If you’re like most Dissociative Identity Disorder systems, you have a love/hate relationship with food. With multiple fronting alters with different needs and preferences, seemingly easy things like menu planning and shopping can feel next to impossible. Add in a few trauma induced disordered eating issues and you have a big pain on your hands!
With eating disorder specialists costing over $200 an hour, it’s no wonder that so many DID systems feel disheartened at the idea of anything food related. Our systems are no strangers to these frustrations. This article will go over what has been working for us and what we wished we had known in the past. Let’s jump right in!
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER
Because of the nature of D.I.D., it’s possible that something in this article could be triggering to your system. Please use caution and your best judgement when reading this article. Safety first!
Disclaimer: We are not doctors, therapists, or mental health professionals. We’re just a bunch of alters that are speaking from personal experience to help other systems live their best lives.
Take A Daily Vitamin
Okay, you caught us! A vitamin isn’t exactly food but hear us out! If your system is currently struggling with healthy food intake, it’s very likely that your body is nutrient deprived. Rather than beating yourselves up over it, creating a daily practice of taking a daily multivitamin can really help your body out. Will the vitamin replace your body’s need for nutrients from food? No, but it will help support the body while your system works on things.
Pro tip: We highly recommend taking children gummy vitamins. They can be taken by adults, our littles think they’re as tasty as candy, and they love seeing what shapes and colors they get for the day. There’s also no issue with gag reflexes and you don’t have to remember to eat them with food. Woot woot!
Tweak Your Words To Adjust The System’s Idea Of “Success”
It can be so easy to hang on to the idea that there is a “right way” to eat and that if you’re not eating that way, you’re in the “wrong”. Here’s the good news: that’s not true! Eating isn’t a black and white thing; there are thousands of shades of grey. That means that, rather than there being a single correct answer for what you can eat, there are tons! For you or some of your alters, that can be a hard concept to accept. A surprisingly easy way to make positive improvements with food is to just change the way you talk about it.
The “Right Way”
For example, many people (not just systems), can struggle with wanting to do things the “right way”. Everything from when to eat, to how much, to how often can be subject to this. Things gets complicated when there are people and ads everywhere trying to point you in different directions.
One simple shift is to work on looking for the right way for you. Once your system starts to adopt that simple change, you’ll be less likely to be overwhelmed and swayed by what other people are doing for themselves. This will drastically cut down on stress related to food because your system will be focusing their own body and not other people’s opinions and needs.
Many systems strive to eat in a healthy way but here’s the kicker: the word “healthy” doesn’t really mean anything! The literal definition is “to promote health” but because every body is so different, there is almost never a set guideline for what is universally healthy.
Instead of using the word “healthy”, try swapping it for “beneficial”. This simple switch can make it much easier to distinguish what foods are in good in theory from foods that have an obvious benefit for your unique body.
For example, nuts and fruit are widely considered to be healthy. But for some bodies, nuts can cause sores and fruit can sore their stomach. For those individuals, nuts and fruit are not beneficial. By eating foods based on their benefit for your body, you and your alters will be able to cut through the noise to find what works for you with much less stress.
“Always” And “Never”
Another helpful shift is to step away from the terms “always” and “never”. Instead, exchange them for “often” and “rarely”. This simple swap will remove the pressure of having to be perfect at all times. Without the pressure to be perfect, your system will be able to strive to eat food that is beneficial for the body without any crippling anxieties about every little thing.
Find The Closed Fisted Issues
Imagine for a moment that you’re holding a rope and that someone is pulling it from you. Depending on what is attached the rope, you may choose to open your hand and let them pull the rope from you or tighten your grip and try to prevent the rope from moving.
This is a great analogy for understanding priorities inside of the headspace.
There are two types of issues: open fisted issues and closed fisted issues. The open fisted issues are things that either don’t matter at all or that don’t matter enough to make waves over. Closed fisted issues, on the other hand, are nonegotionables; things that people are willing to fight to defend. Open and closed fisted issues are highly personal and they can vary widely from alter to alter.
Pro tip: If one of your alters has a closed fisted issue that you don’t understand or agree with, let it be. These are not things that you can “educate” or bully people out of. Over time, a closed fisted issue may relax but save yourself some grief and don’t attempt to force any of your alters to change their stance.
For example, my system is okay with the body eating some meat but some alters don’t want to eat meat themselves. The open fisted issue was if the body should consume meat; no one really cared one way or the other all that strongly. For some of my alters, the closed fisted issue was if they had to be the one eating the meat.
Does that mean that eating meat is “wrong”? For us, the answer is no because of our personal open and closed fisted issues. But if your system has different physical, religious, or ethical requirements, the answer may look different for your system.
Once your system has found the closed fisted issues, you’ll have a framework for what the body as a whole can eat. Having this kind of guideline is so helpful for eventually finding entire menus that the whole system will eat.
Find One Meal For The Body
Remember how we said that every body and every alter is different? When it comes to food, you need to find the things that everyone is open to and build from there. Your goal here is to find just one food or meal that every fronting alter will eat. It doesn’t have to be everyone’s favorite; it just has to be something that can be eaten no matter what.
Build Your Framework
To get started, write down a list of all of your body’s physical needs and all of your alter’s closed fisted issues. These will be your framework for hunting down what your system can eat. For example, if your body is gluten intolerant, you can cross off anything that has gluten in it. If your system has a closed fisted issue that the body must consume at least 75 grams of protein a day, check into recipes that are higher in protein.
While this may seem highly restrictive, the goal isn’t to eliminate foods forever, to increase guilt, or to encourage restricting. The idea is to create a framework that will minimize the stress of having too many choices available. With all things on this site, use your best judgement!
Plan For Your Lifestyle
After you’ve created your framework of things that the body will aim to eat, it’s time to look at your system’s lifestyle requirements. Some systems will need to consider other people’s eating requirements, some will need to focus on convenience, some will need their food to travel well, and everything in between! Only you and your alters know exactly what you all need.
Take a minute to brainstorm what your system’s unique lifestyle requires. While it can feel limiting to see all of the requirements stack up, the good news is that this will make it easier to build a food repotoire for your system! Once you have a better idea of your lifestyle’s unique needs, add those to your framework.
Put It All Together
Now that you know your body’s physical limitations, all of your alters’ close fisted issues, and your lifestyle needs, it’s time to put it all together. What you’re looking for is just one food or meal that will satisfy all three categories. Thanks to the internet, your system will be able to quickly find a few ideas. Here are some examples to get you started:
After your system has found one food or meal that satisfies all three requirements, your system can expand using the same framework whenever the system wants to spice up the menu. Easy peasy!
Now that you’ve read our tips for improving your system’s relationship with food, where can you go from here? If your system decides that working with an eating disorder specialist is the next step, check out this article about the traits of a good therapist.