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I Learned to Enjoy Food Again at a Grocery Store

February 22, 2024 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Believe it or not, a mundane trip to the grocery store helped me learn to enjoy food again. The year was 2019. I had recently moved across the United States from Florida to Arizona. And in my new zip code, there was a Trader Joe's on almost every corner. I am aware that makes me come across as a basic Millennial stereotype (which I own, for the record), but living near Trader Joe's has proven to be a crucial milestone in my eating disorder recovery. Here's how this grocery store helped me learn to enjoy food again—and to eat what I love without shame

How I Learned to Enjoy Food Again with Help from a Grocery Store

Before I dive into this topic, I want to acknowledge it is a socioeconomic privilege to have access to food within close proximity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that around 44 million Americans experience food insecurity, either due to their location or income bracket.This can exacerbate the prevalence of eating disorders in some communities and present systemic barriers to healing.2 I would be remiss to overlook this disparity. As such, I have immense gratitude for the opportunity to rediscover enjoyment in food.

The first time I walked into my local Trader Joe's, I felt an immediate gravitational pull toward the snack aisle. As someone who dealt with anorexia for 15 years, I wasn't much of a snacker between meals—but I was intrigued by the sheer volume and eclectic variety of snacks along those shelves. From chili lime cashews and tempura seaweed to almond butter pretzels and Jerk-seasoned plantains, my mouth began to water in anticipation of those unique flavor combinations. As I stared at all the options available, a new thought occurred to me: 

"Is food more than just a source of utility and function? Could it be pleasurable, too? Can I nourish myself, while also savoring the experience?"

With this question in mind, I bought a few snacks. That small but intentional choice inside a grocery store built the foundation on which I would learn to enjoy food again. 

I Learned to Enjoy Food Again—and Combat Shame in the Process

It has been four years since this introduction to Trader Joe's, but my love for food only continues to grow. When I crave an afternoon or evening snack, I no longer repress that desire. I listen to it; then I respond—even when my eating disorder wants me to do the opposite.

Cultivating this mindset was an incremental process, and it still feels counterintuitive sometimes. But in the moments when guilt creeps back in, I remember that paradigm shift in the snack aisle of Trader Joe's. I recall the freedom of realizing I could enjoy food with no shame attached. Then, I make the deliberate choice to reach for a handful of chili lime cashews or almond butter pretzels. I tune out the eating disorder voice in my brain. I lean into the pleasurable flavors on my tongue. And I smile at the simple realization that a grocery store helped me learn to enjoy food again.

Sources

  1. USDA ERS - Key Statistics & Graphics. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-u-s/key-statistics-graphics/#insecure
  2. Hazzard, V., et al (2020). Food Insecurity and Eating Disorders: A Review of Emerging Evidence. Current Psychiatry Reports, 22(12). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7596309

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2024, February 22). I Learned to Enjoy Food Again at a Grocery Store, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2024/2/i-learned-to-enjoy-food-again-at-a-grocery-store



Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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