A Binge Eater Walks Up to a Donut Buffet

*On experiencing my first wedding reception donut buffet, as a recovered Binge Eater*

Like a drunken Prom Queen tripping over the train of her dress to collect her crown, I bolt from the dance floor, rush to the glorious donut shrine and stand in awe. I grab the way-too-small dessert plate from the stack and press it close to my cleavage, like a teenage girl nervously clutches her school books, as the boy she's in love with passes her in the hall.

They're all so pretty, they sparkle and I swear one just winked at me.

My eyes widen and my heart beats a little faster. I'm Excited. I'm Nervous. I'm hungry for a donut. And like a gaggle of mourners at an Amish funeral, a crowd forms around the oval table these round beauties rest on. That's when I hear the rumble of food shaming comments and the noisy arguments of, "Oh, this is dangerous." "Okay, I'll have one bite, but then we have to dance hard to burn this off." "Allen, take this away from me. You eat the rest. I can't be trusted." "You know I have no self-control." "No, you can't eat that, it's full of sugar." "Oh. Gluten."

I remember when I said those things. I remember promising to be 'good'. I remember chewing food and feeling proud for not swallowing it. I remember how much my throat burned when I did swallow, and ran to the bathroom to un-swallow it. I remember all the nights I sneaked into pantries and lost myself in a box of Oreos, or a pot of spaghetti, or an entire rectangle of cheese, or a jar of peanut butter. I remember crying on the kitchen floor, often. I remember when food was bad, and my body was bad and my appetite was bad and donuts were bad and I was bad and everything was bad.

My head is full of the useless chatter and I wonder what people will think of me when they see me take a bunch of donuts for myself. They'll think I'm still a binge eater. They're feel sorry for me, yet proud of themselves. Like, the whole, "Yea I ate a donut, but at least I didn't eat as much as Erica..." I'm about to put my plate down and run back to the safety of the dance floor, where I can burn more calories instead of ingesting them. And that's when I hear the voice; "Go ahead, honey. Take exactly what you want. It's okay. This is normal, now. You're not sick anymore, remember?" This is the new voice I listen to. She's new here. She's the food/body-positive parent I never had, and she came to stay with me when I was in recovery for my eating disorder. She helps me a lot.

I take a deep breath and turn my plate level, readying it for my selections...

The pink one with sprinkles matches my nail polish; I'll have that one. And the caramel one is the same color as my eyes; I want that one, as well. This other one is glazed and shines bright like a diamond in good lighting, just like me; I'll grab that one, too. This one in the corner looks kind of plain but I'll bet there's good inside; Mine. Coconut-covered? Why not! BACON-sprinkled? Um, duh!

Piled high to the starry, summer sky, I carefully walk my teetering donuts back to my table and arrange all nine of them in a line. I take one bite of each, noticing the vast and subtle differences in taste, texture, flavor and appearance. I like the pink one with sprinkles, best. I offer up the remaining eight donuts, who were now one bite shy of a full circle, and my table mates are thankful. And confused. And drunk.

I sit back in my chair and take bites of my pink sprinkled donut, knowing this is just enough for me. I'm eating exactly what I want. No need to binge. No urge to purge. No reason to cry on my kitchen floor. No big deal. It's not a special occasion that makes donuts okay...it's me who makes donuts okay to eat.

I smile enough to pick a stray blue sprinkle stuck between my teeth, when I hear the voice again- that voice that had found its way back to me, by the grace of God, just when I thought I could never get well. Through blaring music, loud, silly wedding guests and clanking glassware, I heard her. Loud and clear: 'I trust you with food, Erica.' Your body is good. Food is good. Donuts are so good. Your appetite is good. Remember? I trust you with food, Erica. I trust you with life.