• Rachel

Just (cash)ew and me

This post contains some discussion of disordered eating behaviours that may be triggering if you are currently struggling, or have struggled, with an eating disorder. Please, please put your own well-being first before deciding whether or not to continue reading.

I also apologise for the pun. If you know me well, you'll already know this is more than a small problem.

I promise not all of my time and energy is channelled towards calculating the quantities of meatless protein sources. Just a more than average amount of it is. I can assure you though, I do spend a substantial proportion of the week thinking about meat and fish, too! As well as a good amount of each day contemplating carbs, deliberating dairy, and figuring out fruit and vegetables. I’m all about balance, you know. It’s been quite a long time since I last ate a cashew nut. My current process of reintroducing the foods anorexia has had me avoiding, as it happens, is quite the lengthy one.

Phase 1 involves spending some good quality time with the kitchen scales and the edible in question. I call this getting comfortable and familiar with the weights, quantities and calorie content of this new food, and working out how I could reasonably incorporate it into my meal plan so that a) my clinician is happy, and b) anorexia isn’t too unhappy. This is a very fine line to tread, and such a quest must not be taken lightly.

This week, the kitchen scales and I hung out with a bag of cashew nuts. It’s safe to say we are now well-acquainted. Phase 2 of reintroduction spans a while longer, however. This involves the careful, thoughtful, yet hypothetical, planning of a meal or snack that would include said food. Note the emphasis on hypothetical: we’re still very low-commitment at this stage. Commitment too early on can cause unnecessary pressure and’s much better to move along at a pace we’re all comfortable with.

If phase 2 progresses to phase 3, this careful, thoughtful planning moves on from being hypothetical, to maybe this could happen. I guess, like when you start imagining the person you're dating spending time with your friends. This involves settling on a meal or snack, and considering a day of the week upon which it might be feasible to take things to the next level. Usually the proposed day is a fair few days in advance, to ensure enough time for the necessary over-thinking, and inevitable flaking and postponing, to occur. At phase 4, me and cashew become one. This really can’t be rushed.

The entire cycle can be terminated at any moment, but a rotation of phase 1 through to the end of 4 can last anywhere between a few days and a few months. It is all very dependent on context, but there is very often no way of predicting it. Mastering chow mein sauce was a surprisingly quick and painless endeavour. Just this evening, I finally conquered the humble tin of baked beans which has felt a bit like a plaster I've been slowly eking off since about July. And of course, before we even hit phase 1, there is most often an epoch of internet searches, rumination and inner dialogue taking place. To be honest, it's quite exhausting.

I currently find myself between phase 2 and 3 with cashew nuts. A cashew nut curry holds some potential. As does a combination of grapes and cashews as a snack. Though I have recently conquered the olive, nuts of any kind remain quite a scary prospect. So I guess, we’re just taking things slow for now...and seeing where things go?


"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." ~ Proverbs 16:9

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