“You can’t live in this house and not eat meat. It’s just not possible” my mother shouted at me from the couch.
“Can to” I countered as I crossed my arms across my chest like a defiant two-year-old.
“All the cavemen had to eat was meat, and they were just fine,” meaning, of course, discussion over. Rhea loses, mom wins.
Only, here’s the thing, Rhea does not lose. In fact, the only loser here is ED.
After my EGD procedure, it was suggested that I lessen the amount of meat in my diet; as it is difficult for my body to digest, and, therefore, only contributes to my frequent bouts of rumination. My body is working so hard to digest the meat, that it pushes the rest of the food up my esophagus. Wonderful visual, right? Well, between my body working so hard to digest the food, it has also been trained, horribly so, by my purging, to involuntarily bring my food back up on its own.
So, after my mother’s beaming words of encouragement which, I feel, compared me to a hairy, fur-wearing caveman, I became vegetarian. Upon hearing the meatless news, my therapist was just as thrilled as my mother to hear about my decision. Her skepticism, however, was warranted, I suppose. Someone with an eating disorder saying they are omitting an entire food group for “health reasons” sounds a lot like eating disordered behavior. Even I can acknowledge that it could sound that way, because, if there is one thing ED likes, it is altering one’s diet under the guise of health while simultaneously assuring others that there is nothing unusual about their eating. In addition to my therapist’s concern over my vegetarianism being a disguise for ED’s behaviors, she was also worried that the lack of protein would exacerbate my anemia. After many protests, promises to eat more protein-rich foods, and to take iron supplements, she, begrudgingly, accepted the fact that I was going to do it…still skeptical that I was opening the door for ED and inviting her to tea.
Unfortunately for ED, I did not open the door for her. That is not to say that I have not restricted or purged in the month since becoming a vegetarian—that would be exceedingly hypocritical of me to say—but, I can say that it has compelled me to become more mindful and aware of what I am eating. I live with my parents, who make meat filled dishes, so I am now responsible for making my own meals. I can eat the healthy foods that I want while avoiding the foods that trigger me; at least until I feel ready for them. This accountability for my own meals means that I have to work harder to fight ED when she is telling me that it is ok to engage in behaviors. Due to this, I have had to develop more effective coping strategies and meal planning skills. I feel that this whole rumination/vegetarianism thing has been God’s way of making me learn to develop better methods to fight ED. Without it, I may not have continued down the path to recovery; ED loves complacency. What I am trying to say is this, my health had made me take a more pro-active stance towards recovery. It made me realize that the only way to defeat ED is to take her out before she can convince me of her lies again; easier said than done, I know. The important thing is this; you know that you are worth living and living well. You know ED is not healthy. And you know you are stronger than ED. Keep fighting for your recovery; you are worth it!