Okay, so I'm going to use a Western metaphor for a literal Hindu belief, that was inspired by a recent post from the blog On Simplicity.
We all have sacred cows—those rules, guidelines, and things that we feel are immutable and untouchable, writes blog author Sara. I’m of the opinion that some things really are sacred, but they’re few and far between. Most of things we’re “supposed” to do are really quite optional.
An eating disorder kind of requires many sacred cows- rules that cannot be broken no matter how inane or inconvenient, concepts and delusions held tight by the sufferer that no one else can quite understand. One of my sacred cows has to do with calories, which for an eating disorder, really isn't surprising. However, you throw in a large pinch of OCD and you have my problem: foods need to have a "nice" number of calories. Despite my math major and smashing ability at mental arithmetic, my food needs to come in increments of 25, 50, 75 or 100. And numbers that end in 50 and 100 are far better than those that end in 25 or 75.
So when I discover that the Eggo waffles I want to buy have calories that look like X+10, I kind of have a meltdown in the freezer aisle. Thermodynamics be damned- it is possible. Yes, I bought the Eggos, largely because I knew that the 90 calorie yogurts I had in the fridge would not only make a nice topping, but also make the waffles into a "nice" number and the world would be well.
Yep. Sacred cow.
It's really a pain in the ass, and even I know this. I know it's not rational, I know those extra 10 calories aren't going to appear on my thighs in all of their waffle-y goodness and make the crazy guy next to me on the Metro squirt some syrup on me (I've seen stranger things happen).
There are other rules, of course. I have a specific breakfast I eat pretty much every day. I might mix things up and have blueberries or an apple instead of my banana, but otherwise? I eat the same breakfast everyday. And I'm pretty okay with that. Part of it is liking the breakfast, and that it's easy to prepare in less than 5 minutes when you're 90% comatose. Part of it, thought, is the rituals and rigidity that's a part of the disorder. I'm working with my therapist not to stop eating that breakfast for good, because that's not the point. I want to be able to eat a different breakfast if I choose and be okay with that.
Eating breakfast is a sacred cow that must stay. Skipping meals is bad. I've learned a few things in my recovery and that is probably the top one. But what I have for breakfast- whether it's my standard fare, my X+10 calorie waffles, or something completely different, can't be so stinking sacred.