The word crouched on the screen then leaped out at me from my medical records. I darned near dropped my phone! (Get with it. You have to log into a patient portal on-line now-a-days to access your medical notes.)
What-the-france are they talking about? Isn’t anorexia that mental malady where you’re as skinny as a rake but the image in the mirror is so ‘fluffy’ that you avoid eating because you think that you look like a big, fat heifer?
Well hello. I don’t think I’m fat! And I’m certainly not trying to be this skinny. I can see how poor-rakey (weak and frail) I look already. So why in the world would Dr. Krasna enter anorexia in my records???
First, research of course – you know me by now.
Discovery? Two categories of the disorder; anorexia nervosa – the emotional condition I already mentioned; medical anorexia – simply a lack of appetite (actually there is nothing simple about it) due to some underlying physiological condition – some mechanism in your body just doesn’t work right. Well that made me feel a tad better (but not much).
So, yes. My name is Julie and I am an anorexic . . . to which all AA (Anorexia Anonymous) members respond in unison, “hi Julie.”
Yeah! One more label for me!
“I wish I had your problem.” Hell no you don’t!!!! Wise up! Underweight people are are more likely to develop severe medical problems. Even more so than the severely overweight?
“Just eat more,” you say? If only it were that easy!
That leads to my first confession.
I am obsessed with thoughts of food. Ironic isn’t it? I wonder how often the average person thinks about food. I bet I quadruple that.
Food is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.
What shall I have for breakfast? Thick, crinkly slices of crispy bacon haunt my dreams.
What else can I eat before I go to sleep? Visions of golden crusted macaroni pie (in a Pyrex dish); a heaping bowl of ice-cream. If I had my way, it would be nothing and sometimes it is. Food always seem so much more appetizing in my head than in reality.
Which brings me to my second confession.
I have an unhealthy fear of food. Thankfully not cibophobia (fear of food itself), more like fear of the effects of eating. Experience has taught me – you eat, you pay. Bloating, discomfort, nausea usually follow eating. Sometimes painful acid-reflux and, yes, even malaise.
You’ll face the piper if you dare enjoy that chicken-roti .” I try to block the thoughts hiding in the shadows of my mind.
As f0r comfort food – Poppycock! Don’t even think of arguing that point with me. I can unequivocally say that eating rarely provides any comfort.
And that leads to confession number three.
Eating is a dreary, time-consuming exercise in futility. If only there was some sort of pill I could take to adequately replace the necessity of eating – you know’ something small, maybe cotton-candy scented and pretty to look at (a fantasy of mine for as long as I can remember). I mean eating just takes soooooo much time!
Think about it. Now you gotta stay with me here and ‘scuse the ‘rithmetic and reckoning but I have to justify this.
So let’s say you spend 15 to 20 minutes per meal just biting, chewing and swallowing food. At three meals per day that is 45 to 60 minutes. Then toss in a few snacks (doctors’ orders), an added 15 to 30 minutes. So, over the course of a week, you’re talking about 420 to 630 mins. And while we’re at it, let’s add an extra 10 minutes for the after-church Sunday brunch – or full course Sunday dinner; rounded off – 9 to 10 hours of eating every week!!!
You know what I could do with an extra 10 hours a week? Sadly, that’s not an option. No way around it. Eat, I must.
So, if I’m not too busy being sick, I muster up the grit to resist any conditioned urge to halt the passage of food to mouth, turn off emotions, bite, chew, swallow and hope for the best.
How in the blazes did I get to this point anyway? It wasn’t always like this . . . was it? It couldn’t have been. I have memories; gleeful, ebullient, happy-food memories.
. . . An ecstatic six-year old humming; dancing around the kitchen, brandishing a cheese-cutter in hand held high; thick, oily slices of New Zealand Sharp cheddar tasting so good on a freshly made salt-bread. She would have been waiting all Saturday morning for her Daddy to get back from Bridgetown Market with a bag of vegetables and the inevitable treats (sweet bread, cheese or ham cutters) folded into grease-stained brown paper bags.
. . . Clove-studded ham baking in the oven, casting out intoxicating smells awaken anticipation and excitement on Christmas morning.
. . . Rich fruit cake curling tentacles of aroma into every crevasse of the small wooden house, heralding early-morning mass at St. Matthias Church. And the long-legged ten-year-old decked in a spanking new Christmas dress, glistening patent leather shoes and freshly pressed hair – ready to begin another enchanting Christmas day.
But sometime, somewhere, somehow through the years, food became the enemy. I am only now understanding what started going wrong.
Ill-functioning organs and heavy-duty medications can really screw your relationship with food.
I ended up missing out on the big picture – forgetting there IS more to eating than the ingestion of food for fuel.
The majority of eating . . . is not biologically driven. Much eating is a direct result of thoughts/cognitions, hedonics and emotions: