Food is Medicine

I cannot even begin to say how often I have heard this phrase in my week at treatment. The doctors and nurses constantly tell me to remember that even when I’m full, I still have to keep eating. To treat food as my medicine that I must take in order to get better.

But, I wonder if they’ve ever thought about what they are telling me to do. They are basically trying to get me to think of food like a pill that helps cure an illness. Which, in some ways, I suppose is true. I’m underweight and my body is probably a lot weaker than it should be. So, it makes sense that eating food would make me stronger. It’s like when you have a headache – you take an Advil, expecting that it will cure the terrible pain.

What makes this difficult for me is the fact that I’m scared of eating. So, I’m terrified of the ‘medicine’ that I am supposed to take. This is what makes it different than your typical medicine – no one is scared that taking an Advil is going to do something so terrible to them. What makes it worse is that food is present everywhere in our society and lives. So, how am I supposed to treat something as normal as food to be like medicine? It feels so weird. After all, you can choose not to take that Advil for your headache. Sure, you might take longer to recover, but it’s still possible. I, however, cannot choose to simply not eat because I don’t want my medicine. The truth of the matter is that I have no choice – we all have to eat to live.

So, I guess it’s easy to see why viewing food as medicine is so hard. If you don’t have ED, you might be reading this and thinking, ‘why not? If I were told to eat a lot, I’d LOVE it!’. Well, ED does lots of things to my brain to convince me that I DO NOT enjoy eating. That I cannot possibly gain weight because then I’ll look too big, clothes won’t fit, people will tease me, etc. Sometimes I wish there was some magic pill that I could take to make all these thoughts and feelings disappear. But, for now, the phrase ‘food is medicine’ is all I have.

As much as I hate this sentence, it really is what pushes me a lot of the times to finish my meals. I’m always sitting at the table, inwardly crying because I’m full and frightened of the weight gain that will occur. So, here is where the skill of self-talk comes in. I have to try my best to ignore ED and focus on what I’m trying to achieve. I’m eating right now because I need to get better. I may hate it (and I do!), but right now, this is what I need. ED sure hates this. And when I get weighed on Monday, he is going to be super angry to see that I have gained weight. But, I’m putting my faith in the program and hoping that with time, these thoughts and feelings will go away. That ED will become a thing of my past and never in my future.

And who knows? Maybe someday, I won’t have to treat food as medicine. Maybe I’ll actually enjoy it.

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