I can't eat that.
I won't eat that.
Pretty much the same, right? The food won't be eaten. The difference, of course, is why. Can't says "I'm unable to." Won't says "I'm choosing not to."
When I was really into the eating disorder, my treatment team told me I needed to eat more. "I can't!" I wailed. "I just can't." Being rational folks, my team told me that, having a mouth that opened and a hand to hold a fork and an arm to bring it to my mouth, indeed could eat. I was only choosing not to.
Which was, I suppose, technically correct. But, for all intents and purposes, I was so phobic of food that I couldn't eat more than the handful of calories I had allocated to myself. It was as if the eating disorder was holding a gun to my head, hissing and whispering that eating a bite of burger was going to cause him to pull the trigger. Really? It wasn't much of a choice.
Yet I could eat, and being sat down at a table (whether at home, in treatment, or at a hospital) and told I had to eat the burger, the pasta, the fish sticks, usually resulted in the food being consumed. And digested. I might have preferred that the eating disorder make good on his gun-to-the-head threat, but I ate and survived.
By doing this time after time, I was able to see that the eating disorder held a squirt gun, not a revolver. And then that he was a complete impostor and held no gun at all.
Now, other than MSG (which I'm allergic to- gives me migraines and makes me puke), I can honestly say "I won't eat that" rather than "I can't." There is a sense of empowerment there.
I like to blog here that I say I can't skip a meal or I can't go on a diet because of my history. But the truth is that I can. I'm actually quite good at it. My years of anorexia have showed me that I'm a little too good at eating less and exercising more- pathologically so.
When my old office went on a diet, I felt left out. For one, all they talked about was food, which was boring. Second, I felt deprived. They got to diet and I couldn't. It wasn't FAIR! I had to eat my calorrific lunch and they got to munch on cucumber slices.
Now, I realize that I could technically have dieted along with them. I had the ability. I could freely make that choice. But I can't diet and have the negative effects come back and bite me in the ass. And those effects (namely, relapse) would come sooner, rather than later.
So I say: I don't diet. I won't diet. It's my choice.
(Much of my thinking on this subject has evolved through reading the book "Embracing Fear" by Thom Rutledge, the co-author of "Life Without Ed." I highly recommend both books.)
I can't eat that.
- binge eating disorder
- biology of EDs
- body image
- disordered eating
- eating disorder
- Grand Theory of Eating Disorders
- narrating anorexia
- normal eating
- obesity hysteria
- weight gain
- weight loss
- Carrie Arnold
- 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.
Drop me a line!
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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