1/2 banana - how my relationship with this fruit has evolved in recovery
When I was first hospitalized for my eating disorder almost a decade ago, I received a meal plan exchange list that labeled 1/2 banana as 1 serving of fruit. In the countless treatments that followed my initial inpatient stay, “increasing food variety” was their priority...one that manifested in rules of only being allowed to have a specific food as an exchange once a day.
My autistic brain paired with my obsessive nature & tendency to avoid change at all costs, took this rule very literally and my new association of a banana was no longer the deliciously sweet, yellow-colored fruit. When someone said banana, my brain’s translation was: 1/2 medium, 1x per day.
Just like any habit, eating disorder behaviors entrench themselves through repetitive behavior over time. They’re the result of neural connections being formed over and over again, until your brain defaults to a specific behavior because “that’s what you always do”.
But as any bad habit or dare i even say addiction—over time, you start needing more to get the same relief effect. So you slowly eat less and less, exercise more and more, add another line to your list of lies when someone asks you if you’ll come over for dinner. Same with the banana — the more obsessed I became about following my 1/2 medium, 1x per day rule, the more anxiety it took me to proceed with eating said banana.
I’ve never been a religious person, but my routine around eating a banana was quite the ritual. It had to be the “right” size (because if it was too large, then the exchange no longer “made sense” and it could easily send me into a panic), I had to cut it with the “right” knife (so I could get a clean cut and ensure both halves were equal) and one half was never allowed to exceed a certain number of grams (because then it would no longer be 1 serving of fruit).
Fast forward to the present and I’m eating multiple bananas a day and enjoying the heck out of them. Life is too damn short to weigh your food and get anxious about whether the serving size is “just right”. We’ve got goldilocks to worry about that for us :)
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