Dear Friends, Family Members, and Supporters,
Thank you for your comfort, your empowerment, and your unwavering love.
Thank you for changing some things in your life to help me get through my day just a little bit easier.
Thank you for holding my hand, embracing me, and making me feel like I’m not different, like I’m not bad, like I’m not anything – but me. And that just being me… is more than enough.
Thank you for simply being there when I called your name… and especially for the times when I didn’t know how to ask for help – but somehow, some way – you still knew exactly what I needed.
Thank you not making fat jokes, questioning my every bite, or doubting that what I go through on a daily basis is very, very real.
Thank you for being sensitive to my food choices (and cautious of your own) when I am vulnerable.
And to those I have and still do live with – thank you for learning how to share your kitchen with someone struggling with Binge Eating Disorder.
The Kitchen Isn’t Just A Room
The kitchen can be a safe haven, a kingdom, a warm embrace – or it can feel like a threat, an enemy, a war zone.
And sharing that intimate, chaotic, emotional space with someone else can be overwhelming… to say the least.
To me, the kitchen isn’t just a room. And it isn’t just food that I’m looking for when I step foot on the cold linoleum at 2:00 in the morning. More often than not, I’m looking for an answer in that fridge or on those pantry shelves.
And now, your cereal boxes and spaghetti leftovers are giving me a run for my money.
What is now “our” kitchen has become even harder to navigate. There are shiny invitations EVERYWHERE… but they’re wrapped in caution tape. Warning! Warning!
All you see is food. Me? I see obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. But if I don’t tell you what’s going on… how could you possibly understand?
So, here goes! When it comes to how you and I view the kitchen….
What’s The Difference In How We View Food?
To you – a bag of chips is just a bag of chips. It’s a little treat for your taste buds. It sits on the shelf and you enjoy its company, free of guilt, whenever you like.
But for me, it’s a trigger food
Related Article: The Binge Eating Diaries: Testing My Trigger Food
A trigger food is a food that has developed a deep reward pathway in my brain. It sends off “craving chemicals” that have no reason or logic. It’s a food that I used to binge on and just seeing it can make my heart rate jump up, my hands sweat, and my mind unravel.
Until I’m able to develop the skills I need in order to deal with this food, it’s really helpful for me if it isn’t staring me down, challenging me every night when I get home.
Now, these foods aren’t bad. (There are no bad foods!) They just happen to be a little trickier for me. There’s history there. So, finding a way to eat these foods in feel-good portions and in a mindful manner is something I’m working on. But I’m just not quite there yet.
These foods won’t always have such a strong, chemical hold on me, but right now – they still do.
Ok, so back to those chips – let’s say you bring that bag into our shared kitchen space. My initial reaction: give me, give me, give me. A few seconds later, I think: Oh, no. What are those doing here? I wasn’t ready. This isn’t fair.
Now, I have a choice – do I tell you how I’m feeling or do I stay in my room for the week until they’re gone? I’m embarrassed that a “silly” bag of chips is making me have this reaction. So, I…
- Just stare at it, salivating with envy that your relationship with those chips goes no deeper than the bag itself. To you – it’s food. To me – it’s another roommate you put on the lease but forgot to tell me about.
- “Sneak” handfuls when you’re not looking. Try to cover it up. Blame myself for giving in. Shame myself for taking.Related Article: How to Support Women Who Struggle With Weight
I’ve lost hours of my day having this battle with myself inside of my own head, while you sit on the couch and munch. But how could you know? I haven’t said anything. I haven’t been able to say anything.
Nobody is at fault here. But I do need your help. I just can’t find the words to ask for it…
How can you help me?
When it comes to BED…
First thing’s first – if you just assume that I’m struggling with B.E.D. but I haven’t actually told you, please wait until I’m ready. Please do not confront me until I’m able to roll the words off of my own tongue.
If you suspect that I’m having a difficult time, you could always sit me down for a general heart-to-heart and let me know you’re here for me if there’s ever anything I need. That would make me feel safe and loved. I would really appreciate that.
But until I take the next step on my own, please don’t push me if I’m not there yet. Please don’t take the liberty of labeling me if I haven’t quite figured out what’s going on with my personal relationship with food.
When it comes to food….
If I have openly admitted to you that I struggle with this eating disorder, I’d love it if you asked me which foods I’d rather not have in our shared space.
Let me know, with no judgment, that it’s okay for me to ask you to eat your chips on your lunch break at work instead of at home after dinner.
Even better… would you mind offering to keep them at work or to indulge when I’m not around?
Please know that I’m not asking you to put aside your happiness for mine.
Trust me, I know how much joy food can bring. And it is not your responsibility to remove all of my trigger foods from your world. It’s my responsibility to learn how to deal with these triggers, but while I’m working on that – if you can meet me halfway – you have no idea what that will mean to me.
Now, I have more thing I’d really like your help with – please bear with me! It’s not just about what’s in the kitchen… it’s also about what happens in the kitchen.
When It Comes To Cooking…
You’re in the kitchen. I’m in the bedroom. The smell of your creation has crept beneath my door. I’m in panic mode. I wasn’t ready or prepared. Food hadn’t been on my mind – but now it’s all that I can think about.
Could we talk about a cooking schedule? Or, would you mind just letting me know when you’re about to cook something when I’m home?
Eliminating the element of surprise really helps to put me at ease.
What Can I Do?
I can keep my “feel good” snacks on a separate shelf. These are the foods that I know don’t trigger me… or that no longer trigger me.
I’ll know that if I want something from another shelf, I can help myself. It’s important that I never feel like any foods are off limits. But not having to sift through so many options every time I want a snack – will take off some of the pressure.
Related Article: The Art of Snacking
If you’ve brought something into our shared kitchen space that feels triggering, I can try really, really hard to respond to you instead of react.
I can not shut you out when I’m having a difficult time. I can be honest, open, and accepting of your help.
I can let you know just how grateful I am for all of your support.
And lastly, I can tell you with certainty – that if I have to share a kitchen with anyone… I wouldn’t want it to be anyone but you.
Until Next Time,