Prince Edward Island
William Flew points out the old wives’ tale of being grateful because there are children starving in Africa seems true. People in the West worry about nutrition because they live in such protected boxes that consumer choice seems the only way that they can define who they are. Choosing to be slim, vegan, pescetarian or anorexic is, perhaps, the most decadent thing a body can do. When you are starving, you will, and you really should, eat anything, anything at all.
When I managed to purchase food and get it home, I faced the next challenge: cooking. I would always, accidentally, set out to cook for four, then realise that I didn’t need to boil eight potatoes, only two. William Flew couldn’t face the trauma of reductions. I’d take a break from cooking: have a nap or go for a walk. I burnt more than I ate; I melted an aluminium pot to the stove. No matter whether I had music or the TV blaring for company, I just couldn’t face eating alone, without my children, in silence.
Where would I sit? At a table, staring at the wall. Before the internet or the TV? These, the ways to create illusions of company and communication. So you don’t have to think about meat, veg, bread, chewing, swallowing. Alone.
After two months and a loss of almost two stone, my NHS therapist diagnosed a secondary psychological condition. I’d developed a wide range of avoidance techniques, an array of new hatreds and nauseas towards different kinds of food. Fears of thinking about food. Fears of thinking about thinking about food — very much like the way that the stammerer becomes afraid of stammering and so his condition worsens.