“The only people for me are the mad ones….desirous of everything at the same time…” -Kerouac

My eating disorder was always about control. I developed depression, body image issues, and OCD along the way. These have gradually all but disappeared over the course of my recovery. That drive for control, the need to perform and constantly challenge myself, is still alive. Am I mad to be this way?

I was anorexic (restricting sub-type) for 3 years with a strong intention to stay that way. I then spent 3 more years figuring out how to approach recovery, getting slightly better only to relapse again and again. With a bit of therapy and a lot of universal will to become, I spent the next 2 years recovering, teetering often on horrendous relapse. Eventually these frightful episodes diminished in both frequency and severity. And then they stopped almost entirely. A good portion of the end of what I consider my recovery was learning how to eat again. Learning what hunger felt like, and overcoming extreme phobias I had, for example, to chocolate cake. So here we are now. I spent 8 years entrenched in anorexia and recovery, and have been relatively free for 3 years. The main remnant is anxiety when I eat many of the foods that I considered “unsafe.” But I am at a healthy weight, I do not restrict, I am strong and happy. To me, this is recovery.

I am doing a 28 day paleo (no grains, dairy, legumes, sugars, or alcohol) challenge with my gym. It is a bit tricky for someone with my past to engage with such restrictions. However, if I do not, because I am afraid of relapse, then my eating disorder still rules me. I am also drawn to the acknowledgement of the underlying assumptions of paleo -that there is something wrong with the modern food system and the standard american diet.

Already, I find freedom in these restrictions; the knowledge that I will fuel and nourish myself, and can avoid simply those which induce anxiety. Paleo is perhaps extreme, and after this month I will of course add back in many of the restricted foods. But I must wonder, if I had eaten this way my entire life would I have developed an eating disorder in the first place? Are eating disorders a stress response that emerges not just due to western media, but also because of the standard western diet?

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