Eating disorders run in my family. My aunt has struggled since she was a teenager, and my younger sister since she was in elementary school. As a result, a healthy, normal relationship with food has never been a part of my life. We have always had scheduled eating times and specifically portioned amounts, only kept certain foods in the house and had to build our lives around my family members’ disorders.
About five years ago my sister was hospitalized, and when she was released the dietary rigidity of our family increased even more. I began to develop a resentment towards healthy, controlled eating. It seemed like it was destroying my sister, taking all my mother’s time and invading my life. My tastes, health and feelings were frequently compromised for her sake. Although I understood that she was sick and that she needed leeway, I felt neglected. I was suffering, but not in the same way as her so my unhappiness was often pushed to the side. As some bizarre form of rebellion, I rejected my family’s hummus and celery for Nutella, twix, Wonderbread. I wanted anything other than what my sister ate, and I developed a really unhealthy relationship with food as a result.
This all worked out pretty well until I turned eighteen and my metabolism began to slow down. I gained about 10 pounds over the course of a year. My discomfort with my own body made me stop and reevaluate my eating habits. I realized it was not the healthy food that was the enemy, but rather the disease that plagued my family. After this epiphany, I began to reaccept a healthy lifestyle and I felt happier and healthier than ever.
That’s not to say the struggles over, that’s far from true. Watching my sister eating nothing but produce still makes me want to eat nothing but junk sometimes, but now I try to pause to think. I remind myself I don’t want a candy bar or soda so much as I want her disorder to be gone, for her not to be sick anymore and most importantly that eating unhealthily doesn’t solve any of these problems. Sometimes it doesn’t work and I find myself eating peanut butter out of the jar, but everyday it gets a little better. However, I’ve still got a long way to go before I find peace with food and my family.