A week ago, my therapist gave me a new assignment: to keep a food journal. I figured I’d never be able to do such a thing, and certainly it would be difficult to be honest with her, as I never had been honest with her or Dr. P in the past about what I ate.
I started right away. Supper: Celery. Well, I was telling the truth, wasn’t I? Then I qualified it with, “I wasn’t hungry, plus there wasn’t anything that interested me in the fridge.” There, now I’d given my excuse. But my therapist wanted more than that; she wanted feelings. How could I express feelings when I had difficulty simply writing down particulars about what I ate?
But as time went on, I found that I kept accurate records of my food consumption. I generally wrote the amounts of each food I ate, as well:
“12:30 lunch – I am not very hungry – Energy bar
3:30 snack – carrots and the rest of the celery (probably too much), 2 dried apricots, 1/3 C FF cottage cheese with 1T sour cream
I DO NOT WANT TO EAT SUPPER. But [my therapist] is going to read this so I better eat something more than vegetables.
Supper – can of sardines (in water), rice cake with peanut butter, 6 Brussels sprouts, raisins, glass of milk – I am full but not as full as I was afraid I would be.
2-1/2 hours later I still feel full and disgusting and wish I never ate supper.”
I described my kitchen:
“MY KITCHEN is smaller than the average bathroom, smaller than my own bathroom. Seeing as the microwave takes up a chunk of counter space, I am left with only a space of 24 inches by 25 inches counter space. I store things on top of the stove, including a pan and plastic silverware, and move them when I need to use the burners. I have pans hung up over the stove. I store baking pans in the oven. I have never used the oven. I use the microwave all the time. I store food on top of my tiny refrigerator, and canned food inside the refrigerator because I have no place else to put it. I have a broom closet in which I store dog food and my vacuum cleaner. I have ample cabinet space and two good sliding drawers. In one drawer, I can fit all my silverware and various utensils. In the other, I store tape, scissors, markers, twist ties, my cell phone charger, and so on. I have very few plates, so I use paper plates and microwave bowls instead of the glass ones I have. Glass can break, and I worry frequently about the consequences of ending up with broken glass shards on the floor, for many reasons.”
I wrote, “I eat a lot, too. I think I eat a lot. Sometimes, I feel like I’m very, very fat. I look at myself and I look fat. Other times, I seem skinny. I like the idea of being skinny and looking like a boy, but I don’t think I really look that much like a boy after all. It’s very confusing.”
Finally, I started worrying that the fact that I was writing this journal for my therapist, and writing it for the purpose of proving to my therapist that I actually do eat, and was in fact watching what I ate because of this, that this project was making me overly dependent on my therapist, or at least dependent on her in a way that displeased me. When I showed her the journal yesterday, she said this wasn’t true. Her answer didn’t satisfy me. I worry that I will depend on her reading my food journal every week. She says I am writing it for myself. At this point, I am not writing it for myself. I am writing it to prove to her that I eat, and to show her what I eat, and to try to please her. That’s damn stupid if you ask me. That’s asking for trouble.
Friends visited. I haven’t had a friend over in god-knows-when, and now I’ve suddenly had a handful visit. This is something new. I’ve had to eat like a “normal” as we’ve gone out to eat! Eeks! Now, that is hard. I actually eat out with them.
I’m really not restricting all that much now, not in my opinion; I am maintaining my weight and not losing, so it isn’t a big shock to my system to eat out, but I do feel incredibly stuffed afterward. When I was restricting, I couldn’t eat out at all; I couldn’t eat a normal meal at all; now I eat meals more or less. It was when Dr. P threatened to hospitalize me that I decided to maintain rather than lose, back in July after graduation, and I’ve been maintaining ever since, despite what Dr. K’s scale has read.
Every time I was at the restaurants, I was particularly preoccupied with what everyone else had ordered. I tried to keep track of their food, and tried to remember it so that I could write it down in my food journal. I tried to remember the condiments, too.
I’ve been brushing my teeth more lately. I don’t like tasting my food any longer than necessary. I don’t like having bits of food in my teeth.
I’ve also been preoccupied with my bowels. This is common for people who have ED’s. When I was restricting, I didn’t shit. Period. It’s still an issue.
I kept telling my therapist, “Surprise, surprise!” because for a change, I had cooperated with her! When I showed up at therapy with my food journal, I had it in a box (my knitting box) wrapped in ribbon that had “puzzle pieces” on it, with a photo of Puzzle (my dog, for those of you that are reading my blog for the first time). I had the whole thing typed out on special paper. It was really tough to get it to print. It was also illustrated with a photo of Puzzle printed right on the page. I let my therapist open the box herself and untie the bow. She thought the puppy photo was cute, and she read the whole journal aloud and commented. Every time she didn’t approve of what I’d eaten, she made a face.
Before class tonight, I purchased a new box for the journal. It is sort of a small metal box with a lock on it. There’s a little pocket inside. The journal just fits. Inside, I’ve sewn a piece of puzzle ribbon to hold a little fork, that symbolizes food. Under the journal is a keychain digital photo frame I’ve had lying around for a while. I loaded it up with photos. One of the photos is of me at 197 pounds. I don’t think I put a key on the keychain. I don’t know what to put on the chain.
I decorated the journal with stenciled page numbers. I also stenciled in the day of the week on each day, with pretty colored pens. In this week’s entries, I’ve inserted more photos, for instance, a photo of sardines, and a photo of an apple on a tree.
A waste of time? I’m not sure. I got so involved that I forgot all about my bedtime meds. I wasn’t even tired. Before you know it, it was 4am. Then I remembered my meds, and took them. Uh oh. I never went to bed. I am drinking my morning coffee right now, and talking to you.