Friday, August 13, 2010

There are things in life far more dangerous than calories.

Though I feel as though I eat healthy foods for the most part, there are still foods, even this far into the recovery process, that continue to give me anxiety. Here is a (long) list of foods/drinks that still make me nervous, but that I'm learning to live with:

Sugar: Sugar, throughout the duration of my eating disorder, has been one of the most fearful of foods. Only now am I in a position to think about it logically. I know that there are only 16 calories in one teaspoon of sugar. Even in a tablespoon there are only 46. There is no fat in either. So what’s the big deal? I’m not gobbling up sugar by the cup full. What’s the danger of adding 46 calories to my coffee in the morning? 46 calories. I’m not afraid of you anymore.

Peanut Butter: This one has been the scariest food for me hands down. I have avoided peanut butter like the plague for the last 6 years. I did, one day a few weeks ago, have a peanut butter sandwich. I ate it, but the nerves were still there. The issue I have with peanut butter is that, unlike sugar, there are approximately 95 calories per tablespoon and 9 grams of fat (depending on whether or not it is salted). The problem is that one tablespoon of peanut butter doesn’t go very far. For a proper peanut butter sandwich, I would prefer at least two tablespoons. This would make the caloric intake closer to 200 (in peanut butter alone) and fat grams would be close to 18. Frankly, this still scares me. But it doesn’t stop me. I have eaten peanut butter since my recovery began and lived to tell about it. I didn’t gain a billion pounds. I didn’t fall off the face of the universe. The sun still rises and sets. Peanut butter will not kill you. Unless, of course, you have a peanut allergy. Those things are pretty serious. The point is that peanut butter, like anything else, is fine (and delicious) in moderation.

“Ice cream” / Dessert (vegan, of course): Being vegan, it is difficult and rare to come across a delicious and animal free dessert. This doesn’t bother me much since I don’t generally have a sweet tooth. I consider myself a good cook, but a horrible baker. I don’t like measuring ingredients. I like to cut corners. Subtract things and add something that wasn’t called for. The results are always disastrous, and sometimes inedible. So the only time I encounter a proper vegan dessert is in a good vegetarian or vegan restaurant and I, due to my dessert fear, am always hesitant to try them. I know there is sugar involved (much more than a tablespoon). And, in a restaurant setting, it’s hard to know just how many calories and how much fat something contains. Luckily, that’s a good thing. Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to my favorite Veggie/Vegan restaurant and had a wonderful meal including blueberry pie and soy ice cream. Even though it was so so delicious, I muttered aloud I wonder how many calories this has. My boyfriend said, “Zero. “ I smiled and we both ate in peace. Just like with peanut butter, the world did not come to a screeching halt.

Full fat “milk”: Okay, being vegan, of course that means no milk. Instead, I drink soy milk, but even then, I buy “light.” The caloric and fat content of milk and soy milk are sort of similar, though the levels in soy milk are less. I don’t know why I insist on still buying “light.” In all of my eating disorder induced mania, buying the full fat was an absolute offense of the highest order. But I don’t think like that anymore. I can think clearly. I can think for myself. I don’t give a damn if there is a 30 calorie/2 fat gram difference between regular soy milk and light soy milk. I am out, by the way. Next time I buy soy milk, I’m buying regular.

Olive oil/salad dressing: This is one that makes me cringe. Olive oil, my love. Disgusting on its own, but delicious to cook with. I never, deep into my eating disorder, used olive oil or any other type of oil. Then again, I didn’t cook back then. I don’t even think I’ll put the caloric content here and especially not the fat grams because I don’t want to think about it. I eat olive oil almost everyday now in some capacity, whether to sauté onions or garlic or to make a homemade salad dressing. It has become a part of my life and it’s better for me not to think of it. I don’t consume that much of it. It is okay in moderation. As for salad dressing, I make my own. I don’t count calories (in that or in anything). It’s sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. It’s working.

Wine/alcohol: I don’t drink very often and I never have. It’s always been something I could take or leave. Very rarely do I consume any alcohol other than wine, and even that is rare. I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner, though it’s something I could live without very easily. I used to not drink alcohol strictly because I was scared of extra calories. There are 7 calories per one gram of alcohol. By the time you drink a glass, it’s over a hundred calories. That used to sound very scary but I’m finding that it doesn’t matter. I learning that to me, every calorie used to count. Not anymore

Bread: I have always, even before my eating disorder, had a love-hate relationship with bread. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never had a sweet tooth. Instead I crave things like bread or nuts or chips or anything salty and delicious. Bread, as we know, is high in carbohydrates. Of course, the nutrient breakdown in bread depends on which brand and which type of bread you’re looking at. When it comes to toast or sandwiches, I prefer a nice multi-grain. I prefer 12 grains or higher—the more the better. I also love a nice fresh round of sourdough or a nice wheat baguette. I’m not even going to lie. Bread is delicious. I don’t even care how many calories are in bread. I like raisin bread. I like garlic bread. I try to eat it in moderation. I’m learning not to deny myself anything I crave. Bread is the best example of that.

Chips: Again, I love chips because they are salty. They are also fried. This presents a problem. My favorite chips are tortilla chips. In fact, tacos are my favorite food. Of course, I leave the meat out and use black beans instead. I make tacos like that once a week, usually on Saturdays. It’s one of my favorite meals, and, the way I prepare it, is pretty healthy. Regardless, chips make me nervous. I don’t deny myself, but I don’t let myself eat too many either.

Lemonade (with real sugar): I dedicated an entire post to lemonade and other drinkable calories a few weeks ago. I am learning to drink calories again. It’s summer. Lemons are delicious. Lemonade is delicious, especially if you add tons of fresh mint. I used to make it with a sugar substitute, but it’s so much better with real sugar. I don’t have to drink the entire pitcher. Even if I did, I would not balloon up. Trust me. There are things in life far more dangerous than calories.

French fries (and anything else that is fried): Okay, this is still a major struggle for me. I still do not eat French fries. Ever. I don’t even remember the last time I went to a restaurant and ordered French fries for myself. It has been years. Sometimes, if we go out and my boyfriend orders fries (this happened last week) I will eat one or two of them. I still am not able to eat a full order on my own. However, I’ve found a wonderful solution that is just as satisfying to me—oven baked fries! They are so much healthier and just as delicious. I eat them all the time. Oven baked onion rings are also delicious and healthy. I eat them guilt free.

What I realized while typing this list:

These foods still make me nervous, but I realized that I do eat all of them. I have eaten (or drank) every single one of them within the last month, some of them (like bread and olive oil) I’ve been consuming regularly if not daily.

This list of fear foods is growing smaller and smaller. 5 years ago my list was triple (or more) the size it is now. In fact, I was afraid of every food. I’ve made so much progress. Who knows, maybe 5 years from now there won’t even be a list at all.

The point is, food is only food.

Food is okay.

There is nothing to be afraid of.


  1. Food is in only food, and it is DAMN delicious. It's funny because peanut butter and ice cream are my absolute favorite foods, and I never stopped eating them. I thin this was a good idea to make a list of foods you are still afraid of. It would be so amazing if 5 years from now there was no list! I believe it is definitely possible! xoxo

  2. We have many of the same food fears, besides alcohol which I used to drink instead of eating period, just to numb out and not feel. I think it is great that in the past month you have faced a lot of these fears. Very inspiring!

  3. You know, Emmy's right. Food is DAMN delicious, and it is much more so when you can enjoy it and know that you are not going to be plagued with horrible feelings later. I share a lot of the same apprehensions that you do, but my list is also getting smaller, like yours. In fact, I try to not really think about a list when I'm making choices about what I should eat. These days I try simply to give myself what I think I would really appreciate. It's all about balance, after all. And your progress is proof of your strength - soon you won't even have a list! You are such an inspiration to me :)