I have always been a picky eater but there aren’t many people who know the extent of my problematic relationship with food. I can be very obsessive about what I eat and I still don’t really like to eat in front of people I don’t know well. When I was younger I’d eat one particular thing for ages and then I’d go off it completely. Until my early twenties I wouldn’t eat anything red, I still have no idea why! I went through a phase of eating very little, I’d have an apple for breakfast, nothing for lunch (or sometimes a chomp (remember those?) if I was really hungry). I’d eat some dinner but I usually wouldn’t finish, saying I’d had a big lunch and wasn’t hungry. I’d pre plan what I was going to say I’d eaten so that I could answer convincingly. When I couldn’t get away with that because I’d been at home all day I’d hide food. It was always a running joke in my family that I’d try to feed our dog anything, my parents had discovered that I was doing this when the dog didn’t touch the raisins I tried to feed him (luckily he obviously knew that they’re toxic to dogs).
I got better at hiding food, I’d spit it into tissues and flush it down the toilet or hide it in my bag and throw it away outside of the house. Sometimes I’d take a layer of rubbish off the top of the kitchen bin and hide food below. I even didn’t wear my jumper at school unless I was freezing as I’d heard somewhere that shivering burns calories. I didn’t recognise any of this as a problem. Very occasionally (probably a total of about three times) I made myself sick. Somehow that was different, I could see it was a problem and I stopped. It took me years to see that I had struggled with an eating disorder.
I have both over eaten and dieted since then but have had to use an app that counts calories when dieting as it helps me to make sure that I am maintaining a healthy food intake. Becoming vegetarian 9 years ago definitely helped my eating. Having meat on my plate always put me off eating and made it easier to leave my food. The real change to my eating has come since meeting Paul. He has increased my confidence massively, I know that he loves me whatever size or shape I am. He’s also been amazing at gradually helping me to increase the diversity of my food intake and at providing me with delicious healthy meals. I’ve also been able to talk to him about my previous eating issues and he’s very good at keeping me in check.
This week I realised that I have been starting to obsess again. Since being diagnosed with gestational diabetes I have to test my blood sugar four times a day and I was beginning to obsess over the numbers. Paul mentioned to me that he was worried that I wasn’t eating enough and I had to admit to him that I was finding it hard. We saw the endocrinologist last week, she also works in the diabetes clinic and so she looked at my sugar levels. She said they’re fine and nothing at all to worry about. I should have felt reassured. But she also mentioned that if they were consistently high, the chances of stillbirth would increase. Every time I consider having a snack or eating anything even vaguely naughty, I hear those words in my head and think that I shouldn’t.
Of course it is also important that Pip has enough food so I’m left in this situation where I feel guilty if I eat and guilty if I don’t! I’m trying to be really sensible, making sure that any snacks I have are healthy, eating enough but not over indulging. I’m keeping a food diary, the hospital hasn’t asked me to but I find writing everything down reassuring. Maybe because it gives other people the chance to check that I’m doing it right so I don’t have to shoulder the responsibility alone.
I am counting down the days until Pip arrives and trying my best to remain sane. I had a big cry about it all yesterday and admitted to Paul how conflicted I’m feeling about food but I think that’s a good step towards making it better. I wasn’t sure whether or not to write this blog post. I don’t want anyone to feel bad about not spotting my problems when I was younger, I was very good at hiding how bad it had become but I think that openness and honesty are the best way to deal with this sort of problem. I used to keep it all in and the problems grew. The more you shine a light on internal struggles the easier they are to fight.