themighty logo

When Anxiety Makes Me Forget to Eat


My life has changed a lot over the last few months, and at times, I have felt all over the place. I cope well for the most part, but occasionally I can feel myself spiraling into a big ball of anxiety.

What has struck me over the past few weeks is that my default setting whenever I do seem to spiral is to forget to eat. That may be annoying for any of you reading who struggle with your weight, but being so anxious that you feel sick at the thought of food isn’t much fun. I went for dinner recently with somebody I don’t know well, and it took a lot of effort to eat in front of them. I’ve been trying to make sense of all this, and I think I’ve finally cracked the case.

When I feel low or anxious, I simply don’t bother to look after myself because I don’t think I’m worth it. Not “worth it” in the sense of the cosmetics ads with the flowing hair, but “worth it” as in caring enough to want to nourish myself. Food is fundamentally fuel for the body — petrol to give it energy to get through the day. If I’m feeling low and have no energy, food goes way down on my list of priorities, and when I feel very anxious and hyperactive, I have no interest in eating either. This isn’t because I’m trying to starve myself. My problem doesn’t seem to be with food: my problem is with myself. Simply put, I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve to eat.

When I see people who love food, I see people who love life. The best example of this I can think of are Italians — I really think they have got life figured out. Surely “La Dolce Vita” is something we should all be aiming for. People who truly love food see the joy in eating a beautiful meal and can enjoy the sensuous experience it offers. A dear friend of mine likes to point out to me that my favorite foods are all beige and bland. I like safe foods that don’t really taste like anything and fill me up without me having to think too much. I am making progress though. 

I’m clearly not an expert, and if you are reading this and feel you may have serious issues with food, then please speak to somebody. I would also recommend anything you can get your hands on by Emma Woolf; an incredibly brave and honest writer who has documented her recovery from anorexia in a series of newspaper articles and books. I hope my story helps you if you are reading this and you feel like anxiety affects your eating habits.

This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via mheim3011