Food is fuel.
This is a saying we hear a lot in eating disorder recovery. It’s medicine, it’s energy, it’s essential. All of these things are absolutely true, but is that all food is? Can we boil it down to just being a necessary and functional part of life?
Food, to me, used to be a source of nothing but anxiety. Thinking and talking about it, when deep in anorexia, took up my every waking moment. I was utterly consumed by it – obsessed to the point of totally taking over my personality. It was vital to my recovery to start viewing it not as something to be terrified of and avoided at all costs, but as something that was prescribed to me by professionals, as medication would be. My meal plan was there to help me to recover my life and both my physical and mental health. It was essential that I started to see it as fuel for both my body and my mind.
Now, at this stage in my recovery, where I feel comfortable and stable in my health, food means so much more to me than that. It’s not just units of energy, it’s more than numbers and calories.
To me, food is the Nando’s I have with my group of best friends at every single one of our birthdays, laughing at how for 10 years we’ve ordered basically the same thing every time. It’s sharing chocolate Easter bunnies with my beautiful nieces, and eating roast potatoes at Christmas with my mum, cooked using techniques she passed down to me many years before. Food is the cake my boyfriend and I eat most weekends at our favourite local café, and the pizza we order late at night on our way home from a night out. It’s the marmite cheeses I carefully break and half and share with my cat, and the strawberry ends I feed my bunny once I’ve eaten the best bits. It’s the hot chocolates I make myself in the evenings when it gets cold – not because anyone is watching me or because I have a meal plan to fulfil, but because I want to, and I am investing in small acts of kindness towards myself.
Food is fuel, that is true. But it’s also memories and warmth and self care and generosity and love. Eating is a necessary part of life, and that cannot be denied. We must eat to function, and not just to survive, but to thrive. One of the most important parts of my recovery, however, has been learning how much more to is there is than just survival.
Food is fuel, but it’s so much more than that, and you deserve the chance to experience it in its many wonderful forms.