not shameful. You are not a pig for eating. You are doing the right thing. Society is not. All you can do to combat this is to stay in recovery and to use your voice to fight the lack of awareness. We may be living in a land of non fat yogurts, but that doesn’t mean we have to let our eating disorders win. Fight on.
About the Author:
Allison Brooks is a 30 something legal assistant from Tallahassee, Florida. She has spent most of her life battling anorexia, major depressive disorder, and personality disorders and has been in and out of treatment centers the majority of her adult life. She is in the beginning stages of her journey of recovery and is proud to call herself a survivor. She is an aspiring eating disorder and mental health activist, hoping to spread awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. Through her writing, Allison hopes to inspire others to seek recovery so they, too, can see what a wonderful thing life is.