To eat anything and not gain a pound.
My guess is that would make the top three on most people’s wish list. Well, behind winning the lottery and world peace, of course. For a brief moment, that wish came true for me, and not to brag, but it was fantastic.
Little Embers. During the years I was inactive anorexia, that is how I would describe my appetite. When I felt a flicker of hunger, I would feed my body just enough to take the edge off, but not so much that my desire would burst out of control. Early into treatment, I was well aware I had to try harder to gain enough weight to keep Gretchen and Kirsten happy. And aside from staying out of inpatient, not letting them down was my main motivator. I was not sure I was ready to gain weight for all my talk, but I knew I wanted to prove to G and K I could. So I dabbled in adding more food, cautiously dipping my toe back into the forbidden foods pool. Introducing a fuller fat yogurt at breakfast, a slice of chewy sourdough bread with my egg whites at lunch, and a spoonful of mashed potatoes with my fish at dinner. Cautiously enjoying foods I had drooled over for years, yet had never let myself enjoy. After each meal, I waited for the full, bloated feeling I was sure would come from eating such “decadent” foods. More often than not, like with the carrot cake moment, I didn’t feel full but rather just the opposite, giving me the courage to continue eating. With each bite, the little embers slowly growing into crackling flames. Homemade brownies from the tennis lunch buffet, ravioli I had made the boys for dinner, Trader Joes orange chicken. Like tissue paper on a raging fire, every calorie instantly burning to leave me hungry for more.
I was giddy. In my mind, I was eating so much food. Delicious, decadent food I had deprived myself of for years. Yet my clothes still fit, my stomach was not bloated, and I was not suffering from that full feeling I hated so much. It made me question why I had spent so many years afraid of food and the discomfort, both emotional and physical, I assumed would accompany the consumption of such deliciousness. It was magical.
As I excitedly jumped on the little dictator, backward of course, I watched Gretchen’s face as she recorded my weight on her clipboard, hoping to see a slight smile that might confirm my suspicion that all that food I had been eating would indeed show progress on the scale.
Gretchen’s face gave nothing away, but her words left nothing to the imagination.
For years I steered clear of cooking anything that might tempt me to eat too much. Here was my first foray back into doing so with one of my favorites, my mom’s enchiladas. (2016)