Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Forgetful Eater

This week, Danny Lavery and special guest Sarah Schneider discuss a Prudie letter: the forgetful eater.

Sarah: Ohhhh, I really feel for/identify with this writer

Danny: Me too!

I feel two slightly contradictory impulses here:

Sarah: Tell me! 

Danny: One is that this is totally worth investigating and spending time with (with friends, in a journal, maybe with a therapist too, probably with your partner), that these feelings of uncertainty and insecurity and “I don’t want to look too closely into possibly-disordered-eating habits because they’re not ‘fully-fledged anorexia’ ”

By which I guess I mean, “This is worth taking seriously.”

and the other impulse is to look for easy, low-impact ways to SLIGHTLY improve your daily habits so you’re not finding yourself exhausted and starving at the end of the day

By which I guess I mean, it is totally OK to just look for small, achievable changes and not try to perfectly rehabilitate your relationship to food and your body overnight

Sarah: I agree, but also I’m interested in the timing about her losing her job and starting going to the gym more and thinking about her eating habits more. When one aspect of life feels out of control it can be very easy to slip into “well, I can control my eating habits/body size” and I’m wondering if she’s having a little bit of that

Danny: oh gosh, yes—absolutely

Sarah: Which isn’t the end of the world!

But is probably worth looking at/discussing, especially if she wants to try and get pregnant soon

At which point she’s likely going to want to check in with a health care professional, who can at the very least provide some info on general nutrition/nutrition around pregnancy

And

Also

In the meantime, I think having some snacks around would be good/possibly doing some light meal planning/setting some intention around food

Danny: yeah, I think something basic like setting an alarm for the late morning/early afternoon and having something like berries and a granola bar or whatever ready to go will make a difference

Sarah: Absolutely

Danny: There’s “figuring out how to heal your relationship to food/nourishment/your body as a lifelong process”

Sarah: Yogurt

Danny: and then there’s also “make sure you eat before 5 p.m. so you don’t pass out”

Sarah: Yes

Which is definitely the more immediate concern

Danny: both are good and important, but you don’t have to figure this all out overnight and become a totally self-actualized person

Sarah: Exactly

Danny: I would also talk to your boyfriend about this!

Not so he can fix it for you

but just so he knows what you struggle with

Sarah: I definitely agree. And also feel free to ask for what you want in that conversation

Danny: if you are an affirmations person, maybe even a little sticky note somewhere you can see it but that’s out of sight for other people that reminds you of something like “You deserve to eat something that tastes and feels good, even by yourself”

that can be very cheesy but it’s also … fine to be cheesy sometimes

Sarah: Like “would you mind gently reminding me?” Or “I just want you to know this, please don’t try and fix it”

I love that affirmation

Also, no foods are bad

Danny: I really relate to the idea that like—I’ll do something pleasurable around other people to avoid scrutiny and to blend in

but when I’m alone?? buddy you’d better believe I’m going to regulate, scrutinize, and punish my body!

Sarah: I 1000% relate

Also

as far as I can tell, aspirational produce purchases are pretty universal

Danny: yes!

Sarah: So don’t feel guilty about that

And cheese and bread are perfect favorite foods

Danny: right! It’s fine to eat cheese and bread

and I definitely also get that you don’t want it at every meal

Sarah: Absolutely!

Danny: but you can maybe set a reasonably aspirational goal of “one bread-and-cheese meal, and one meal with some vegetables or fruit”

and see how that goes

Sarah: Yes. It will help to not ascribe morality to food.

You are not good for eating veggies

You are not bad for eating bread

Danny: but it’s hard to balance the twin/oppositional pressures of “I SHOULD eat healthy and regularly and be super self-accepting” and “I should be really thin and fit-looking and non-fucked-up about my body”

i don’t remember who coined the “good-enough mother” thing

but maybe the “healthy-enough diet” will be useful for you

eating something before 5 p.m. is a good goal! that’s good enough for right now!

right now my healthy-enough thing is … I am continuing to try to quit smoking

Sarah: Me too. Don’t tell my mom.

Danny: I have a last thought about this

which is that sometimes the heightened gentleness of, let’s say, the language most associated with ED recovery/body positivity can seem paltry or weak contrasted with the slightly disordered/punishing/“tough” voice in one’s mind

like “fuck putting little cutesy stickers about deserving to eat around your house, just suck it up and go to the gym”

do you know what i mean?

Sarah: Oh, absolutely.
It’s really hard to have a healthy relationship to food/bodies. It does not come naturally to many many people and takes conscious effort.

Danny: and without making too many assumptions about the LW’s internal monologue, i just want to say that might be a reaction you experience if you try slightly gentle/nurturing self-talk

also I apologize for saying self-talk

Sarah: Apology accepted

Danny: I’m aware of the glamour/allure of the tough, self-loathing voice in one’s head!

“Other people are going to feed you a lot of bullshit about how you should just be nice to yourself and set alarms to eat yogurt, but *I’ll* tell it like it is.”

Sarah: But the “I” is lots of horrible messaging over many years to try and get you to hate your body

Danny: right, that hatred makes … a lot of industries a lot of money

Sarah: So much money

So profitable

Danny: anyways, good luck! I think there are a lot of things you can do to automate the stuff you’ve previously forgotten to do

Sarah: Yes! You’ve got this!

Danny: and I hope you find another job soon. Unemployment is really stressful.

Sarah: I second that

Danny: I hope the next time I see you, I’m not smoking!

Sarah: I hope that too! I probably still will be!

But I believe in you!