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  • Writer's pictureRachel

Just (cash)ew and me

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

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 that not all of my time and energy is channelled towards calculating the quantities of plant-based 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. The current process of  starting to reintroduce foods that anorexia has caused me to avoid, as it happens, is quite the lengthy one. I’ll take you through it step by step. 

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 the food I’m about to muster, and working out how I could reasonably incorporate it into my meal plan so that:

a) my clinician is happy, and; 

b) the woman upstairs 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 together with a bag of cashew nuts. It’s safe to say that we are now well-acquainted. 

Phase 2 of the reintroduction can last somewhat longer. It involves the careful, yet hypothetical, planning of a meal or snack that could include said food. Note the emphasis on hypothetical: we’re still very low on commitment at this stage. Premature commitment to the cause can lead to unnecessary pressure, unrealistic expectations and much anxiety...therefore it’s much better to move along at a pace we’re all comfortable with. 

If Phase 2 successfully progresses to Phase 3, the careful, thoughtful planning moves on from being hypothetical, to maybe-this-could-actually-happen. I guess it’s a bit like when you start to properly imagine the person you're dating with a bit more hope involved. Perhaps the stage where you start to open up more, and spending time with each others’ friends . 

In this relationship, it involves settling on a meal or snack concept, and then postulating 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 over-thinking – and potential flaking – to occur. In Phase 4, me and cashew actually become one. So this engagement really can’t be rushed. 

It’s important to note that this entire cycle can be terminated at any given moment. A full rotation of Phase 1 through to the end of Phase 4 can last anywhere between a few days and a few months. It is all very dependent on context, and there is 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 July. And of course, before we even hit Phase 1, there is usually an epoch of internet searches, rumination and inner dialogue taking place. To be honest, it's quite exhausting. 

I currently find myself gingerly between Phases 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 majestic olive, nuts of any kind remain quite a scary prospect. So, I guess at this point we are just taking things slow...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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