A trip down memory lane

I was thinking about my snack this afternoon, and several options floated through my head.  As I was contemplating what to have, I remembered my after school snacks from almost 20 years ago now.

The fluffer nutter was one of my favorites. 

For those of you that aren't in the know, a fluffer nutter is a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich.  Except my mom didn't make fluffer nutters with bread. She made them with graham crackers.  Actually, I didn't know that my mom's confection had a formal name until I was in high school or college.  Nonetheless, I loved my peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on graham crackers.

Of course, an eating disorder changed that innocence where all I thought of was "sweet-salty-crunchy-yumminess." 

Now I think about things like carbs and whole grains and high fructose corn syrup.  I wonder whether I'm eating too much added sugars. I worry what others might think of a 30-year-old eating a fluffer nutter for a snack.  I worry what others might think of a 30-year-old having an afternoon snack, period.

The truth is this: I don't remember what it feels like not to worry about every crumb I eat.  I remember that there was a time when I didn't, but I don't actually remember that feeling.  Some of that loss may be the inexorable process of growing up.  After all, I think about lots of things in a much more nuanced way than I did as a 10-year-old.  But there's a difference between being aware of the fact that straight up sugar might not keep you satiated for long, and fretting over what the sugar might do to your butt.

I don't know that this innocence is ever coming back.  And that's sad.  I'm tired of worrying so much.  I want to switch this off, just for a bit.  Yet the fact of the matter remains that it likely won't every go away, not really.  Not completely. 

I'm not saying that this worry will never stop consuming much of my waking hours.  After all, I'm not dropping substantial cash on therapy for nothing.  I am working to relax about food and, you know, pretty much everything.  But I feel like I know too much and have let too much of my life be taken up by these obsessions to ever go back to the carefree person that existed before the anorexia struck over ten years ago now.

At the same time, I think it's important to remember that this person did exist in the first place.  That I could manage my food and weight without interfering in every little detail, without worry and fear and gnawing anxiety.  That I didn't need to follow a food plan to the letter and yet I was okay and the world was okay.  It's a very different mindset to how I currently manage things.

I suppose sitting here and being all mournful about these changes is neither uplifting nor enlightening.  I don't want to just piss and moan over what used to be.  I don't do nostalgia.  I can't change the fact that I got sick and have been sick and have changed.  It is what it is.  Time passes and the person I was has become the person I am now.

I'm not missing a sandwich, I'm missing a mindset.  But that doesn't mean I can't still enjoy a fluffer nutter or two.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what people think of me having my snack too. Sometimes I worry that people will think that I eat too much (after all, what adult has to have a snack, at a certain time at that). I wish I could just eat without over thinking everything. I would love to eat like my children. That is my goal.

Noor said...

"I don't do nostalgia".

Carrie - I challenge you on this one. What's wrong with nostalgia? Nostalgia doesn't mean pissing and moaning about all that went wrong...to look back on your fluffer nutter childhood days and say "it's gone, and there's sorrow in that" - that's pretty human, and basic. Today would be meaningless if it wasn't something we could look back on tomorrow with nostalgia.

Nostalgia isn't being weak or self-pitying. And it IS enlightening. It's recognising parts of your life or personality that were a part of you then and in the same way, remain a part of you now.

Honey, if it's fluffer nutters you miss, then miss them. Get nostalgic! If laughter were the expression of happiness, tears the expression of sadness, then nostalgia is the expression of memory. It's healthy. To deny it, to deny your fluffer nutter childhood days with a "I won't pity myself" - don't think of what you lost, but what you had.

Nostalgia IS englightening! Right now, it's reminding you there was a YOU before the anorexia. If that's not enlightening, then I don't know what is.

Katie said...

I remember worrying about this a year or so ago. Despite being at a healthy weight I had no idea how my attitude towards food could ever be more relaxed, because how the heck can you "forget" calories? I knew the calorie count of everything I ate, it's not like I could just ignore that. It seemed impossible that I would ever get numbers and food related anxiety out of my head.

Guess I was wrong! Despite having no clue how to do so and no professional guidance, I decided that I was going to learn to eat intuitively and screw the ED if it tried to interfere :P so I kept a close eye on my weight while I tried to get back in touch with physical hunger signals and gave up counting calories. When I was ill and when I was going through weight restoration I was totally obsessed with numbers - which I suppose is inevitable if you mix AN and OCD together - but now calories don't come into my head. I have changed my default, so I automatically DON'T count. I have no idea how many calories I eat on a daily basis. I have no idea what I'm going to eat for lunch or dinner. I feel like I really have recaptured a variation of that relationship I had with food when I was a kid. Obviously I am older and understand nutrition more now, and I do weigh myself every month or so to make sure I'm not fooling myself and restricting in the name of eating intuitively, but so far it's worked really well, and it feels so freeing not to have my head taken up with numbers anymore.

So yeah - it might be more possible than you can imagine at this point :)

Melissa said...

I don't know if this will be comforting or even more upsetting, and don't get me wrong, I do know exactly what you mean--it is such a struggle to feel "normal" about food and weight, and I've been recovered for 10 years!

However, being able to eat a fluffer nutter (or probably any such childhood favorites) without worrying about calories/nutrition/etc. is probably something that the majority of adults in our society would worry about, even those who've never had an eating disorder, just because diet culture is so pervasive. So your inability to thing about that sandwich without those thought creeping in actually might not be ED-related. Just...America in 2011-related.

hm said...

Dunno if this helps- but at the health food store I found marshmallow fluff made out of rice syrup rather than corn syrup- a bit less sugar and a bit more healthy- found it for my son who is allergic to corn syrup but desperately wanted smores!!! Of course there is also healthy peanut butter, healthy bread... ways to get that taste but in a healthier manner.

But I get that that's not REALLY what this post was about anyway- it's more about feeling sad that you even care about how healthy that snack is, instead of just enjoying it...

Hmmm... having more thoughts...

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel, I worry what others think because I snack so dang much. But it's what our bodies need....and it's not like the rest of the world really has a perfect idea of what "healthy eating" is.

Renee said...

This post made me smile because I had never heard of, seen or consumed a flutter nutter sandwich before I went into treatment in the US - I'm from Canada, we don't have fluff up here. I wish I could say the same thing about EDs.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I would counter that [the average American woman's inability to eat a fluffer nutter sandwich without worrying about nutrition and calories] doesn't mean when an EDer does it it's normal, but that America has a slightly disordered view of food in general.

While I'm not confident about getting there any time soon myself, I believe it's possible to consume for fuel with an eye for nutrition and balance without worrying about the occasional treat.

Lauren said...

This reminded me of my own (and similar) favorite after-school snack: graham cracker-cake frosting "sandwiches" -- SO good.

And, yes, funny how when we were kids, all we wanted was the seemingly rule-free world of adulthood. And now, blessed and cursed with maturity and responsibility, all we crave is the carefree world of childhood. {sigh}

Louise said...

hmmm we dont have these in Ireland at all... would love to try them tho!
I know the feeling of missing that mindset. I feel like I am recovered now, but as someone has already said, I think its the culture we live in now that makes it impossible for anyone to try not to count or at least be aware of calories. I suppose that was wat was so good about the innocence of childhood... we were oblivious up to a point. Although its getting less like that for children now. With all the healthy eating campaigns in schools (which I can understand the principles for), children are becoming more aware of "good" and "bad" foods. Perhaps we are making them a bit too aware now though!

Colleen said...

This is such an interesting post. But I think our innocence when it comes to food (and lots of other things) naturally leaves us as we grow up, regardless of whether or not we have had an eating disorder. I don't know ANY woman in her twenties and above (or even teens!) who doesn't at least contemplate her food choices a LITTLE bit. It's said but true.

Anonymous said...

Have never liked marshmallow anything except in rice krispie treats but this reminded me about being a kid and being hungry and just taking out a package of flour tortillas and eating 3 or 4 of them heated on the stove burner, one after another, with butter on them till I wasn't hungry anymore and then I would run off and play.

Or eating an entire 7 ounce bag of potato chips every day after school as a "snack" in high school with my weight in the 90s and not worrying about the calories at all (and it wasn't a binge--it was a "snack!")

It took a lot of calories to tide me over till dinner way back when, and although I'll concede that I used a lot of refined starches, fried "junk" foods and sugar in my "snacks", I too had a profound innocence about it.

I started to put on weight as a sophomore in college--around the same time as I had an unpleasant experience with unsolicited male physical contact so I'm not sure what triggered getting bulimia, the weight gain or the "feeling up" experience....

But that was almost 30 years ago and although I wouldn't be classified as bulimic anymore, I am still weird around food. I miss that innocence and mourn it. Thanks for writing this.

Cammy said...

"I'm not missing a sandwich, I'm missing a mindset."

Very, very well-put. As always.

Rachel said...

"Dunno if this helps- but at the health food store I found marshmallow fluff made out of rice syrup rather than corn syrup- a bit less sugar and a bit more healthy- found it for my son who is allergic to corn syrup but desperately wanted smores!!! Of course there is also healthy peanut butter, healthy bread... ways to get that taste but in a healthier manner."

sorry HM, but this comment really bothered me. unless, like your son, someone is suffering from actual allergies, there is absolutely nothing wrong with regular marshmellow fluff! our bodies won't be able to tell the difference between organic rice syrup and regular white sugar (although i'm pretty sure the rice syrup stuff won't taste quite as good)to our bodies, it's energy. glucose. it doesn't matter. and going out to buy 'special' marshmellow fluff seems pretty eating-disordered to me.

hm said...

Rachel- It is not a difference between sugar and rice syrup- it is a difference between high fructose corn syrup and rice syrup- and there IS a big difference. Research it.

Rice syrup is made from NATURAL ingredients rather than engineered.

My other son, with no allergies at all, also prefers the rice syrup fluff over regular marshmallows. It's actually delicious.

I take offense not at you calling me eating disordered- struggling w/a disorder is why I visit this blog (hello)- but at you calling a preference for natural/organic food over crappy manufactured fake food "disordered."

I go out of my way to purchase all kinds of organic stuff- (Trader Joe's, anyone?)- It is more expensive, but it tastes better and is better for your body.

Does that mean I'm saying it's "bad" to buy food that ISN'T organic or natural? No. I never said that. We have our share of that stuff in our pantry too.

So I choose organic marshmallow fluff and you don't. Who cares?

I don't criticize you for your choices, and I don't appreciate being criticized for mine.

I do apologize for my comment "bothering" you, but I think you are projecting your own insecurities in being bothered- I did not criticize nor was I being disordered in my suggestion.

Rachel said...

i guess we all have to decide for ourselves what level of freedom we want to achieve. for me, personally, i want to be able to see all foods as being okay, and i think that feeling the need to buy everything organic and whole and raw or whatever is still bondage. am i saying you should eat marshmellow fluff and nothing but marshmellow fluff all day long? no, definitely not. but having some REAL marshmellow fluff every now and then (or every day for that matter) isn't going to hurt you. i think a lot of people in "recovery" settle for something slightly less than true freedom (all the bloggers who post millions of pictures of their elaborate oatmeal creations, review all of the newest protein bars, talk about whole foods the way most teenage girls talk about the mall) and 'maybe' they aren't hurting their bodies, but i personally see it as obsession just the same. and i think what bothered me the most about your reply to carrie was that you suggested she try to get the taste of her mother's fluffernutter snack with 'healthier bread', 'healthier peanut butter' when there was nothing wrong with it in the first place. if you like that better, great. but if you're doing it to lessen anxiety around eating, you're just appeasing your eating disorder.

hm said...

Rachel- You didn't hear me.

I do not feel a need to "buy everything organic." You are putting words in my mouth.

And there is a difference between lessening anxiety around eating (which eating something frivolous like marshmallow fluff, in WHATEVER form, would NEVER do) and trying to eat healthfully. If I was trying to lessen my anxiety, believe me, I'd avoid both. This is about finding healthy, fun alternatives to things.

IF you want to. Again, I'm not saying you're "bad" if you don't. I'm not saying junk food is "bad." I'm not saying corn syrup is "bad." I'm not saying jet-puff fluff is "bad."

I'm just saying there are healthier alternatives IF YOU WANT THEM.

I grew up in a day and age where my parents were not actually aware of the difference between manufactured and natural foods. Cheap bread was a good deal simply because it was cheap. Same with canned fruit. They thought it was just as good for you as the regular stuff. My suggestion for healthier foods was based on the assumption that Carrie and I are from the same generation, and perhaps had a similar experience there.

We know better now, and can eat healthier. Nothing disordered about that.

AGAIN- I am NOT saying canned fruit and cheap bread and jet puff fluff are... "BAD." I am NOT saying this. Simply saying there are alternatives, IF YOU WANT THEM.

Carrie Arnold said...

Okay, let's everybody simmer down.

We are all entitled to have AND EXPRESS our own viewpoints here. There is a place for respectful disagreement, but the emphasis needs to be on "respectful."

I'm not offended by your suggestion although the presence of HFCS in marshmallow fluff isn't what skeeves me out. It's the sugar in general, which you can't really avoid and still have marshmallow fluff. ;)

I'm glad you raised your concerns, and I think that's a great step. You have every right to comment and question. However, we all have our issues and we're all dealing with them in our own way.

hm said...

Carrie- I get what you're saying about the sugar factor being a trigger. To you, to Rachel, or to anyone else- I do apologize if my intensity came off as disrespectful or rude. I do believe each person finds their own "road to recovery"- and we need to SUPPORT one another on the journey. The goal of ed sufferers is the same: to learn to, at least, get along with food, or to, at best, enjoy food. To not be slaves to our ed.

The truth is, I felt scared and frustrated, Rachel, to hear my comment labeled "disordered" when, in fact, I am working very hard to be healthy. There is more than one road to freedom. Our roads are apparently different, but I'm sure our destination goal is the same.

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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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