My husband was snacking last night on a small piece of chocolate cake given to him as part of a box of little cakes by a work acquaintance. He said that he didn't really care much for the chocolate one and I told him to just throw it away. The box has 6 tiny cakes and I sampled a small bite of a lemon one, but no more than that. I hadn't really felt much interest in any of the cakes beyond that taste, but this morning I was cleaning up and found the remains of the chocolate cake that he didn't like sitting where he'd left it as he hadn't bothered to toss it out. I looked at the cake and thought that I might want to taste it to see if I liked it.
I looked at the tiny bit of cake and I thought about taking a bite, but then I thought "to what end?" What if I like the cake and want to eat the rest of it? Do I want to spend some of my day's calories on this? Do I really want to eat it at all? I wasn't even hungry or craving chocolate.
The truth is that my interest level in the cake went up only because it was unwanted. Had my husband eaten it or actually thrown it out, I wouldn't even have considered sampling it. I think that there is something at work in regards to my value as a person when I deal with food. I get the scraps that are leftover when no one else wants them. If my husband wants something, he gets it first. I get it if it's one step removed from the trash. Those are the things that are appropriate for me to eat because I'm not "good enough" to be first in line.
I often feel that this sort of mental adjustment or change in attitude toward food is part of where the real answers lie in dealing with eating disorders. It's not about willpower or sweeping changes in lifestyle so much as repositioning your thinking again and again so that by mental millimeters, you come to value yourself enough not to ease your pain with edible garbage. The mistake I think many people make while attempting this adjustment is they try to substitute other rewards instead of food (like makeovers, new clothes, travel, etc.). You don't need to change the reward. You need to change the thinking which makes you feel a particular reward is going to accomplish something that it can't do. Whatever that emptiness is can't be filled by anything.