An Open Letter To Food: I’m Sorry And Thank You

Trigger warning: Disordered eating

Food. You’ve always been the biggest comfort in my life, forever being the substance that I’ve used to find solace in my darkest times. No matter what, I’ve always known that you would be there, waiting to make me feel whole, helping me to escape and block everything out.

I first realized that I used you for comfort at the age of five. My father wanted me to watch a football game with him, and I knew that I’d be able to sit and watch it if I had a big bag of sweets to stop myself from feeling bored.

Since then, I have struggled with you. I’ve either eaten too much or not enough, in a continuous cycle of binging and restricting. There have been countless occasions where I’ve cried because the only activity that I wanted to do was eat, but it was against my rules. I spent my teenage years formulating these rules, segregating food groups into “good” or “bad,” forever feeling like a failure after eating a single slice of white bread. You were consistently on my mind, sometimes at the front, seldom at the back nevertheless, always there. I used to go without lunch at school, in turn spending my lunch money on a bounty of sugary foods, waiting until I was in the comfort of my room to feast upon them. I’d be riddled with embarrassment as I paid the cashier for my mass of sweets, always sure that her eyes were boring into me, aware of the binge that I was about to encounter. When I got home, I would scour the kitchen, hunting for mountains of chocolate bars and crisps to hide within my pockets. I’d camp in my bedroom, gorging on my snacks while my stomach would cry out, crippled with pain. No matter how sick I felt, I would profusely eat until I was surrounded by empty wrappers and shame. The next day, guilt would rain upon me, and so I would vow to restrict my eating. I’d angrily tell myself that I wasn’t allowed to eat all day and I’d promise to comply while secretly praying that I would never have to eat again. Yet as the day nodded to a close, I’d give in, filling my evening with more binging, continuously promising myself that I would do better tomorrow.

This cycle of abusing you persisted for years. Even now, at the age of 21, I still struggle at times. Thankfully, though, I’m getting so much better. I’m learning to have both a loving and appreciative relationship with you, one that allows me to feel a mixture of both joy and freedom. I’ve finally understood that you can be either my best friend or my enemy and that it entirely depends on the way that I treat and view you. Ultimately, I’m learning to treat you with love and care, expressing appreciation to you in all of your forms. I eat you in a way that fuels and fulfills me, allowing me to live and curate my life in a way that feels wholesome. I enjoy every part of you now—both the complex and most simplistic, the bits that are saturated and unsaturated with love, the highs and the lows. Alas, I’m discovering a balance with you that enables me to appreciate all that you have to offer without being riddled with guilt and worry if I eat ‘too much’.

To conclude, I want to express my gratitude. You were there for me throughout my teenage years, a time that I struggled with my heart and mind. Although our relationship was toxic, it was a relationship that provided me with comfort at a time that I needed it the most. I’m mostly sorry for the times that I beat you and taunted you with guilt and restrictiveness—all you ever wanted to do was provide me with nourishment. Most of all, I want to thank you for giving me the energy to live my life how I want to live it. Our relationship has gone from toxic to one that’s filled with gratitude, appreciation, and respect. You give me the power to be filled with enthusiasm and vitality. For this, I am beyond grateful. Finally, I have the energy to enjoy all of the enchanting adventures that this life has to offer. I know that you are the root cause for all of these things, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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