My nurse said something really powerful to me this week. When talking about how anxious and guilty I feel around eating, and how anytime I want to eat beyond my set food for the day I have the ‘you’re weak and greedy with no willpower’ record playing, she said to me ‘you’re not greedy, you’re just hungry’.
Such a simple statement yet it got to my core. For me hungry=greedy. There is no distinction between these. I get that food is necessary to live but I have got this entrenched belief that anything beyond my rigid meals and snacks is pure greed and representative of how gluttonous, weak and failing I am. But I’m wrong about this. Hunger is not a sign of anything to do with my value on this earth- it’s simply a (useful) physiologic function that keeps us alive. Ignoring hunger doesn’t make anyone a better, stronger person- eating so that you have enough energy to do real life things demonstrates far more- strength is shown through things like working, studying, socialising, volunteering, reading, laughing, running, swimming, living. Starving is not a admirable skill.
Of course I did argue that sometimes I eat when I’m not hungry and that surely this is jut greed. My nurse had two sensible responses to this: firstly going through my food diaries I’m still not eating enough at meals and therefore I am actually Just Hungry. Secondly, I have had my eating disorder for 20+years now so my body has had a long time in semi-starvation. As a result it’s going to take time for my body to adjust to getting enough food and to not send signals to overeat incase there’s another period of under eating coming up. I need to be patient with this. This is not greed: this is a physiological response that does not say anything about my willpower. I can’t really explain how comforting it felt to have someone fight that negative voice for me and to not judge me for my desire to eat.
So my actions are to increase my intake and to catch my negative thoughts. Not Greedy. Just Hungry.