How Food Became My Enemy
Last updated: February 2023
Content warning: This article may be a trigger for individuals who are dealing with or have dealt with eating disorders.
At one point in my life, food soothed my anxious soul and connected me with friends and family. My grandfather's fall-off-the-bone ribs, my aunt's tender lamb, and my grandmother's layered coconut cake were what brought us all to the dining room table to not only eat, but laugh, and at times argue. It brought us all together and made us feel a sense of connection with our cultural traditions.
My connection to food became co-dependent
Over time, this all changed because both of my parents worked full-time jobs, and didn't have time to cook like they used to. So, we often ate fast food or my mother would shop for something quick from the frozen food section. By the time I was in middle school a lot of those habits started to show on my body. I was significantly bigger, taller, and darker than the rest of my classmates. I was a target for bullying. And that's when my connection to food changed to a co-dependent one. What was used for nourishment became a source to curb anxiety and depression through binge eating.
When I was sad, I ate. When I was happy, I ate. If I was indifferent, you could find me with a Twix, a peach Faygo, and some cheddar Doritos. It wasn't healthy, but at the time it was the only thing comforting me through my body dysmorphia and the onset of a debilitating chronic skin condition. I developed hidradenitis suppurativa in middle school. The condition caused recurrent abscesses and cysts to form on my armpits, lower back, breasts, stomach, and other intimate areas.
Was my diet contributing to my HS?
I'd get flares every month, sometimes every week. These boils would often grow to be the size of a golf ball or larger and brought an indescribable amount of pain with them. When they burst, my clothes were soaked with pus and blood, and I reeked like dead flesh. No matter how much I washed or how much body spray I used I always felt dirty and felt like I could never mask the smell.
Unable to unpack the emotions that came with the condition, I ate as much as I could. By the time I entered high school, my whole body was covered in tracts, boils, open wounds, and scar tissue. When I was finally diagnosed with HS by a dermatologist that I met in a clinical trial for HS, he suggested my diet could be one of the many things exacerbating my condition. He encouraged me to lose weight and make some alterations to my diet. Despite many efforts, it didn't work out until college.
When I did finally take those steps, my diet began to snowball into an eating disorder I didn't know I had until I was afraid to eat anything because I thought I would become debilitated by it.
Check back for part two where I talk about what I did, how it began impacting my life, and what I did to finally get the help I truly needed.
When you need to vent about HS, who do you turn to first?