Not FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but sort of! What do I mean when I say that? What is fear of missing an eating experience and what is an “eating experience” anyway? For those of you who may not know what I mean by that, an “eating experience” is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an experience of eating, aka a time when you are eating. These include meals and snacks.
Let’s get to what I mean by the “fear” part of the title. A person who struggles with an Eating Disorder may have an obsessive relationship with any of their eating experiences. Each eating experience has a significant influence on their day and life. There tends to be a desire to control it and a need to have it be perfect. This means that you may feel the need for all of your eating experiences to be exactly as you planned, all the food perfect and nothing to happen that may throw anything off. While this sounds lovely, it is not realistic.
Of course, we all can probably agree that no one wants to go out to a restaurant for dinner, try something new, only to find that you don’t like it. Or maybe you ordered something you already have had, and it wasn’t cooked to your liking. There’s no doubt that that stinks! A person struggling may always resort to foods that they feel are safest; something that they know they like and has very little chance of coming out differently than what was asked for. While there’s nothing terribly wrong with that, it can, and will inhibit you from having new opportunities. Going for the safe meal is an attempt at controlling the experience and avoiding any distress.
Let’s say you did try something different, or your meal wasn’t how you expected. You may decide to send it back, ask for something different or ask for them to make the meal again to your liking. However, a person who struggles with an Eating Disorder likely will not do that. There are many reasons that this may happen, but a likely reason is because by the time that this event happens, the distress shoots up into an unmanageable level. There will be a lot of anxiety and stress and possible tears as a result.
If you’re in recovery, you can probably attest to these struggles as well. You know that it would be unhealthy for you to not have the meal altogether, so you struggle to get it down. Then what? To the Eating Disorder mind, you just ate ALL those calories and didn’t even get any pleasure from it. This is a missed eating experience to the recovering sufferer, or rather a missed POSITIVE eating experience.
If you have a loved one who struggles, you likely already have seen this happen, and probably wrote it off as an over-reaction. Try to recognize that your loved one is already in distress as a result of their Eating Disorder, and try to be there for them. Ask them if there’s something they need, and if you get lash-back, just know it is their Eating Disorder. Once their distress comes back down to a reasonable level, talk to them about what happened and ask how they feel you can help the next time a situation like that occurs.
If this sounds like a familiar experience to you, what can you do about it? I would suggest speaking with your therapist about the situation to figure out what happened and discuss how the situation could be approached differently next time. Also, it’s important to recognize that particular eating experience as exactly what it was; 1 eating experience, 1 meal out of the 28 you’ll have that week. Is it a stinky situation? Sure! As it would be for anyone! It’ll be ok and you can use it as an opportunity for growth for the next time you have a similar experience.
I hope this post was helpful for you. If you have any questions, concerns or requests for future posts, please leave a comment or message me privately. If you know anyone who could benefit from reading this, please share with them!
I wish you calmness on your way to finding your State of Balance!
Binge And Restrict Cycle
Eating Disorder Specialist
Healthy Self Vs. Eating Disorder