Carbs and Cages.

Eating disorders are about “shoulds,” but the rules turn into bars that trap you. I’m escaping: I’ve been easing my way back to the real world, but because some of me is still captive, some of the behaviours remain and try to exercise influence.

They offer opinions on how I’m “supposed” to live my life. There’s a “correct” way to do things (I know this will surprise some people), and not doing things “correctly” leads to negative consequences. What those consequences will be is a mystery, but the fear and anxiety are real, and they drive the compulsive behaviours. [i]

Which explains why I was still slogging through emails at ten this morning even though I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and mostly wanted to be doing something else.

But rules are important. And emails are very important.

I had a weird, “you should throw up lunch” moment after eating noodles the other day. It surprised me: I haven’t had a direct attack by my eating disorder in quite some time. I was, for a moment, tempted. Not by the vomiting, but by the promise of a lifestyle.

Recovery is an odd thing, and the longer you’ve lived with the behaviour you’re abandoning, the odder it is. It leaves you at a loss. There’s a hole where the problem was. Depending on one’s nature and the timeline, the hole can be large and hard to fill. In the early days of eating regularly and not throwing up, it felt like my entire body was an empty space where chaotic thoughts and emotions rattled around unrestrained.

The hole is smaller now, but it still exists.

Chaos is scary. Eating disorders promise structure.

I suppose that’s why I was tempted. The eating disorder was terrible, but it was also security. I understood that world and my role. I felt safe in hell and could perform in the other areas of my life (not as well as I imagined I was, however). It gave me purpose, even if the meaning it bestowed was based on a lie.

We all want a life of meaning.

You need to be thin. That’s the lie that it tells. Sometimes, it pretties things up with more words, but at the end of the day, “thin” is the lie it tries to sell as the truth.

I know it’s a lie because I’ve been very thin. Eating disorder thin. It didn’t make me happy: it didn’t make my life perfect. I see the pictures: sometimes I see the “too thinness.” Other times, all I feel is nostalgic regret.

I still have a way to go.

More protein would likely improve things and cancel out the latent vomit-wishes. [ii] Simple carbs are often a problem. Even if they don’t make my eating disorder pop back up from her hopefully fatal slumber, too many of them will make my mood tank. I also think more clearly with more protein on board. If only carbs weren’t so easy and tasty. If only I liked to eat other things.

That’s a slight exaggeration. I don’t hate non-pasta and non-fruit. I find eating easy to make difficult. I’ll eat, but poorly. Which probably doesn’t help my chronic pain situation.

Then again, shooting myself in the foot is a long-standing habit. I’m comfortable doing it: who wants to aim at targets they can’t hit?

The short-term solution was in the breakfast aisle: I switched my cereal to Vector by Kellogg’s. It’s got more protein than the norm for bowls of carbs, and the taste is surprisingly pleasant: I was expecting nasty, mostly because consumption is a “have-to.”

The long-term solution is to accept reality. Accept that I have to eat a variety of foods. Accept my new shape and the lack of neuroses-designed structure. Acceptance is more complicated than it sounds, and it’s a process. I’m at an odd stage: the eating disorder doesn’t fit properly, but the new frame doesn’t feel right, either.

No structure anywhere.

The new frame has jagged bits and pieces that rub the wrong way. And, by “jagged bits,” I mean flesh on the hips, stomach, ass, and thighs. It’s hard to accept. I still hate flesh. [iii]

Life can be challenging without my eating disorder, who will sometimes whisper at me when the box of cavatappi comes out. She tells me life flowed when she was in charge. She tells me things were light and easy before. Part of me wants to believe her. It’s hard, being a grown-up, having to believe truth over lies.

Unfortunately for my eating disorder, despite the weird regrets and inappropriate nostalgia, I do remember. My memories bring the truth and shine a light on her nostalgic lies.

I may be struggling with this, that, and the other right now, but things have definitely been worse.


[i] They feel real, even if they aren’t based on reality.

[ii] Most people with eating disorders are protein deficient. I have no proof of this. I’m globalizing, based on my experiences. I tried to find an article or study, but bailed after a couple of Google pages. I doubt there is one: that’s a global answer, and most doctors and researchers are concerned with their narrow specialties.

[iii] My proofreading program hates it when I use the word “hate.” It tries to offer more dispassionate options.

10 thoughts on “Carbs and Cages.

  1. I hear you. keep on NOT believing the lies the ED whispers to you. such a LIAR! you are on a great path that I hope I can follow as well. Total ambivalence has worked well for me currently. Living with my parents has provided a very co-dependent environment, but my mother and I are the worst. I have played into it by telling her I will eat whatever and whenever she wants me to. I can’t think about it anymore. She prepares meals and I eat them, every bit. Somehow, this is easy for me!! I don’t know why, but I’m looking at food as medicine I have to take. This is working pretty well. My mother gets to mother me, and I don’t have to make any choices. My choice would always be to NOT EAT.

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    1. Codependency and eating disorders reinforce each other. That being said, accepting help is not a bad way to recover. Do you have a copy of the “Eating Disorder Anonymous” book? It’s like the AA blue book. There are quite a few stories of people recovering by having other’s cook everything for them, or even feeding them. I did a lot of eating out and ordering in following release from my most recent inpatient experience myself. It helps: it takes the pressure off.

      Don’t judge yourself too harshly for accepting help.

      I might suggest that it’s your eating disorder’s choice to not eat. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Em – I do not have a copy of the ED book, and I have never heard of it! should I try to get it on Amazon? I certainly agree with you – having meals prepared and served REALLY takes the pressure off. I have this agreement with my parents that I will eat meals given to me. They know my trigger foods and stay away from them. Conversely, they prepare things that I really like, all the time. I am lucky. but nothing helps with the after-meal guilt. it is OVERWHELMING. I can’t breathe sometimes.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Once, at treatment, a therapist asked me to binge with a friend and not purge. Just sit. I did. I ate a chocolate bar. I sat. I thought I would die. For almost an hour. I didn’t think I could bear it. So, I get you. But, I didn’t die. And the discomfort eases with time. The lousy thing is this: the only way to find out if I’m telling the truth is to live through hundreds and hundreds of uncomfortable times. I wish there was another way. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. “My proofreading program hates it when I use the word “hate.” It tries to offer more dispassionate options.”🤣..I really enjoy your writing style. I think that’s the kind of writing I aspire to be able to do. Will be checking more of your posts💚

    Liked by 2 people

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