My dad loves food. Like, loves it. He has encouraged this same love for food in our family by cooking us meals and taking us out to fancy, unique, and cultural restaurants. Thus, going on my raw diet and eventually telling him about my eating disorder probably wasn’t his idea of a fun relationship with food with his daughter.
But, my dad has prevailed. Our relationship is still strong, if not stronger–and it is thanks to his support.
We have a great father-daughter relationship. But the eating disorder? He doesn’t get it. He tries, I’ll give you that. But it is no easy task. I had a long conversation with him about it last summer, which didn’t get us much anywhere, but it was a good effort on his part and a good way for me to practice being more open with him about it.
Eating disorders are tricky if you haven’t experienced it yourself. Before I even had an eating disorder I thought that people with eating disorders were just lazy and were going the “easy” way out by purging or just being “stupid” for not eating enough (I hate to even write all of that). Why couldn’t they just eat healthy food and exercise, I thought?
My dad has always encouraged our family to eat heartily growing up. He encouraged us to eat slowly and enjoy our food, had us sit together as a family for dinner each night, and never said no to going out to eat. He made it something of a contest between my sister and I to see who would choose to try the “new” food at the table—and whoever did, received praise. He also encouraged us to help him cook dinner, cooking up dishes like pasta with tomato and cheese sauce, angel-hair pasta with chicken, broccoli, and carrots, or chicken with vegetables and biscuits.
“Is this a good food or bad food?” my sister and I would ask our parents.
“Anything is bad if you eat too much of it,” they’d say. “Everything in moderation.”
Ah, everything in moderation—my dad’s life quote. Even as I dove into my fruit diet later on, my dad continued to preach moderation. “Cafeteria style,” he calls it—a little bit of this and a little bit of that to enjoy life. This, I feel, has made him a healthy man. While he may not eat all of the healthiest foods, his healthy mindset, healthy portions, and love for food keeps him healthier than anyone with the “purest” diet. This, I believe, shows the importance of having a healthy mentality with food that I never understood or believed in until now.
My dad means the world to me—and I hope he knows and understands that even through the struggle these past few years. It has been difficult to connect with him and help him to understand the eating disorder, but at the same time he makes an effort to understand, support me, and love me, and that’s all that matters to me.