Life After An Eating Disorder: No, You Can't Have A Bite!
Protect your food
It sounds counterintuitve but to convince my mind that I was really going to let it eat now, until my body was satiated, I had to let it know that I was going to protect its food. For a while I did actually just tell people no. I didn't give them excuses or explain it -- I just said "I'm sorry, no" and moved my plate away. It sounds mean but the ED destroyed any trust your brain had in your body. For years it would send you hunger signals only to be ignored. You are now working on rebuilding that trust.
Allow yourself to eat what you want
This is what Intuitive Eating taught me. If you know that you can eat exactly what you want when you need it then the scarcity issue disappears. This isn't your "last meal" because you will give your body delicious food when it needs it. This is scary at first. Really scary. And I recommend Geneen Roth's books to help you understand and get through this part. (Note: this is not binge eating. It's the opposite of binge eating -- it's being very conscious of what you're eating, why you're eating it, how it tastes, how it feels etc.)
Practice sharing food you don't care about
Again, sounds nuts I know, but it totally helped me. I'd pick a food that I didn't have any emotional attachment to and then offer bites to people. Sometimes I'd reserve a serving for myself back in the kitchen or my car so that I knew there would be some for me if I wanted it too.
Don't deprive yourself
The second you start putting food rules back on what you "can" and "can't" eat or labeling foods "good" or "bad" then the sharing issues come back in full force. I was able to share my cake with Jelly Bean because I already was assured that if I wanted more cake I could have it.
Part of my problem was that my body was truly starving and when you're that hungry of course you're going to get upset when someone takes your food! But even now that I'm not starving anymore, sometimes getting overly hungry can trigger that same response. It's about finding that sweet spot where you can feel your hunger (it's just as bad to never feel hungry as it is to always feel hungry) and yet are not overcome by it.
It's okay to not like sharing your food
Whether it's the germ factor or some other reason, some people just don't like sharing food. And that's all right! There's a difference between being ruled by your ED and hoarding your food and being in tune with yourself and realizing that you just don't like sharing food. If you've tried the five previous things and it still makes you uncomfortable then don't share food. I recommend coming up with a humorous answer rather than slapping people's hands away, though. Something like "Whoops, I already licked the whole thing" or "I failed preschool, I can't share"?
Anyone else get territorial about their food? How do you feel about taking "just a bite" of someone's food? What's your advice for this reader?
Charlotte Hilton Andersen writes at The Great Fitness Experiment, where this post first appeared. If you enjoyed it, please check out her book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything for more of her crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!