“A friend once told me she wished she could scrape the taste buds off her tongue, so she didn’t have to choose between the pleasures of eating and being thin.”
So writes author and professor Harriet Brown in her book, Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle With Anorexia. (Check out my interview with Harriet: part 1 and part 2.)
Does this statement shock you?
It did me.
But then, I did some thinking about all the times I wished I had some benign illness that made me lose my appetite. Some medical condition that forced me to go on a special diet.
Maybe a diet without carbs. Or fat. Or the other evil food types that tempted me.
This way, I wouldn’t have to say no to my favorite foods, like cake and pizza.
My magical condition would make the decisions for me.
In college, I also wished for wisdom teeth. My best friend had hers taken out and, since she had to subsist on JELL-O for several days, the pounds just melted.
I thought, “Wow, she’s so lucky.”
Because having a not-too-serious illness or a special diet or a must-eat-JELL-O restriction would mean that I didn’t have to choose between enjoying my food and attaining thinness.
I’d finally be able to diet successfully. It’d boost my willpower, too.
I’d presumably have it all.
And I wouldn’t have to deal with the issues underlying my eating or my desire for thinness. I wouldn’t have to address my fear of having two apples in one day. Or dig deep to see what my negative body image represented. To understand what being thin really meant to me.
As my body image has improved and I discovered intuitive eating, I look back and I’m horrified to think that I ever had these thoughts. That I didn’t think that I deserved to enjoy eating or nourish my body.
I’m also horrified that many women have the same thoughts today.
I’ve finally realized that having choices is a good thing. And my choices go beyond eating for pleasure or being thin. Because I’m letting thinness go, as hard as that is. I’m letting go of the allure of losing weight.
I’m finally realizing how to nourish my body, my appetite and myself.
And I hope that you will, too.
What have you wished to give up in order to be thinner? Have you wanted to be sick in order to lose weight? How did you turn those thoughts around?
P.S., Please check out Elizabeth Patch’s funny and wise LadyLand magazine, “mixed messages for Today’s Woman.” It’s so spot-on!
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Last reviewed: 3 Dec 2010