Deconstructing Food

I started with Freud and metaphorical mouths, and ended up at “comfort food”. I was being far too complicated. We can keep this deconstruction simple. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the associations.

Comfort Food. Pretty self explanatory. We give a crying baby milk and a heartbroken teenager, maltesers. Chicken soup for flu and macaroni cheese for winter days; custard and crumble for Sundays, and chocolate for when you’re down.

Bulimia links in to comfort. It’s about feeling bad and wanting to feel better. Macaroni cheese and chocolate topped the binge food bill.

Anorexia resists comfort: it’s all about punishment. And the message starts early.

Sweets are a reward for good behaviour; if you misbehave, you’re not likely to find your favourite food on the menu. We use food differently now that we’ve got enough. It’s got all tangled up with deserving and non–deserving. It’s often dished out on a bizarre kind of merit system rather than by need.

Anorexia plays on insecurity – and links the two. Bad people don’t deserve nice food. Self punishment is a strange form of self discipline.

Hunger strikes are about punishing other people. They’ve been using them for years.

Resistance is a powerful statement – with multiple translations: ‘please listen because I haven’t got the words to say what I’m feeling’, or ‘watch out I’m so angry that I want to hurt you’; ‘go away’ or ‘pay attention, please’ -

My eating disorder was screaming them all.

Control fits in to the hunger strike theme. It’s a way of manipulating people – I will stop eating and make you listen to me. Probably subconscious; but no less powerful.

Saying no thank you to the offer of a second piece of cake is commonly taken as an indication of self control. It’s an asset in modern society.

I could go on….

Nurture and nourishment, and the fundamental purpose of food -to help us grow and develop. Not something anorexia’s particularly interested in.

…But I’ve proved my point.

Food is not just what sits in front of you at the table. It’s no longer just a need that keeps us going and growing. It’s become representative and associative and analogical -

And it’s not surprising that it sometimes gets used in the wrong way.

Re-learning how to eat.

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