Essay Sample About Food Literacy
|📌Published:||17 April 2021|
When asked, when it comes to food, are you literate, illiterate, or somewhere in between, the question is both comical and daunting. Literacy is defined as “competence or knowledge in a specified area”, and my eating disorder and I would answer this question very differently. I’ve struggled with my eating disorder for the past five years, and I’ve learned to separate it from myself. I acknowledge that while I live alongside my eating disorder, we are not one. Through years in therapy, I’ve defused from my eating disoder, recognizing that my eating disorder, or what I commonly refer to as my ED, are separate entities. I hold entirely different values, goals, and experiences with “food literacy” than my easting disorder.
I am willing admit that I am almost entirely food illiterate. I fear food, as I lived with a warped, distorted, and extremely disordered relationship with food for many years. My ED on the other hand, would still be convinced that I am more than literate, having the ability to memorize exact caloric values in any particular food, limiting and restricting my intake based on what I thought I needed to nourish my body, and having spent copious amounts of time analyzing the exact amount of food I’ve had in 24 hours, or longer. And still there's another part of me that feels somewhere in between. As I hold on to everything I’ve learned over the past two years attempting and living in recovery, I have reached a new sense of food literacy, relearning food rules, and gaining a greater sense of autonomy and health through therapy and regular appointments with registered dieticians.
In many ways, I desire to be more literate in food, but it’s a scary, thin line to walk. I am often stunned by new information in my weekly sessions with my current dietician by new information as I continue to unlearn the old, incorrect interpretation of food literacy that I studied for so long. Always, there’s a part of me, my ED, that still fears full recovery.
This past week I attended my first portioning group since stepping down to a partial hospitalization program for eating disorders, after spending six weeks hospitalized in residential programming. This group was a reward for my hard work and determination towards recovery. And yet, the portioning group was an eye-opening experience, seeing how I am still so food illiterate. We worked on grain portioning, practicing with portions of pasta, rice, potatoes, and cereal, but without eating them. Purely for practice. I still experience feelings of fear when I look at an appropriate portion of a plate of pasta. As earth shattering and confusing as it is, I can accept that is just where I am in recovery. I’ve yet to have the opportunity to practice portioning for myself, as all my meals are currently prepared, plated, and served to me according to my meal plan. I have certain amounts of shame and guilt as I write this, deeply saddened for my younger and current self for the lack of appropriate information they were given surrounding food.
While I know my lack of food literacy isn’t my fault, and neither is my eating disorder, I’m a perfectionist who desires to be the best at everything I do. For a long time, being the best concerning food literacy was restricting the most, eating the least, and knowing everything about my food intake. And now I strive for a new kind of literacy, one where I understand that all food is fuel, appropriate portions, and how to safely challenge my eating disorder behaviors on a daily basis.