This is the fourth and final essay in Empty Magic, a weekly series from Dani Janae about eating disorders and recovery.
To supplement the excess of a savory meal, you must end with a dessert.
Something sweet with a mix of textures, blending hot and cold. Something à la mode.
When I set out to write this series, I was expecting to come to some shining resolution documenting my now improved relationship with food. My relationship with food has improved, but it is not perfect.
I can usually eat a meal without feeling disgusting or guilty, but not always.
In my life in general, I try to resist happy endings and coming off like an expert on subjects I have suffered with. I’m sober now, but the impulse to drink still creeps up on me. I have recovered from my eating disorder, but the drive to be smaller and to take up less space still gets at me.
And how could it not. We live in a world that values slim. Even as the ideal body type changes slightly, it is still a variation on a theme: no stomach, small waist, minimal body fat.
This is not my body type, and I look in the mirror every day and make the choice to find myself attractive, to find other bodies like mine attractive. When I eat, I eat what I am craving.
After a frustrating work day recently, I only wanted one thing. Caramelized apples with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream. I indulged in that craving for dessert, then again the next day for breakfast. It was of course not the ideal meal to wake up with, but it was what I wanted.
I cannot speak for anyone but myself, so I’ll say I think in some ways I will always struggle with my body as long as the global ideal is the opposite of what I am. I will always know how many calories are in a cup of broccoli. How many cherry tomatoes will push me over the FDA’s suggested daily caloric limit.
When I’m not careful, these myths about food that I adopted during my eating disorder will creep up on me and make my day a hell of calorie counting and restriction.
Every day, I wake up and make the conscious choice to be happy in the body I’m in. Sometimes I win. Sometimes the fight comes to my door and pummels me.
I’m fat, and I eat dessert. Despite what every diet and fitness guru advises. I eat three meals with snacks in between and dessert. I don’t want to go back to packs of gum and water as meal replacements.
The truth I know is that I could be thinner. I could live off of less and less and less, but I’ve had that life, and it made me disappear. I don’t want to evaporate, I want to be full. I want to be alive.