Last weekend, Matt and I visited my Neany (aka my grandmother) as we do just about every week. As I was making cups of tea for everyone I noticed a packet of Jersey Caramels in her kitchen cupboard. The sight of those unassuming little sweets brought memories of pre-eating disorder life flooding back.
I remembered what visits to Neany’s used to be like. Innocent visits where my first port of call was always the pantry and the only thing that could stop me was a big, sloppy grandma kiss. Like the rest of my family, I could never wait to find out what yummy snacks Neany had bought from the supermarket each week. We always knew she’d have the pantry lovingly stocked with her grandchildren’s favourite foods because nothing made her quite as happy as sharing food and quality time with family.
So many of my favourite childhood memories are of spending time at Neany’s house (mostly in the kitchen) while she prepared my favourite snacks and we chatted about our day. So as I stood there in her kitchen, tea utterly forgotten, it made me really sad to realise that it’s been years since I’ve experienced the simple pleasure of snacking with Neany, all because of the ED’s rigid rules and the controlling labels I (and an increasingly large majority of society) place on food and health.
I absolutely adored going to Neany’s as a kid. I would look forward to heading there after school and would often go multiple times every week. Now, it’s become so complicated and wrapped up in so much fear that I sometimes struggle to enjoy myself even once a week.
As she gets older, Neany is starting to forget things more often. While it can be incredibly sad to watch someone you love going through the trials of ageing, in some ways Neany’s increasing forgetfulness is a blessing because it means she hasn’t noticed too much change in my behaviour. But every now and then, she’ll tell me she wishes I would have a biscuit with her and it breaks my heart.
I hate the fact that something so joyful, beautiful and full of love has been ruined. And it’s far from the only pure thing in my life the ED has corrupted. And for what? So I can chase some unrealistic, unachievable ideal of what beauty or health is? No thanks!
Sharing a biscuit over a cup of tea with your grandma should never be labelled anything other than what it is. No one should ever have to justify why they ate a biscuit, make up an excuse for not having one, or feel guilty about having one in the first place.
As a society, we’ve got things so backwards with food and health that we struggle to enjoy the simplest pleasures. Something really needs to change. But I know I have to start with me. That’s why I’m making a commitment (to myself and all of you) to try and worry less about what society says is healthy, and instead start to focus on my own version of health. And you can guaran-damn-tee my version of health will include plenty of tea and bikkies with Neany.