Food makes the world go around. Food is glorious, sensational, yummy, tasty, fantastic and just absolutely amazing. It’s a necessary part of the human condition. Without it we would die. But, of course, what isn’t necessary is the way we indulge in food. Not that I’m complaining. I love food. I love that I can indulge.
My love of food, I am very certain, is the reason that I put on weight throughout my teen years and why I have been incredibly unsuccessful in removing the weight now. It was my comfort. When I was feeling low, I could turn to a good tub of ice cream or a bar of chocolate and feel a little better. If someone I knew was feeling low, I could bring them food to make them better too. I love not just eating it, but loved cooking too. I loved the process of turning different ingredients into a dish that is devoured quickly because it tastes fantastic. I loved cooking for others and witnessing their murmurs of approval as they tucked in too. Not just cooking, but also baking. There’s just something so wonderful about making something from nothing, right?
It was so obvious how much that I loved food that it was commented on that I act about food how people act about sex. I loved it, I wanted it, it was an amazingly pleasurable activity.
You’ve noticed the past tenses by now, right?
I still love food, I do. But it’s nowhere near what it was. Something changed. About two to three years ago, I suddenly lost part of my love of food and I am not so sure that I will ever get it back. Which does make me more than a little sad some days.
So I’m sure you’re wondering what changed, right? It’s simple…
Three years ago I was officially diagnosed with GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and this has changed a LOT of things in my life but the thing that has changed the most is my relationship with food.
I no longer eat to indulge. I no longer eat to feel better. I no longer eat for pleasure.**
I now simply eat to survive. I eat because when I don’t, my stomach aches. Because if I don’t, I will die. And I hate it but I don’t know how to change it.
Now when I eat, I have so many worries and paranoid thoughts going through my head that I feel physically incapable of enjoying myself while I eat.
It started with chicken. Something simple that soon spiralled. I cut it out. Avoided it. Which is the worse thing you can do for anxieties but I didn’t know that at the time. But to me chicken related to food poisoning, a food poisoning that has a high chance of killing you. So every time I tried to eat it, I could not stop thinking about what would happen if this peice was the one that killed me.
But then it got worse. I couldn’t eat eggs either. And then just all meats became difficult because they all had the same issues surrounding them. It then spiralled to food that I ate with my hands because what if my hands weren’t clean and the germs on them got transferred onto my food? And then every piece of food became a problem to the point where food just became lost to me.
But it’s not just the fear of food poisoning. There is also a fear of allergies. I only have a few very rare allergies but whenever new food is given to me now to try, I really struggle. What if I’m allergic to it? What if this causes me to have a reaction that then kills me?
And then there’s my god awful digestive system to deal with too. There’s the fact that some foods cause me to bloat and feel awful, some foods make me feel constipated or cause me to have bad diarrhea. And I have only a little idea of what does what because once I think I know, I’ll cut it out, and then something else will affect it and going back to the first item does nothing. Meaning that eating causes me to always be on edge.
Of course all of this stems from the fact that once food has been ingested, I can’t control what happens. I literally leave it out of my control. WIth my other anxieties, I can control some of it. I can do little tasks to make myself feel at ease. I can wash my hands fifteen times if I feel I need to. I can jump in the shower and clean my entire body if I have to. I can just not get onto the train or get out of the small room. I can control the situation until I feel I have control over the outcome.
But I cannot control the outcome of what goes into my body. It just happens. It just is.
So basically, every time I have to eat, especially if it’s something new, I end up feeling a little like this:
Things I do now that I didn’t before:
- Wash my hands or use hand sanitizer right before eating.
- Take ages to choose food in a restaurant because although x sounds good, I know y will cause me to not have an anxiety attack.
- I no longer cook; because raw meat, unclean dishes, I just… can’t.
- I also no longer bake; Same reasons as above.
- Over-analyse everything.
- Worry that my odd eating habits get noticed and people think I'm weird
- Worry that people will choose restaurants where I feel unable to eat anything
- Worry that I can't make any changes to the food on the menu
- And feel I can only make two substitutions before I worry the chef will spit in my food
- Worry about the chef spitting in my food
- Feel unable to eat food where I have seen the person touch money and then touch my food
- Eat a buffet comfortably. Other people have used their hands to eat those things... when did they last wash their hands?
- Wish I could just not eat.
But the hardest part of it, is that I know everything in this post is irrational. I know that I should just get on with it and eat the food, but I just really, really struggle. And it’s really not the easiest thing to deal with ever.