One thing I do remember about being Sick was how out of control I felt-all the time. Until that point in my life I’d never really cared about controlling things. In fact I’d always quite enjoyed the feeling of being out of control ( a less kind way of referring to this would be my decade of Alcoholism). But when I was suddenly unable to control any part of my life is seemed to matter very much. It’s a deeply frustrating thing having to rely on others for everything. It’s unsettling not to know when this situation will change or end. I found myself wanting to feel in control of something, anything at all. So I choose food.
I was never very hungry but I had to eat at some point. And so I chose to control with military precision everything that I consumed. I actually thought I was doing myself a lot of good at the time. Such a massive part of the market of Alternative Health is concentrated on tackling sickness through lifestyle change. I came across Raw Food and thought I’d found the Holy Grail…I’m not going to go into the In’s and Out’s of the Raw Food lifestyle. It does work for many people and it is not always an eating disorder. But for me it was and it took me years to release myself from it.
The more I read about “bad cooked food” the more convinced it was dangerous and I lived in fear of every mouthful making me even more ill than I already felt. Experience has now taught me that any Cure that insists that not following it will result in Mortal Danger is not one worth pursuing. But at the time I thought I was doing the best for myself.
Even though controlling my diet never got me well, I had spent so many years doing so that when I was eventually well enough to join society again it held me in a trap of fear for two more years. I can honestly say I’ve only been free of it for less than a year.
My real turning point was two-fold. I found a wonderful book by Steve Bratman, a former Orthorexic himself. Reading this was a massive relief, a huge eye-opener-and more than a little terrifying. I wanted so badly to be free from the constraints of this eating disorder-but it just seemed like one more hurdle to jump after everything else I’d tackled. Luckily reading this book coincided with a very painful break-up of a relationship-the aftermath of which left me with so much to clean up and sort out that I was finally unable to care what I ate. I’m not saying this was the most ideal scenario emotionally, but for me it was a blessing in disguise. I just did not care enough to protect myself from the “dangers” of “bad food” I just went into survival mode and did what I had to do. For me it was incredibly effective.
I’m not 100% there yet-if I find myself in a situation I can’t control then my first thought will always be to control my food intake. I don’t act on this impulse any more but as an emotional trigger it still exists. Perhaps it always will.
If you are at the point in your journey to Wellness where you feel you cannot control anything then I’m going to tell you what I wish someone had told me back then. Controlling food intake is just a symptom, it’s not a cure where I was concerned. The most effective thing I could have done in those circumstances was Choose My Thoughts. Many of us concentrate so much on putting good stuff into our mouths that we pay no attention to the bad stuff that comes out of it in terms of our thoughts and words. Thinking that works against us causes frustration. Thinking that works for us is just as nourishing and nurturing as any meal can be.
If you recognise yourself in this scenario then please know that help is out there. I always believed I’d get out of a wheelchair-but I never thought I’d feel freedom around food again, ever. And I do now, constantly. Please also know that it’s not your fault. It’s a perfect normal reaction to wanting to combat illness. And it’s even encouraged in some fields. Like anything, lifestyle adjustment can bring wonderful benefits-as long as it does not come from a place of fear. I don’t think fear is ever good for the health.
I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.