What It Feels Like to Overcome Food Fears

I don’t usually pay much attention to Facebook’s notifications, but this time, the “memories” post caught my eye: an otherwise unremarkable picture of a burger, with a reminder from Facebook that this image was posted nearly 10 years ago.

Again, there’s nothing remarkable about this burger. In fact, back before coronavirus took over, I’d go out and eat a bar burger with my husband probably every week. But the “me” from ten years ago? No way, JosĂ©.

I actually remember this day and this dinner pretty clearly. I was visiting Milwaukee with my sister and her now husband, and before heading to the Brewer’s game, we grabbed a burger for dinner. I was *early* in my eating disorder recovery, still very much struggling with disordered thoughts/behaviors, and eating things like burgers (especially from a restaurant) was not something I was comfortable with. But I was truly in a process of recovery at this point, truly desiring to live normally and freely, and finally tasting life for the first time. I wanted to live a life where I could go to a baseball game, eat delicious food at restaurants, adventure through cities, and truly be able to relax/have fun with the people around me. Anxious, eating disordered thoughts made it pretty much impossible to be present with the people in my life. Worrying about how many steps I’m taking or how many calories I’d eaten completely distracted me from life’s experiences like traveling, or baseball games, or even little mundane moments like seeing the wildflowers along the highway as I drove past.

So, why am I telling you this?

Because it was those initial, bold steps that set me on a trajectory for healing. Recovery was only possible because I ate burgers at restaurants when everything inside me was screaming not to. Recovery was only possible because I chose to go to baseball games even though I was still too distracted to pay attention, because it was practice. It was going through the motions to get the place I am today.

To be honest, overcoming food fears feels pretty anticlimactic. It feels like normalcy. A burger feels like no big deal now, when I’m truly in recovery. But at the same time, especially when I think back to ten(ish) years ago, it feels like a world of difference, and that feels like victory.


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