Learning that I Have Permission to Enjoy Food

I have permission to enjoy food. As obvious as this sounds, it's one of the most impactful realizations I've come to learn in eating disorder recovery. In the darkest seasons of my illness, I believed that showing a preference for any food at all was a sign of weakness. I would not allow myself to acknowledge pleasure in the flavors or textures of anything I ate. Food was purely utilitarian back then—I consumed just enough to stay alive and placate the concerns of those around me. But the more I heal, the more I learn that food is a source of nourishment and enjoyment. So I can grant myself permission to experience both.

Learning to Enjoy Food Is Part of Eating Disorder Recovery   

Even after making the decision to heal from anorexia once and for all in my 20s, it still took me several years to admit that I enjoy the taste of certain foods. I was able to wrap my brain around the nutritional value of following a healthy, balanced, consistent meal plan. But the concept of looking forward to meal times, savoring each bite, and feeling pleasure instead of shame—that filled me with terror. Anytime I would venture to enjoy the cool, fresh creaminess of my aunt's famous guacamole on a humid summer afternoon or the crisp, buttery crust of my father's homemade pizza on a Friday movie night, I would label myself a failure.

I assumed that enjoying food meant relinquishing the sense of willpower and control I worked so relentlessly to cultivate. However, now I understand this belief was just another tactic from the eating disorder to keep me in a cycle of deprivation. Learning that I have permission to enjoy food is a counterintuitive process. It requires me to confront every false, harmful message the anorexic mindset wants me to internalize without question. But it's also liberating to finally realize that I have as much a right as anyone else to savor the human experience of nourishing my own body. This freedom to lean into enjoyment—rather than trying to suppress it—has become a vital part of my eating disorder recovery.   

I Give Myself Unconditional Permission to Enjoy All Foods

Food is not a prize I must earn, nor is eating a weakness I need to overcompensate for. As part of my lifetime commitment to healing, I've made a pact with myself: I have permission to enjoy all foods with no conditions or restrictions attached. Whether it's a bowl of organic strawberries or a slice of German chocolate cake, I am allowed to feel pleasure in whatever I choose to put in my mouth. Eating is not only a basic survival mechanism—it's also a delicious sensory experience that I do not want to miss out on anymore. I am through with deprivation. I have permission to enjoy food, so that's exactly what I plan on doing. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2022, July 6). Learning that I Have Permission to Enjoy Food, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Connect with Mary-Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram and her personal blog.

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