I Want it with Whipped Cream on it

Eating disorder rules often have very little to do with food or weight. Turning my plate in a circle before I allowed myself to start eating didn’t do anything to affect how many calories I ingested or how quickly I dropped a dress size, but these obsessive rituals gave me the illusion of control, when in reality, I had none. Luckily, at this stage in my recovery, I am mostly free of ED rituals, however, they were tough to eliminate.

In the depths of my eating disorder, I ran mostly on caffeine. I would stop by the grocery store on my way to work and pick up a couple of energy drinks—one to compliment the pot of coffee I’d consumed before leaving home, and one for lunch. I frequented coffee shops, often stopping at several during the day. By 5:00, I was an anxious, jittery mess. There are two differences in my relationship with coffee shops these days. One is that I don’t calculate the caffeine-to-calories ratio in everything I order; the other is simple: whipped cream.

For years, I refused whipped cream on my drinks. It was silly, really. The few extra calories in a dollop of whipped cream were but a drop in the bucket of a Frappucino, but like most irrational ED rules, it didn’t matter. I was terrified of the texture, the color, the smell. As my eating disorder progressed, I stopped putting creamer in my coffee, then I stopped ordering anything creamy or milky. While my constant presence in Starbucks or its doppelgangers could have allowed me to be adventurous and try everything on the menu, I was limited to the low-calorie, highly caffeinated drinks anorexia permitted me to sip.

Anorexia makes a lousy date, so I broke up with her. Now, I frequent coffee shops alone. My favorite one is a little orange store called Biggby Coffee where the baristas know me and my order: a large “Butterbear” with an extra shot, no whip. But just a few days ago, as Brianna the barista was making my drink, I said, “You know what? I’m going to be crazy today. Put some whipped cream on it.” Brianna grinned at me and topped my drink off with a lovely tower of whipped cream.

As it happens, whipped cream is delicious. It’s fun to eat, fun to spray (especially into my dogs’ mouths), and keeps your latte from looking naked. I am proud to say that I am now a bona fide whipped cream-eater. Anorexia has no place in my coffee shops, at the dinner table, or in my life at all. So I’ll pass on the extra shot to make room for a little more whipped cream.

40 Reasons to Recover

I was asked to write a list of forty reasons to recover. Add your own in the comments!

  1. To have a healthy body
  2. To be able to work through trauma
  3. To find out who I really am
  4. To be fully present in my life
  5. Because I can have fun without drugs
  6. To make healthy friendships
  7. To honor and glorify God
  8. To be a better singer
  9. Because there are more things to write about than misery and mental illness
  10. To wholeheartedly enjoy my parents’ cooking
  11. To not be too wrapped up in myself to care about others
  12. To master the art of happy poems
  13. To write stories that have no basis in my life
  14. To finally go on Jon’s and my road trip
  15. To be able to focus in class
  16. Because I am outgoing and friendly when I don’t hate myself
  17. Because God didn’t make me so I could hate His creation
  18. To have enough insight to finish my novel
  19. To go back to Eckerd
  20. To become an ordained cantor
  21. Because I deserve to love myself
  22. Because trauma doesn’t define me
  23. Because I am strong enough to fight
  24. Because I don’t want to die
  25. Because I am talented
  26. Because life is too short to feel guilty over Mom’s famous chocolate cake
  27. To be able to live independently
  28. Because the light of God is within me
  29. Because I am loved
  30. Because I am beautiful as I am
  31. Because I need a healthy functioning brain to write well
  32. To make my parents proud of me
  33. To make decisions I can feel good about
  34. Because my weight has nothing to do with my character
  35. To experience a range of emotions without fear
  36. To be proud of myself
  37. Because I’ve wasted enough time being sick, sad, and miserable
  38. To be a positive role model
  39. Because it’s time to let go
  40. Because I’m worth it