White toast x 2, butter.
Stewed steak, dumpling, boiled potatoes, baby carrots.
Baked beans, jacket potato, butter, side salad.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
White chocolate ‘Kit-Kat Chunky’.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
…so you don’t just choose from a simple fresh or frozen anymore, there’s: deep-pan, thin crust, stuffed-with-whatever-ya-fancy-crust, there’s even a DESSERT version, a gluten-free version, baguette-shaped ones, flavoured ‘Pringles’, ones made with a tortilla base that claim to be ‘cleaner’ i.e. restrictive (oh hey, did you realise that’s not a pizza you’re eating, but actually an open wrap, sprinkled with toppings)… and probably not last but DEFINITELY not least… (much love to this old friend) a quirky, an inside-out version (calzone).
Pizza has been the platinum end of the food hierarchy for me, when it comes to challenges. Probably for many years actually. I mean, I DID, about a year or so ago, in an attempt to recover at home and improve my relationship with food, buy and eat a pizza. But when I say pizza, I now realise what such a broad term that is today…
It’s no longer a cheesy, breaded family of triangles, full of flavour and loaded with toppings any more – you can now state you’ve bought what says a ‘pizza’ on the box, but because it’s a ‘thin and crispy’ crust, less cheese and a safer choice of scattered vegetarian toppings (when you’re not a veggie), kid yourself into thinking you’ve re-joined the pizza world, ticked it off your fear list. (at least, for me anyway)
With so much variety in the supermarkets – with all types of food, it can be so difficult, for anyone vulnerable to body/health consciousness, not just those with Eating Disorders to resist the options that ‘say’ they’re ‘better’, that sing off ‘less guilt’ and shine off more of a polished halo, than the other things on the shelf. Those ‘better’ things, that are often manipulated versions of what was once such a simple thing, to shave off the calories, which often means shaving off the flavour.
The reason pizza is the topic of today is because it’s something I had the privilege of being able to start to tackle at Monday lunch-time with my dietician. She’s only been here a few months temporarily, and I feel quite sad to see her leave today as she starts a permanent job elsewhere…
…with knowing a couple of weeks ago that she was due to leave, I felt it would be nice to do something a bit ‘different’ as a food challenge and create more of a social occasion – an excuse to chat with her a bit more too before she left. I learnt so much from her – but not as much in terms of the ACTUAL food stuff weirdly enough, more in terms of courage as a woman tackling something brand new, having belief that you can achieve anything if you’re brave enough and knowing that you absolutely CAN if you really want something.
She’s only been in the country a couple of years, and from getting to know her, the fear of how she would cope in a brand new culture, make new friends and generally gain confidence in her ability to adapt to change… it made me realise that even though someone may not have been through the same experience as you, you probably still have a lot more in common that you realise. We all have challenges to face and that scary, inevitable thing called ‘change’. And in many senses, we’re probably all dealing with very similar feelings but under different contexts.
So in this sense, she’s inspired me quite massively. Not only has she taken on the role of a dietician where the actual food is so different in this country (which must be completely bizarre to get your head around when you’re working in the field of Eating Disorders!!), from the day she arrived here she kept up a beaming smile, been open to learn from her clients as well as give the support/knowledge out, and has shared her personal experiences of situations perhaps not related to food that I can transfer similar feelings with.
One thing that made me smile, was her description of the discovery/excitement surrounding a jacket potato! I guess, thinking about it, it’s a weird concept… a whole vegetable baked, smothered in a topping, that us English lot see as completely un-weird… but yeah, it got me thinking.
Anyway, she had suggested she wanted to feel useful just before she left and help me out by taking something from the top of my food hierachy; pizza.
It took me a couple of Asda trips to decide on one, swaying from the thin crust to disclude that ‘guilt’ of what I considered used to (before so many choices available and the Eating Disorder wormed it’s way in) be the ‘standard’, real kind of pizza… to finally, plucking up a bit of umph to think what did I USED to really like, and in an ideal world, food-fear aside, what would I genuinely fancy…
…and as my old favourite, that I remember enjoying at birthday parties and sleepovers when I was younger was ‘pepperoni’, I went for that. No thin crust, it didn’t actually state what thickness (thank god, keep it simple) from the frozen section.
I set up the cutlery in one of the small lounges for both of us, where we ate separate from the busy dining room… I then had a bit of a conflict with using my hands versus the cutlery as my dietician dived in the ‘normal’, practical pizza way. The ‘tidy’, must feel clean part of me (that I recognise, even if it’s not just Eating Disordered, would benefit from being challenged) itched for the safety, neat feel of the cutlery in hand. Less chance of mess and feelings of greed, apparently. BUT I stopped myself in my tracks, asked for a bit of reassurance and then thought no, if I REALLY want to be able to adapt to practical situations – eating on the go, or generally at social occasions where the atmosphere is much more relaxed, it would be helpful to put using hands into practice now.
All I can say is, yeah it felt a bit odd at first, and there may have been the odd spec of tomato on my finger and thumb, but there’s always a napkin waiting in the wings to save the day… I was honestly just distracted by the conversation; and it was then I realised how special it now felt not to be consumed in numbers, equations, that now food was beginning to transform into an experience much more nowadays. The pizza was just the background bunting, the social decoration. Not the main event.
I feel like I’m slowly learning to adapt to situations involving food, rather than let my Eating Disorder manipulate the situation, and dictate what needs to be done in order for the food to feel deserving.
The pepperoni tasted so true as well to my tastebuds and what THEY craved, rather than compromising with a pizza that’s not a pizza because of guilt, or toppings that don’t give me as much pleasure as others.
Next step: ‘Pizza Hut’… ! I chickened out last time, but I feel this is the first, realistic step in getting there. It used to be my absolute faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaavourite. Hence why I think it feels so scary. But I’m proud to be able to say for myself that, for once, that feels something that’s soon to be do-able.
Nope, thoughts around my body image aren’t great at all (I feel like a stuffed turkey wearing a bikini), but to me that’s still a positive sign. I’m feeling what I NEED to feel to get out the other end, and this time I’m talking about it, not brushing it under the carpet. I’m staying patient, for my head to catch up, until I reach that not-so-far-away now set-point weight, and trying to find enjoyment/moments of inspiration/curiosity in the process…