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Sharing photos of meals on social media is one of the jokes people make about people my age. Isn’t it hilarious? Imagine! The audacity! Young people wanting to talk about their days with their friends! Preposterous.
Even though shaming my generation for sharing photos that make them happy has become a gentle national pastime, I’ve been sharing photos of my meals on Instagram every day for more than a year now. This isn’t because I’m jonesing for likes or that I want to boost my ego. (Though, please, any like on my photos is always a welcome gift.)
Last October, I started seeking help for a health problem. I was at my lowest weight. I was convinced that my diet was to blame. Certainly, my rotating bouts of bloating, constipation and diarrhea (gross) were because of the foods I was eating. So I attempted to control my diet; I tried eliminating whole groups of food to see if that made me feel better.
Somehow, my brain had warped into thinking food was my enemy, hence why I wanted to control it.
Goodbye, gluten. Goodbye, dairy. Goodbye, apples or other fruits that had the “wrong” kind of sugar.
I would hardly “feel” like eating, and then when I finally did eat, I would feel equally horrible. A regular dinner for me was most of a clementine and some pieces of candied ginger. It was all I could stomach.
Determined to get to the bottom of this intestinal mystery, my regular doctor suggested I seek out a gastroenterologist for more answers. After multiple visits and blood tests, and an MRI which made me so nervous I made my friend Chelsea go with me so I wouldn’t freak out, I was sent to an endocrinologist. Without finding physical symptoms, we thought perhaps the cause might be hormonal.
This entire time, I was just chasing answers to something that had a much more simple explanation: an eating disorder. Somehow, my brain had warped into thinking food was my enemy, hence why I wanted to control it. Though wanting to stay healthy is a noble cause, my brain took it to the extreme.
There weren’t any gastro- or endocrin-causes because it was my own dang fault. I’m not beating myself up about it, don’t worry. Even though I brought those problems on myself, I also brought on the solutions.
I introduced most of the “evil” foods back into my life.
Hello, avocados!, Hello, fun new cheeses!
I would call my eating disorder a “weird food thing,” since that seemed more quirky and Deschanel of me. In reality, I’m still suffering from my “weird food thing” even though I have a much better grip on things. I weigh 20 lbs more than I did this time a year ago. My food choices are geared toward helping me gain weight, but they also make me super happy. That’s what important.
Those photos let me show the world, or the very few number of kind people who still follow me on there, that I’m doing alright.
Part of my “weird food thing” is that I cook every meal. I don’t know the last time I ate in a restaurant. And I still only eat twice a day: breakfast and dinner. And that’s only every 12 hours.
This is why I post my meals on Instagram. They serve as a way for me to document my progress. Those photos let me show the world, or the very few number of kind people who still follow me on there, that I’m doing alright.
No longer am I hardly eating anything! Look, I made a whole meal! See! I’m okay!
So, sorry, if my food photos clog your feed. I know they don’t mean as much to you as they do to me. I appreciate you putting up with them. I appreciate everyone who’s been supportive of me while I figured out what was happening in this tiny, yet confusing, body. For now, I’m going to keep posting them because each one is a mini milestone on my road to recovery. And I’ll take all of those I can get.
Sami Main is the social media editor for Tech Insider, and her writing has appeared on BuzzFeed, Femsplain and The Gloss. She lives in Brooklyn with a cat who has a mustache. Follow her on Twitter @samimain.
A version of this story originally appeared on Medium and has been reprinted with permission.
Photo via Jennifer/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)