It's time to be completely and unabashedly real for a second — yes, I'm still struggling with an eating disorder and yes, there are triggers that probably seem like small things to someone who isn't struggling with this. I have days where I eat like I don't have an eating disorder, but those days are what I've termed "the really good days."
Quite honestly, most days I'm still just hoping that I can eat enough so that my body doesn't feel worn out or over-exhausted from not having enough calories. It's been quite the challenge, and some days, I fall short. But, I do the best I can in those moments to remind myself that healing is a journey, and not all journeys look the same or line up with everyone else's in the same way. It's really, really challenging, but I'm doing the best I can to try to remind myself to be a little bit kinder to myself.
With that being said, though, here is a list of 10 things that trigger my eating disorder and lead to not-so-great days with food.
1. Fast food
The high number of calories in fast food items (displayed brightly on the menu) make this my number one trigger when it comes to things that can set off my eating disorder.
2. The scale
Or, more specifically, beginning to obsess over the number on the scale. That one is going to take quite a bit of work to be able to break.
3. The phrase "thin-spiration"
If I hear that phrase one more time, I think my head will actually explode. Dealing with an eating disorder is hard enough without having your biggest fear of not being societally "thin enough" shoved in your face.
4. Cute bras that only fit smaller chest sizes
OK, so maybe this one is just a pet peeve in general, but women over a certain cup and band size deserve to have cute bras, too! The fact that cute bras in bigger sizes are hard to find just fuels my "I have to be thinner to be prettier" side of my brain — I rationally know this is far from true and a super unhealthy way to think, but it doesn't make it easier.
5. "Safe" foods
This one might be super specific to how I developed an eating disorder — there are foods that are super low in calorie and fat content that I consider "safe" foods to eat. By that I mean that I don't get horrible food guilt from eating them. I realize rationally that having foods that are "safe" foods probably does more harm than good because that instills in me the idea that there is good and bad food. I realize that there's just food, neither good or bad, but this is just another mindset that needs to be changed.
6. Junk food
Along with the "safe" foods that don't give me horrible guilt about calorie counts, junk food is a big trigger for me in terms of my eating disorder. I'm not at the place in my recovery where I'm super comfortable eating junk food, but I hope that one day I'll be able to eat a candy bar without internally panicking at the calorie count.
7. Weight-loss commercials on TV
I'm already struggling with trying to accept and love myself exactly as I am — these commercials just make that process that much harder.
8. The dieting aisles at grocery stores
When I was in deep with my eating disorder, I would skip meals and use dieting nutrition bars as meal substitutes. That is super unhealthy, and I would never recommend anyone ever try that. That's one lesson I've learned the hard way.
9. Bikini season
Need I say more?
10. Celebrities pushing "get thin quick" gimmicks
Here's looking at you, appetite suppressant lollipops.
If you need help recovering from an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorder Association at 800-931-2237.