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What I've Learned About Nutrition: Food for Thought From a Former Eater

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Have you ever worried about what your next meal might be? Will you have enough time during lunch to run to the cafeteria? Will you be able to make it to the grocery store in time to get something in the oven? Or will you be able to make it to the restaurant before it closes? Did you pack enough snacks?

I used to spend a lot of time worrying about my nutrition. However, I no longer have to worry about my next meal.

My meal planning involves a shipment of home health care supplies that arrives at my doorstep every Friday.

You see, I have a rare illness that impacts my ability to eat.

In fact, there are not many moments in a day that remain untouched by my disease.

After over a year of fighting malnourishment due to my inability to properly digest food I now eat through my heart. I sustain myself with an IV bag full of nutrients that is delivered to my body through a central line.

medical supplies for getting nutrition via TPN

With a disease that alters the way you eat, you are immediately foreign in a world that revolves around food. Whether it is healthy eating, meal planning, foodies, indulgent eating, snack mastery or cooking competitions, nearly everyone has an appetite for something. I have yet to find a road that does not take me by a grocery store, fast food drive-thru or restaurant. Most of society is consumed with the thought of their past or future meals.

Food is how we socialize. Weddings, lunch dates, birthday parties, holidays, celebrations of every kind and even funeral gatherings all allow people to congregate around the punch bowl and typically end with a slice of dessert.

buffet of food

Even social media is rampant with pictures of your last meal, your next meal and the meal you wish you were eating.

While many dream of food, I can eat while I sleep. Every day I connect my PICC line to a milky white bag of TPN, or total parental nutrition. I do this because eating conventionally makes me sick. I cannot remember the last time I ate or drank without vomiting. I would guess it was a couple of years ago.

My life revolves around getting proper nutrition, yet I cannot experience food socially or as gratifyingly as the rest of the world does.

I do not intend to complain. I am thankful for healthcare, and insurance, and amazing medical entities that allow me to sustain my body in such an unnatural way. I write this instead to offer perspective.

black and white photo of a woman sitting at a table and smiling

Disordered eating is wildly prevalent in our society. It can look like a classic eating disorder, “healthy” eating preoccupation or general food obsession. Many people, at some time in their life, may find themselves in a chaotic relationship with food.

I would encourage you to appreciate but not obsess over food. Enjoy the socialization that food can bring rather than the food itself. Enjoy great meals, and savor delectable treats. Consider food as good fuel to power your most precious life activities. Listen to your body, and treat it with respect.

Food allows you to be an amazing mom or dad, grandparent, lawyer, nurse, athlete, artist or businessperson. Food helps you think, drives your intelligence and revs up your desire to pursue great beliefs and actions.

Nutrition is essential, but it is also a gift. Treat it as such. And while you are at it, enjoy a bite for me.

Follow this journey on Melissa Chooses Joy.

Originally published: March 2, 2018
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