I have a confession to make: I used to be absolutely terrified of grocery stores and grocery shopping. I hated it. I would walk into the store and see so much food in one place and become anxious. It would also make me frustrated because as much food as there was, I could not eat any. I could not even buy myself a piece of fruit to munch on, a drink to sip, or a meal to prepare.
ED made me feel this way. Why go to a grocery store where there will be food that you don't want and can't have anyways? Look at all those people shopping! Sure, they may look happy during grocery shopping. But what about after they eat? They will GAIN WEIGHT! Do you want that? I don't think so. Avoid grocery stores - they are useless and give you the temptation of wanting to eat! You foolish girl! You are hungry? HA! Have some self-control!
You can imagine that this meant that I did not eat a wide variety of foods during ED. What I are was very limited because I was afraid and reluctant to try new things. Some people with ED even have a list of 'safe foods' that they are comfortable eating. Anything out of that list is a definite 'no'. Others, in complete contrast, may love grocery stores. Some patients with ED find that they become ore obsessed with food as a 'theme' in that they are somewhat obsessed with going to see food and making it (as well as reading recipes), but they don't actually eat any. The biological explanation for this might be that their brains are hungry and trying to motivate them to eat by exposing them to food (ex/ recipes, stores), but that ED is too strong and stops them from eating.
In my case, like many others, the opposite was true. I refused to look at recipes, shows, or stores that involved food. I did not want to go grocery shopping. Even after starting recovery, I was eating, but I still did not eat from a wide variety. It was not until a while ago that I realized that my body needed change. I was eating and that was good. But it would be challenging to try new foods and see what they were like. Part of this stems from the fact that ED actually blunts our sense of taste. Again, think about this: the brain shuts down the taste centre because it realizes that you aren't eating. Thus, in early recovery, I actually had no sense of taste. Everything tasted the same, and I did not enjoy anything at all. However, as time passed by, I realized that I started to get this taste sense back. I could make choices on what I enjoyed eating and what I did not. Of course, ED was far from pleased at the fact that I was starting to gain my taste appreciation back. So, what do you do when ED hates something? You do it again and again to tick him off!
My mom, one of the strongest people I know and my most loving supporter, helped me with this. She took me to grocery stores and helped me choose different foods that I wanted to taste - without any pressure. We went the other day and she told me to look around and put things in the cart. Then, we talked about what I should try, and we bought it. She did not force me to get anything. She just stood there and helped me gather items, and then she listened to my preferences and helped me make a decision. She did not even care how expensive any item was - she bought it for me. Over the next week, I will be trying these new items to see what I like and what I dislike. If I like it, then bonus - it is a keeper! If not, then I have successfully helped myself regain a sense of taste and appreciation for food. With the dedication I have made to recovery, I can now eat a variety of meals and enjoy them too! It must be strange for others without ED to read this and wonder how someone can develop an aversion to food, but you need to understand how important this milestone is. I went from being very ill and not having a sense of taste to being healthy and regaining my appreciation for different flavours and textures. This can take years to happen, especially since I have been suffering with ED for about 7 years. FINALLY! This milestone has given me hope and encouragement. With practice, time, patience, hope, support, love, and motivation, good things happen. ED is on his way out.