The Mighty Logo

Why Food Still Scares Me in Eating Disorder Recovery

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

It’s the panic I feel when my family decides to order spur-of-the-moment pizza or takeout, or when a friend suggests an impromptu trip for ice cream. That trigger that raises a red flag in my head, asking me if I’m going to loosen the reigns and how much.

The thing about food, with me, is that it’s never just a fun night out or a guilt-free day off. I physically cringe at the thought of certain foods entering my body. I feel like if I have even just one bite of an unplanned treat, I’ll lose complete control and go overboard, right into binge-mode.

It may sound ridiculous to some, but the fear is very real to me, because it’s happened before.

It’s hard to explain my relationship with food to others, and it’s something I have dealt with for many years. People tell me all the time to “treat myself” and not worry because “you only live once!” But what they don’t understand is the mental war being waged in my head. The instant urge to dig my nails into my skin to try and take my mind off the bloating I feel in my stomach after a moment of indulgence. I can’t enjoy it. I want to, but as soon as I give in to temptation, the guilt sets in and I’m immediately flooded with regret.

So I apologize to the people I may annoy or upset when I decline an invitation to eat out or when I make a big stink about skipping dessert runs to the supermarket. I’m not trying to avoid a nice evening with you. I’m just doing my best to maintain control, not go off the deep end and slip into a state of extreme disappointment in myself.

We don’t fault people for not going out for drinks while they’re recovering from alcoholism. But unlike alcohol, I can’t go cold turkey from eating. So try and keep that in mind. Some addictions and vices we can’t push out of our lives completely — it’s a struggle that I have to deal with at least three times a day.

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 lorenzoantonucci

Originally published: September 6, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home