*possible eating disorder trigger
I’ve been giving some thought to an issue that’s come up and I’ve come to a conclusion that startled me: I don’t think I like chocolate very much. This has kind of rocked my world.
There is, historically, a lot of chocolate I have refused because of dislike. I don’t like chocolate ice cream, or chocolate cake, or chocolate icing, or chocolate filling. Actual chocolate however, I consume regularly. Small pieces to start the day and large quantities when I binge. I realized last week, however, that a lot of the time, I don’t really like the taste.
My exceptional pickiness and rejection of so many things chocolate might have been a clue. Even with chocolate proper, I can only bear the absolutely plain. Texture it up with nuts or cookies or fruit or salt and I’m out of there.
Chocolate has been a forbidden and rigidly controlled food for as long as I can remember. It would definitely be in the top five of trigger foods if I had a list, which I don’t, because I try not to avoid categories of food wholesale anymore. I’m allowed to reject things if I don’t like them – yes, I’m talking to you, bacon – but I’m not allowed to eliminate whole categories. Wholesale restriction is verboten because whatever story I try to peddle about the restriction, it really is always about the eating disorder. Vegetarian or health concerns are always secondary.
I tested the bacon hypothesis. I rejected bacon for years. So much fat. It was never to touch my lips. “I hate it”, I’d swear when questioned. I didn’t challenge that ‘til after I left my most recent stay in recovery. I tried many forbidden foods while in care and tried to carry that on once I was home. So, bacon. I bought it, I cooked it, and I ate it.
I don’t like it. Yes, it’s fatty and I don’t like that but I also do not enjoy the taste or the texture. I appreciate the desiccated bacon bits that come on a baked potato, they add a nice, salty punch but on the whole, the food for me is a miss.
I never bothered to test chocolate. I simply assumed I liked it. I certainly craved it. Chocolate features heavily in my binge memory banks. Chocolate bars, chocolate bulk candy, chocolate kisses. I binged and purged on the last extensively, despite the annoyance of being slowed down by individual wraps.
I would by bags of Kisses that I planned to dole out responsibly. “Responsibly” would be eating three. Three was seventy-five calories and that was equal to a snack so I could substitute without destroying my diet.
It almost never stayed at three.
I’d negotiate four first. One hundred calories. That’s basically an apple. Then I’d have six. I’d promise to cut down lunch. I’d have a few more. Set the total number at ten. That’s two-hundred and fifty calories. I can skip lunch. That’s not a big lunch either. I could have four more. Then it’s just like eating a snack and lunch.
Danger, Will Robinson.
And then would come the giving up. My eating disorder voice would attack. The pattern was always the same. Forget that she’d been behind the logic of the initial consumption pattern. She’d be all rage. Fat. Useless. Pathetic. Disgusting. Eat them all, then. Eat everything. You have to throw up anyhow now. So, I would. I’d eat and I’d purge and I’d swear “never again” until the next day when I’d buy another bag of Kisses and start again.
A perfect solution would have been not to buy the trigger foods but that never seemed to happen. I’d abandon proteins and carbs that might have helped me at the drop of a hat but the junk food that was forbidden, I was determined to prove I could control.
I could not.
My daughter bought me a bag of chocolates for Thanksgiving. A “thank you” for preparing the meal. My first turkey, in point of fact. I have given up asking my family not to buy me large quantities of chocolate and junk foods. They cannot seem to remember, for whatever reason. It makes me sad, angry, and tired but I try to let it go. It is what it is.
The bag sat in my secret drawer until Friday night. Fridays I let myself not restrict. I let go of the recovery menu and tell myself that it’s okay. I can indulge. This is recovery-light, I’m aware, but honestly, every day you don’t throw up is a good day.
I had one chocolate, then two. Then two at a time and then two more. Ten were gone in a short space of time though I was able to hold back the frantic panic that comes with a true binge. “This is indulging”, I tell myself, “nothing more.” It’s not as if my current eating style is unprecedented – there are advocates of the 80-20 eating pattern all over social media. And yes, I’m aware that trying to justify behaviour I admit is problematic is slightly facile.
But, as I sat there chewing my way through the eighth or ninth piece, I had a thought: I don’t think I like chocolate very much. I carried on eating because I was allowed to but the thought remained. I let it bounce around my head and I revisited it every so often and I finally decided that I concurred.
I like the smell of chocolate. I like the texture; I like the way it feels when it slowly dissolves in your mouth, a feature of milk chocolate. I’m quite a tactile person and things like that make me happy. But the taste? It’s okay.
That’s it. It’s okay. The taste doesn’t transport me to rhapsodic heights. It doesn’t make me weak in the knees. If I had to choose between a chocolate bar – and I often find them cloying – or a nice, fresh, tart, kiwi fruit I’d pick the latter every day.
It’s funny the things you can learn if you listen to yourself, if you analyze the things that you do to see if you really want to do them anymore, to see if they still hold any meaning or if you are simply trapped in a habit you don’t give much thought to.
I haven’t replenished the stock of chocolate in the drawer. I haven’t been starting the day with a square though that’s been my ritual for decades. And you know what? I don’t really miss it.