It’s hard to believe apples don’t have a worse reputation. They’re responsible for such travesties as getting Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden, putting Snow White under an eternal sleeping curse, and—if you believe the rhyme—keeping doctors away!
Maybe it’s because they provide us with so many benefits that we’re happy to overlook their association with these events. They’re incredibly nutritious, taste great and can be transformed into all sorts of cakes, tarts, pies and pastries.
So, it appears apples have a lot going for them. It should come as no surprise then that the apple has played a part in my journey to recover from an eating disorder.
We’ve talked a lot about the ED’s ability to take an intelligent, logical person and turn them into a raging bull quicker than you can say: “Should you be eating that?” And while the frequency of my ED outbursts has dropped the closer I come to full recovery, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when the freedom I once enjoyed is hijacked by the illness. I used to be a girl who was firm in her answer to everything—I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t. Now, the simplest decisions can become drawn-out internal battles as I fight to ignore the ED’s rules and routines.
Lately those battles have centred around whether or not it’s okay to eat an apple before breakfast. If you’re a regular here at mindfoodly you’ll know when I’m at work I don’t eat anything until breakfast at 10.30am. (This is one way the ED tries to assert its control over me. Obeying the ED’s rules for when, where, how and what you’re allowed to eat can feel comforting and safe, but the reality is it’s incredibly bad for you—mentally and physically). Until recently this arrangement didn’t bother me too much. But the thing about recovery is the further you progress the harder it is to ignore these ‘comfortable’ situations.
All last week I was dying to eat something before breakfast. I still rely on the security my rigid daily exercise regime provides (something I really need to work on) so it’s not particularly shocking that I feel hungry early in the day. But I’d been getting strong hunger urges earlier than usual and at one point my unsatisfied appetite even had me feeling nauseous. I spent ages negotiating with the ED, trying to find a way that I could eat before breakfast while still obeying its rules. Eventually I knew I needed to call Matt.
He reminded me of one of our favourite sections in Jenni Schaefer’s book about recovering fully from an eating disorder, Goodbye Ed, Hello Me, where Jenni talks about “letting go, having faith and jumping”. Matt pointed out that even though the thought of eating an apple in the morning felt scary, it was only because the ED told me it should. He reminded me of what my dietitian has told us many times: if your body tells you it’s hungry, then eat (this is especially important during recovery—when in doubt, I eat!).
The next day, when my hunger cues hit, I was prepared. As the ED thoughts began to flow I pulled out these facts in reply:
1. I’m hungry and this is what my body wants.
2. It’s bloody fruit! (Thanks a lot all you ‘gurus’ out there making us believe fruit is bad for you!)
And it worked! After a week of hungry mornings I’m happy to say that I ate my apple and it was great! I’m so proud of myself for letting go, having faith and jumping. It’s yet another step closer to trusting my body and its cues.
I can forgive apples for what they did to Adam and Eve and Snow White. But I won’t forgive the ED for making me believe it was wrong to eat an apple whenever the hell I felt like it. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Pink Lady calling my name!