Life with ED: When a dietitian eats a cookie

Have you ever made cookies and not tasted the dough?

Unless you’re one of those people who is hyper concerned about raw eggs – and I can’t blame you salmonella is truly terrible, ask my cousin – it would be hard for me to believe. Cookie dough is simply delicious. Irresistible even.

And cookies fresh out of the oven, the chocolate chips still gooey, how can you resist those? I think nearly every baker tries at least one…it’s good protocol, a taste test, right?

Well the fact is, for many years I never even allowed myself to try one. For many people with an eating disorder it is nearly impossible to even allow a small taste of the dough because…all that butter, sugar, flour, no nutrition label to analyze…who knows what might happen. The few times I did allow myself a spoonful I ended up eating nearly the whole thing and throwing it up later – leaving not only a very unpleasant taste in my mouth, but an intense fear of cookies (they might after all make me fat, or at least that’s what I thought at the time.)

For nearly all of my teenage years and the start of my twenties I fought through this intense love-hate relationship with cookies. And I’m not alone. Many of us who live with ED love to be in the kitchen. To surround ourselves with food, to cook, to bake – often the most delicious smelling foods – but never to eat.

Some teenagers like to shop, some like to watch movies, some like to hang out with their friends…I liked to bake. Sometimes friends joined me in the baking, but primarily I just liked to bake. To exercise my control over food, and prevent it from controlling me. I would spend many Friday and Saturday evenings trying new recipes and then packaging up every last cookie to be shipped and sent out of the house. They were not for me after all.

No cookies were for me.

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That first time you allow yourself to take a bite of a cookie – one you won’t throw up – is both terrifying and magical. It tastes so good, but it takes every ounce of your willpower to not let ED try to remind you what these calories may do to your body (energize it is all!).

But at least for me, that moment of triumph was was quickly ruined by one seemingly innocent comment.

“Aren’t you a nutrition major?”

“Um..yes…” I remember quivering, trying my utmost not to let the cookie resurface.

“Well where do cookies fall in a healthy diet? Do dietitians take cheat days?”

Today I would tell that person that all foods fit. That cookies can be part of any healthy eating pattern. That labeling food as “bad” or “off-limits” only leads to craving, binging, increased restrictions and disordered eating. I would tell them that cookies make me happy and that that is more important than any food log or number on the scale.

Today, such a comment would only lend itself as a teaching moment. But then, then it brought ED straight back into my life.

For many people recovering from ED comments about good foods and bad foods, cheat days and limiting desserts for weight related reasons can undo months of progress.

Today, I still like to bake, I even spent last Sunday making over 200 cookies. I still packaged most of them up and sent them out in 10 little boxes. But unlike ED would do, I kept some. I ate some dough. I even tried two fresh out of the oven…and yes I am a dietitian and by no means was it a cheat day.

 

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