Saturday, 28 July 2012

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.


  1. I hate my medicine
    You are right .I believe people do not like medicine and always try to get any excuse so they will not take them.We know every medicine has side effcts and even advil has side effects and doctors say it can damage your stomcah,liver kidney and give you high blood pressure and heart attacks.Good news is those side effects are very very rare and only 1 or 2 in a million may have them but the need to take advil if you have headache is a good reason to ignore the rare likehiood of these scarry side effcst.Side effecst of advil is scarry to people who are pessimistic,panicky or negative.
    I believe food for you is same like advil but because you are fearful and panicky about side effcts and you see the worriest thing happens to you even the very very unlikely can happen to you.,and so you are not comfortable eating your medicine. I mean your (food)
    I think first you need to look at your medicine and see how very unlikley this side effcts and be hopeful that the worst case cenario does not happen to you
    I am sure if you believe in your medicine you will take it even if it is very bitter.
    People with cancer take chemo that cause them hair loss,weakness,vomiting etc but still take allof their chem and hoping for recovery
    Make sense

  2. I am Lana
    I am a recovered 34 years young woman.Without too much disclosure,I have been in inpatient program 5 times and I believe you. All you saying is absolutely right,however no one believes you,even professionals who treat ED may believe you but still they believe it is your choice to eat or not,recover or not.
    What helped me much is as you said I talking to myself and I used to yell at ED telling him to stop bugging me ,ruining my life and controlling my thoughts.Slowly I took the lead from ED,became aware of my own thoughts and feelings and I was finally able to differentiate between my own feelings and thoughts from those ED inserting in my head and scarring the hill out of me.
    Now I am not afraid of ED any more .I still have my own specialist that I see every 6 months.Now I eat like normal people and I love my body and my current weight and I have my life that I enjoy
    Trust your psychiatrist and your program and staff even if at times you may feel they are mean,harsh and pushy.
    Now I know who was my supporter and who was blocking any hope of my recovery at that time for many years..
    I will follow your blog and I will pass it on to those who struggle with their body image

  3. Marina - I have a deep respect for you and the effort you've made so far on your journey. Make us proud, and please don't ever think that it's too hard. Christ will hold your hand and overcome every obstacle. We sympathize with your struggle, we know it's very REAL as you said. I myself will pray for you, and I will ask the saints constantly to reinforce you in your battle.


    Your brother in Christ Jesus


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