Triggers and Eating Disorders

February 22, 2011

I’ve been eating three meals a day plus snacks with no qualms for probably three years now, disregarding a stressful week here or there.

But even now going to bed hungry for me is a definite trigger. I go to sleep with that gnawing feeling in my stomach and wake up thinking, “I remember this, I can do this. I don’t have to eat breakfast.” Soon after it’s “I don’t have to eat lunch,” and “I don’t have to eat dinner.”

Also I find counting calories dangerous. I can do the weight-watchers points without it becoming a contest of how little I can eat, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the estimative quality of the counting. But as soon as I start counting the calories, the first day I might eat 1800, but by the second or third I’m struggling to get 1000 in. If I don’t turn it around it just keeps sinking lower, along with my mood.

I don’t like the way food becomes everything when I restrict. It’s like I suddenly stop noticing everything else in my life because I’m focused on trying to eat or trying not to eat. Even if I were to become the most beautiful person in the world, it wouldn’t be worth it to me.

Some people find measuring their food triggering; it doesn’t seem to affect me.

For the first year I made a vow not to diet. I knew it was too early, and I did gain some weight. It was very very difficult for me, but then again, so was everything. Now I can handle it, I just make sure to keep my methods healthy. It’s an “eat this rather than that” method. . It’s more about a mindset of taking care of yourself, getting enough sleep, eating enough fruits and vegetables and making sure what I put on my skin and in my body isn’t full of a ton of chemicals.

My much-thinner-than-me sister-in-law likes to mention everywhere she goes whether someone is fat or thin and how thin she’d like to be. She talks about this at the dinner table. Sometimes I have to get up and leave. I’ve told her before that it’s inappropriate to talk like this but she doesn’t stop.

As a side note, I remember I used to be very apprehensive about food. I don’t know if it was the paranoia, (I was convinced everything was contaminated. The air, our food, the water…) but for example once I cut an avocado and found a worm in it. After that I didn’t eat avocados for months.

Maybe it was the thought-intrusions… I would get images, very powerful ones of various bad things in my mind’s eye, whether it was something morbid or just something to reinforce my contamination fear. I used to try to ignore them but it seemed my regular vision was no where near as powerful.

Perhaps the change in my fears occurred along with the change in my self-image. As I started to take recovery into my own hands and see some progress, with time I began to see myself as a capable person rather than a person to which all sorts of bad things happened to, and my phobias began to control me less and less.

Also, did I mention this took years? Be patient with yourself! It’s worth it.

I never got definitive answers to combat my fears of contamination, but that’s the thing about these kinds of phobias: the facts don’t matter. They never did to begin with. I believe it’s our insecurities it takes root in. I simply no longer worry about these things, and I’m glad.



  1. Thank you for this post. Still dealing with my own ED at the moment, I can deeply identify with everything you’ve written here. Paranoia about food is very common in people with/recovery from EDs; I freak out about contamination, “false” ingredient lists, altered nutrition information, incorrect serving sizes compared to listed sizes/calorie counts at restaurants, diet soda secretly not being diet, etc.

    I’m glad you’re seeing progress in your recovery. It’s heartening to see someone struggling but succeeding–hopefully I’ll be able to say the same someday.

  2. I didn’t know the food-paranoia was common. Huh, somehow that makes a difference.

    It’s hard work but you can rest on the other side. Just keep moving forward; the ground is on fire. 🙂

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