No, It’s Not “Just Food”

I have an inability to sleep in. No matter how hard I try, I always wake up before 8 or 9 AM, and can’t comfortably fall back asleep. So when I woke up yesterday and saw that the top of my phone screen read “11:15 AM,” I was relieved.

I wish I could say that it was for the right reasons.

I wish I could tell you that it was because this meant that I had gotten the rest that my body probably needs. That it was a testament to a day with minimal responsibilities.

I was relieved because this meant that I had missed breakfast.

About 20 minutes after waking up, I found out that my little brother wasn’t feeling well, so my dad sent me to CVS to pick up some medicine. I quickly ate something because I knew that I was leaving for Kentucky soon and didn’t want to be hungry and uncomfortable while I was there.

On the drive to the pharmacy, I began to cry. I was panicking because I didn’t know the exact nutritional info of what I had just eaten, and I was angry at myself overall for “caving” and eating anything at all. I should have been focused on my brother and his health, but all I could think about was the calories I had taken in for no reason- I hadn’t even been THAT hungry.

It’s not “just food.” It drives my every decision. For example, I’m an extrovert, meaning I get my energy from being around other people. So taking time to be by myself and recharge doesn’t really work. But on the other hand, I have trouble hanging out with friends because I worry about how much space I’m taking up and how fat I must look in my clothes. It’s difficult for me to go out to eat with others because I don’t want them to know that I eat…even though I obviously must.

We were headed to Kentucky to show support for a mosque that had recently been vandalized. I was heartbroken over the fact that someone felt it was a good use of their time to shoot at the mosque with paintball guns, leaving a disgusting mess behind. Yesterday’s event was incredible, however. Hundreds of members of the community, both Muslim and non-Muslim, showed up to draw messages of hope and love with chalk on the ground around the mosque (I tried my hardest not to worry about how huge I must have looked as I knelt down to draw).

Afterwards, my friends and I headed to Mellow Mushroom for dinner. I was trying to stay positive, as the food there is quite good, but when I opened the menu, I saw my worst dining nightmare staring back at me. The menu listed calorie contents of each food item.

I tried to pretend as though I hadn’t seen it, to convince myself that 320×4 didn’t equal 1280 and that my meal couldn’t actually boast that number of calories.

It’s not “just food.” When I’m really anxious, it tastes like poison. Or worse, it tastes like nothing. Food often loses its taste for me, and I know that I’m not alone in that. I eat because I know that I should, but the moment I’m finished, I begin to regret my lack of self control and the heaviness I feel in my stomach. At that point, good taste and nutrition no longer seem worth it.

When I got home, I felt like such a failure. I knew that I was going to have to go out to dinner that night, but I didn’t intend to finish my meal. I felt disgusting and full and figured that there was no point in continuing to try to take care of myself. I proceeded to overeat throughout the night. I wouldn’t call it a binge, but I was awfully close.

It’s not “just food.” It uses up so many of my cognitive resources that I’m surprised I have any left to put into work and time with family. I want to be able to take the advice that people offer me and “not think about it” when I eat, prioritize other things in my life, and try to be more positive about eating with friends and family.

But the thing is, it’s not “just food.”

And I can’t “just eat it.”

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