Food as Medicine
“Anna, You haven’t been taking all of your medicine this week have you” My nutritionist sometime says when I’m down—instead of up—on the scale. Though she isn’t talking about the type of medicine you would find at a pharmacy or a medicine cabinet but the type you find in the pantry. Yes, my nutritionist and I refer to food as ‘medicine’ instead of referring to it as food. Why?
Mention the word ‘food’ to someone in the throes of an eating disorder and, almost immediately, some form of negative response will arise whether its anxiety, fear, disgust, etc. Food and anything to do with it usually is quite unnerving to those struggling. So the goal of looking at food as medicine, is that it might help someone along who is having trouble redefining their relationship with food.
Medicine is not something that everyone always wants to take, but people take it because of the good it does for them. For diabetics, it helps them regulate their sugars. For depressed individuals, it can even out and elevate mood. For people with heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer, it works to prevent life-threatening events. Sure, most diabetics probably do not want to prick themselves multiple times a day to check and administer insulin while other medicine takers do not want to deal with the potentially icky side-effects, but they do it because they know it is what they need to do.
An individual recovering from an eating disorder needs to eat and they need to eat multiple times a day. Just like someone might need to take a pill or give a shot a few times a day, a meal plan usually serves as the instructions for taking your medicine (food). Follow the meal plan and follow it every day. Only following it some days will not prove as effective. Sure, the side effects of getting used to eating and/or getting used to eating regularly can be uncomfortable and—well—suck. But, just like with most every other medication, the benefits outweigh (no pun intended) the side-effects. Despite that fact being so incredibly difficult to believe, re-feeding really does help to get an individual back to health.
Have you taken all of your medicine today?