The brown bag effect

I haven't ever packed my own lunch and brought it to work or school with me. In middle and high school, I helped, sure, but my mom put it in my backpack in the morning. In college, if I was eating, it was in an on-campus cafeteria. No packing or pre-thought required. By the time I had left college, the eating disorder was in full swing. On a good day, I'd grab an apple and a sugar-free yogurt, stuff it in my bag, and run out the door.

As I moved home and started recovery in earnest, my mom was once again on brown bag duty. It worked out well, and things moved along splendidly. This past year, as I was in school, I never had class over lunchtime and lived only a 15 minute walk from campus. So packing a lunch wasn't really an issue.

It is now.

With having to get up for work disgustingly early (well, for a night owl like me), I need to pre-plan my lunch and snacks the night before. I could go out to lunch--and I do--but it gets expensive and the pay isn't so great that I can afford to do so regularly. Nor do I like doing so- a leftover, perhaps, from the eating disorder.

I'm not used to this. It seems onerous. I just finished dinner and here I am making LUNCH for tomorrow. Yet I know it won't happen in the morning, so it has to happen at night. I need to make it happen.

Did I mention I hate this?

I didn't expect to like packing a lunch- never heard of a single person who does. But I didn't expect the level of difficulty in taking ten minutes out of my day to make a sandwich or put leftovers in Tupperware. I'm not used to it. I'm not used to relating to food like a normal adult, and it takes a massive shift in my thinking to do simple things like packing a lunch.

It's not particularly healing or mind-opening. Just weird. I hadn't realized all the ways in which my eating disorder had permeated my thinking until I slowly started to examine those ways. And get rid of them, blowing them out of my brain and spreading them like dandelion seeds.

These adjustments? They're hard. And they take energy. I want to shake the Powers that Be and scream: "I have a two hour commute each way, you bastards! I work hard! I am trying! And I am tired! Could someone up there please just make it a little bit easier down here? Because this is Really. Not. Fair."

But enough whining. I have a lunch to pack.

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b said...

Yeah! Go you! I firmly believe that the ED is going to make that 10 minutes of lunch packing pure hell to try to dissuade you from continuing. But that's a good thing, a tremendous step in recovery, and I don't even know you - but hey - I'm proud. :) Hang in there, as a fellow tupperware packer, I totally get it.

(I saw you had posted something from the Ed digest feed...)

Vickyann said...

I always had pre planning and packing meals, I want to be spontaneous and choose what I feel like when I'm hungry and enjoy it.

But there are times we have to do it and each time you do the fear loses it's strength.


tokaiangel said...

For what it's worth, I think you're doing really well.

I'm not too bad at making myself food, but I never pack myself anything I really enjoy eating - guess the need to deprive myself in some way is still hanging around.

Do you enjoy preparing food for other people? Maybe pretend you're making the lunch for somebody else, somebody you care about, that helps for me sometimes. Because really we ought to care about ourselves just as much - but it's easy to forget.

TA x

Libby said...

I'm so glad you posted this... Makes me feel like I'm not completely alone or crazy for having an issue with this, too! Makes me feel a little better about the fact that I managed to pack snacks for today but no lunch. I'll have to buy something. Guess we'll see what I'm hungry for when lunchtime rolls around...

carrie said...

So I think fate is having a chuckle on my behalf: I packed my lunch but forgot it at home. I even put it in the little bag and everything! Then I went to grab my stuff and managed to get my tote but forgot the lunch. Grrr.

But I went to lunch with a coworker and all was well. I'm still annoyed though.

Anonymous said...

I don't love packing lunches, but here's what I do: make several sandwiches at the same time; put them in plastic bags and put them in the freezer. By the time lunchtime rolls around, the day's sandwich should be thawed. SImilarly, pack all desserts (cookies, muffins, whatever) at the same time and stick them in the freezer or fridge. Pack all salty snacks the same way (but they don't need cold storage). Not fun but takes less time than doing each thing every night.

IrishUp said...

Another strategy - over the weekend, or whenever you have time, make doubles or triples on lunch and dinner, and pack up and/or freeze the extras. This lets you have a few lunches you don't have to pack the night before, and provides emergency meals for when you're too tired, broke, etc to make a dinner too.

For us, living in the NE, packing lunch saves us $100s each year. You can easily pi@@ away $20-30/day just on coffee, lunch and snacks. I'd rather spend that money travelling. Not to mention all the plastic waste not generated. I try to keep my focus on the greater picture when doing small-necessary-and-yucky tasks :)

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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