“Eat the Damn Burger” : A Look Inside an Eating Disorder
By Maura Preszler
When I was deep in my battle recovering from an eating disorder someone said to me, “Why don’t you just go eat a hamburger.” Or “Eat a damn burger why don’t you.” Another common comment I got was “You’re so lucky you can just eat whatever you want because you need to gain weight.”
Wow, so helpful!
There is a giant misconception in the world of eating disorders in which many people think they are about food. They in fact, are not!
What they are about is control.
I remember the first time I had anxiety about food, which ironically enough happened to be over a hamburger. When my parents would fight and things got violent and ugly my mom would take us out to dinner. We went to a family friendly restaurant about twenty minutes from our home. We went there every time things got bad. I would always order the hamburger on the kids menu. I loved hamburgers. I was just a little girl. I don’t think I even knew about calories and never thought about my weight at this point in my young life. When the hamburger came I just couldn’t eat it. I was riddled with anxiety and felt like I had a pit in my stomach. I was worried about my parents. And I hated the fighting.
I have definitely eaten many hamburgers since that day. But that’s why I don’t really like them. And people use to think it was because I was concerned about calories. Again, so many misconceptions about eating disorders.
Later in 8th grade I developed an eating disorder because I thought I had to weigh a certain number to be considered beautiful. It pains me to even type these words because it’s so incredibly sad that I use to think that and that millions of girls think the same today. I use to weigh myself twenty times a day. I would allow myself one hundred to two hundred calories a day. If I survived the day on one hundred calories I considered it to be a good day. If I had overeaten, which meant three hundred calories, I made sure to punish myself the next day by running more miles and eating more meager portions. I went to bed starving and most nights I couldn’t sleep because my hunger pains kept me awake. My body ached.
I had a pair of khaki J. Crew pants that I would try on multiple times throughout the day. Those pants defined me. They were literally my life. If I felt like I had eaten too much or gained weight, I would immediately try those pants on.
Ah they are too tight. Okay, I need to stop eating for the rest of the day. Or if they were loose I could relax for an hour or two. I was a slave to those pants for years.
It was a horrible life that I thought would make me happy. But it didn’t. It definitely did not. It made me miserable.
Going to therapy helped me discover my true and lasting inner beauty and navigate through the emotions and feelings I was stuffing away though my eating disorder. It wasn’t a magic cure. It was years of tremendous hard work. I still work at it. Sometimes I can hear the lies so loudly, but I have the tools to live in recovery. I have the tools to fight. And I will never stop fighting because I know the truth. I know that restricting calories and losing weight isn’t going to fulfill me. It isn’t going to make me happy.
It’s so hard sometimes to love yourself. And so much easier to look at someone else and give them grace with what they are going through. Why is it so hard to give ourselves grace? Why is it so difficult to see our own beauty?
Also what is beauty? What do you consider to be beautiful? And why does beauty have to be associated with a tall, skinny, blond haired woman in perfect clothes and makeup? Please don’t misinterpret, there is nothing wrong with being tall, skinny and having blond hair.
I think there are so many different variations of beauty. And most importantly, I’m a strong believer that our inner beauty shines forth into our external being. I remember my husband telling me I was beautiful while in labor with my son Pio. I snapped back, Not now. I can’t even go to the bathroom on my own.
That’s what makes you so incredibly beautiful because you are in your most raw and vulnerable state. You are giving birth to our first child. You are literally giving everything you have to him right now. You are beautiful Maura.
Of course I cried. And you know what, he is right. There is so much more to beauty than physical appearance. There is something so exquisitely beautiful about the heart, how one navigates through pain, loss and suffering, how someone sacrifices for another and gives of their very self.
So I’m sitting here in my new favorite coffee shop, wearing a new pair of white J.Crew pants (should moms even own white pants?) and so incredibly thankful for this journey and all that it has taught me and continues to teach me.
My body is beautiful and so is yours.
P.S. You are enough.