All growing up, I was a foodie. I am extremely thankful that I have a fast metabolism, because I ate three meals a day and snacks every hour or two my entire life. I loved trying new foods. I ate fruit and vegetables almost exclusively all of summer, and was healthy all throughout the year. I had a sense of an iron stomach, the only thing to bother me would be if I ate out at a fast food restaurant twice in one week. I loved spicy food, I loved food from other cultures, I loved seafood, and really just about anything.
When I Started Restricting My Food
The reasons behind my food restriction are two-fold. First of all, anxiety has caused me to experience a decent bit of stomach upset problems. In the high of my anxiety in the winter and spring of 2018, my doctor went as far as to say that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Therefore, the beginning of my food restriction was that I started to not eat foods that were too rich or spicy, and began fearing food that I had never tried. Most of this was just due to the fact that if I ate something that was not going to agree with me I was going to put myself into excruciating pain (coffee I am looking at you!).
The second (and biggest) reason that I restrict my food is my emetophobia. Last winter, due to my large fear of Norovirus (aka the stomach bug, aka the devil), I stopped eating food with my hands. That’s right. I eat nothing with my hands. I cannot even remember the last time I touched food with my hands and then ate it, but it was over a year ago. Everything is eaten with paper towels or silverware. It was at this same time that I stopped eating out. My last memory of eating out was in September of 2017 when I had pizza. Since then I have had nothing that was prepared by a public place.
Most of that I could live with. People restrict their diet all the time due to digestive issues, and not eating out is not the end of the world. The part of my relationship with food that my emetophobia really ruins is how restrictive it truly has made me.
What Food I Restrict and Why
At this point, I eat no fresh fruit that is exposed. If you bought an apple from the store and asked me to eat it, I would laugh in your face. I will eat bananas, oranges (though it is hard to eat those without touching them), frozen fruit (do not ask me why I think this is safe, since others are preparing the fruit, I try not to think of it too much so I don’t restrict that as well), and canned fruit/applesauce. The same goes for vegetables. I will eat veggies if they are boiled or baked (though depending on my anxiety that is questionable). Thankfully, vegetables are baked quite frequently, even if they normally taste better raw. I will never touch lettuce. Lettuce is one of the biggest foods that causes norovirus outbreaks.
Where Does This Leave Me?
I eat a lot of pasta, a lot of sandwiches, a lot of frozen foods, and a lot of snacks. On one hand, sometimes that is helpful to meet my calorie count for the day, which can help me to maintain my weight and hope to one day gain weight back. Yet at the same time, I am a health freak. I love my fruits, vegetables, and meat. Without them, sometimes I feel sluggish and even more anxious. There are also times when I am brought to tears with frustration because my husband will be eating fruit or enjoying a food that is questionable to me. I want to go back to loving food and eating. My struggle with food is infuriating, saddening, and mentally and physically unhealthy. If you are struggling with food in any way, and are doing anything but loving tucking into a good dish because of mental health, please seek help. Food is a gift that is meant to be enjoyed, not matter who you are or what your situation is.