Telling (17 year old recovering anorexia sufferer) Ben about this blog, he said: "Why don't you tell them about when I cooked the evening meal last night?" which he did as a 'surprise' for me.
The eating disorder / anorexia experts always recommend that you keep the anorexia / eating disorder sufferer out of the kitchen and away from food preparation and planning.
One year ago, had anorexic Ben been permitted to cook dinner (which he wasn't), he would have done it to micro-manage exactly what went into the meal, removing all traces of fat, oils and other anorexia 'enemies'. We would have ended up with something very low calorie and dry as a bone. One of his anorexia-fueled party pieces before he was banned from the kitchen was to see how much he could de-calorise recipes to come up with something ultra low calorie and fat-free, and usually pretty tasteless as a result, but which he, fueled by the anorexia, would label as 'healthy'.
Strictly, while he is still recovering from anorexia, Ben is banned from meal preparation, but is permitted to bake cakes, breads, biscuits, etc now that he is reasonably OK about cooking with oils and fats. But last night's meal was cooked 'as a surprise' for me. I smelled bacon cooking and realised something was up!
Now that the anorexia is reducing, Ben says he enjoyed cooking in a way he would never have done a year ago. Also, he was relaxed enough about it to ensure the calorie total came to 600 calories (which is the benchmark we use for evening meals), even including the 2 tablespoons of oil required and the bacon.
Then, as he usually does these days, he ate the meal without any problems.
Continuing the comparison with a year ago when the anorexia was at its height, I referred to the problem we used to have with Ben 'downing tools' at mealtimes and ranting and raving if things weren't absolutely micro-perfect.
He said: "When the anorexia was strong, because I was taking in calories at meal times, those calories had to be absolutely perfect in every way. If they weren't 'perfect', no matter how small the issue, the anorexia would make me freak out. The outburst wasn't because the meal was 'imperfect'; it was me being annoyed with myself for being affected by the fact that things weren't 'perfect'. I was angry with the anorexia. Now that the anorexia thoughts are quieter I am much more relaxed about eating and actually enjoy it for all the right reasons, like a normal person. I don't even mind if things aren't 'perfect', for example the carrot cake I baked the other day is a bit soggy. A few months ago this would have freaked me out [and resulted in him banging and crashing around, maybe smashing something]. This is because the anorexia would 'tell me' that I'd taken in 'fatty' food that wasn't absolutely 'perfect'. In the high-anorexia days I couldn't handle that. But now I'm much more relaxed about it."