TW: eating disorders
Eating disorders are no joke. I mean, I like a funny quip as much as the next person, but when it comes to ED, I find that I still get an uneasy feeling whenever someone even mentions food or eating or body image, regardless of their intent. It took me a long time to get over the performative aspects of my ED — i.e. the unhealthy practices themselves — but the shift in mindset and the ability to actually enjoy food again have yet to fully emerge in me.
For a bit of context: beginning from when I was about 15 years old, I was diagnosed with a variety of eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Sating Disorder). It was a tough period of several years during which my relationship with food was completely decimated and devastated, and during which my experiences surrounding food were completely tainted with this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.
But good news: I’ve gotten better, both in terms of my actions in relation to and my views regarding food. During my period of recovery (which, for me, never really ended), I discovered a few tips and tricks that helped me better my relationship with food.
1. Eat with someone else
It is a good distraction from potentially harmful thoughts surrounding the food in front of you
Practice viewing the act of eating as a communal activity
Easier to enjoy food if someone else is enjoying it with you
2. Eat by yourself
Take as much time as you need to get comfortable
Chew slowly and really pay attention to the taste and texture of the food - see it as an experience, rather than an act
Be mindful about what and how you eat; do everything intentionally (take each bite with purpose, etc)
3. Practice feeling sexy regardless of your weight
For me, a lot of my eating disorder issues revolved around the need to be seen as attractive to the opposite sex as a way of proving my worth
Practice coming to terms with your weight no matter what it is, particularly in regards to your sexuality
In other words, try to feel sexy and love your body regardless of your current weight
This is of course easier said than done, but if you’re lucky enough to have a significant other help you see your own hotness, that’s always a plus
However, a partner is definitely not required; you can practice self-love and sexual expression (I love doing this through my clothing choices in particular!) all by yourself!
4. Make an event out of it
Talking about clothing choices, try dressing and dolling yourself up and then going out to eat
Make it a special occasion, i.e. something to look forward to
For dressing up, wear something that makes you feel confident — my go-to is a skater skirt, fishnet stockings, and a smear of bright, red lipstick. I find it really gives me a confidence boost!
I think young women are often shamed out of their clothing and makeup choices due to societal pressure to present themselves as delicate, feminine flowers, but fight against this and remember to wear whatever the hell you want!
5. Experiment with cooking and baking
Start seeing food production as a hobby and a skill rather than a loathe activity
Experiment with new recipes and try to have fun with them!
Start to associate food with pleasure, skill, and community (if you share your finished products with your friends!
These suggestions greatly helped in shifting my perception of food towards something to be enjoyed rather than feared, and really improved my perception of and ability to enjoy the act of eating once more. I hope these are a help to you, too!
Edited by Hanna Pham, Food and Drink editor