Restaurants & Eating Disorders
Ordering Food at a Restaurant When You Have an Eating Disorder
Step 1: Look up menu items and caloric information before entering the restaurant. This will allow you to ascertain exactly how many calories you might save by ordering the salad dressing on the side, or by skipping the pre-dinner bread sticks.
Step 2: When the waitress asks what you’d like to drink, smile widely and proudly ask for a glass of water with lemon. If you’re feeling peer pressure to get something alcoholic, ask for a vodka soda, aka the most tasteless, calorie-deficient safety-net of an alcoholic drink. If you’re out for lunch or breakfast, ask for coffee, no cream or sugar please. Drink as much coffee as you can stomach because this will help you feel less hungry.
Step 3: If your fellow food-eaters wish to order an appetizer, don’t say a word. If they ask for your opinion, say, “Whatever you want, I’m not picky!” not because you’re not picky, but because you don’t plan on eating whatever they order anyway.
Step 4: Order your pre-selected menu option that you know has the correct allotment of calories to preserve your warped sense of alright-ness. Perhaps it is a salad. Salads are good options, especially if they don’t have many toppings. You might also consider ordering one or two sides. Broccoli and a potato for example, or Brussel sprouts and tomato soup (no croutons). If someone questions your meal, smile and say “Oh, it’s absolutely enough! I wasn’t all that hungry.” Bonus points if you can leave a few Brussel sprouts on your plate or consume only half your vodka soda.
Step 5: Try not to be jealous of the way your friends and family seem to eat with utter abandon, enjoying their food like true mother fucking heathens. Instead, shift your perspective by congratulating yourself. Your iron will has enabled you to under-nourish yourself, and you ought to be proud. Sometimes, people will comment on your self-control (i.e.: self-denial) as if it is a highly sought-after skill, something to add to your resume, “Wow, you just have so much self-control.” “You’re so good!” “You’re so healthy!” “I wish I could eat like you.” If you do this long enough, others may start to say no for you.
Ordering Food at a Restaurant When You’re in Recovery from an Eating Disorder.
Step 1: Do not pay attention to the little green leaves next to the “healthy” menu options. Do not look at the calorie information listed on the restaurant’s website. Definitely do not skip the pre-dinner bread sticks, because those mother fuckers are amazing and, look at me, will not automatically make you fat.
Step 2: When the waitress asks for your drink order, ask for iced tea, a beer, or a latte. Get whatever beverage you want, because hydration is important, and it is scientifically not proven that one alcoholic beverage will forever ruin your waistline.
Step 3: Are you extra hungry? Does an appetizer sound especially delightful? If so, order the goddamned thing! Get that bruschetta, order some wings, or some avocado toast. Share it with your friends and laugh about how stupid it is that the restaurant can charge ten fucking dollars for avocado toast.
Step 4: Order whatever meal sounds satisfying. A burger with all the fixings might sound good. Do not only eat the patty, and do not ask for a side salad if what you really want are fries. Stop eating when you feel full. If you have food left over, take it home or offer it to your friend Dave, who is forever willing to eat anyone’s leftovers. If you’re very cold and clam chowder sounds nice, order that! If you’re still hungry, order something else. If someone raises an eyebrow as you’re ingesting a slice of pizza, raise your eyebrow back, and wink at them.
Step 5: Be prepared for someone to comment on your food choices. They might say longingly, “I wish I could eat like that.” Or they might glare at you when the waitress offers a desert menu, and you take it. “Cookies go straight to my bum,” someone might speculate as you bite into one. If this happens, offer them a bite of your cookie as a sort of test. If their butt suddenly expands, they are right, and you’ll buy lunch. If not, the meal is on them. See who takes you up on this offer.
How Normal People Order Food at a Restaurant
“Yes, hi. Could I get the pastrami sub, no pickle and a gin and tonic? Thank you.”
P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the NEDA helpline at (800) 931-2237. Find a comprehensive list of EDA (Eating Disorder Anonymous) meetings HERE. Find a treatment center in any state HERE.