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  • Writer's pictureAllie Moroney

My Fear of Milk, Part 2

For me, a fear food is something that before, after, or during eating, gives me intense anxiety. If I'm in a social context, the people around me might not notice at all. My experience of anxiety comes in the form of obsessive circular thoughts.

When I was in high school and college, I would go into super extrovert sanguine mode to hide my discomfort. I was dismissed as being "hyper" or a "spaz." In reality, I was in emotional distress, but unable to express my needs. Being loud allowed me process the anxiety and angst I was feeling in a moment, but it never addressed the underlying problems nor helped me get to the root of what was going on.

This way of coping also gave me the attention I was really desperate for. When you are in a moment of anxiety, you need connection, comfort, and attunement to bring you back to stability and safety. The task of every individual is to learn how to find this grounding on our own, but we all inevitably need help sometimes. Reflecting back on my community and support system growing up, there were many people present in my life but very few who were present to me.

Being the star athlete of my family and community, I was seen by all but known by very very few. I was recognized for my accomplishments and invested in for my talent, yet I did not feel loved and accepted for just being me. As a result, I spent my whole childhood attentive and attuned to what I needed to do to be able to maintain my spot on the pedestal.

As I was having struggles with body images, fear foods, and disordered eating, I was so disintegrated from

Some of my fear foods coincided with various "food allergies" I had. For years I had food intolerances and IBS– dairy and gluten sensitivities, banana, avocado, cantaloupe, coffee.

When I started to face my wounds, I felt relief in my whole being. My whole body started to relax and years of stored stress melted away along with the food sensitivities.

FUN FACT: After not eating a banana for 15 years, I started eating bananas again about 2 years ago. It was a somewhat terrifying experience at first, as the last time I was in close proximity to someone else eating a banana my throat started to close up. Now I can eat bananas without any problems!

It's not that my fear foods have completely disappeared. Before eating a plate of pasta, I still feel anxious. Sometimes I'll choose not to eat dessert. Sometimes I opt for a more nutrient dense food to satisfy a craving without provoking anxiety. Other times I over eat in a stressful moment.

The difference between back then and now– Today I have the tools and grounding to be able to prayerfully move through my emotions.

Experiencing anxiety is not sinful. In fact, Jesus experienced fear and anxiety as he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. Christ was the master at letting His emotions move Him closer to the His Father. Christ did not repress His emotions. Christ did not indulge His emotions. Christ confronted His emotions and had dominion over them so that He could draw closer to His Father.

When I experience an anxiety, whether it be with food or work or whatever, I now see the stressor as a check engine light, revealing to me a place in my heart where I can more deeply connect with my Father.

Overcoming a fear of food is not simply eating the foods that cause you anxiety. I do not subscribe to the idea that one should not have restrictions and limits when it comes to diet. Like all things, we need boundaries and limits grounded in truth and goodness to find true freedom.

I'm not a professional– just a person sharing my experience.

Overcoming my fear foods looked like conversations with trusted people deeply invested in my story. A spiritual director, therapist, spiritual mother, and good friend. These conversations helped me see the greater story I had lived and where I felt like God was leading me.

This process involved turning over every stone in my story and asking myself: What are the things that are serving me and what are not? How am I coping with stress? What do I need to feel safe? Where have I been? Where is God leaving me now?

There were probably more questions, but these were the FAQs that helped me look at my choices and behaviors with thoughtful curiosity. I started to wonder with the Lord, what were the things I needed to fill my life with so I could get closer to Him.

I experienced a lot of analysis paralysis– overthinking every decision and having difficulty moving forward. Yet, different realities of life forced my hand (Job losses, break ups, bills to pay!) Though I was unsure and afraid, my reality required me to move forward. I learned I didn't need all the information nor all the assurance to take the next step. I realized I could make mistakes and continue along with path.

This was something my soccer career taught me I could NEVER do. Making a mistake meant losing at life. I treated life, on/off the field, like a high-stakes championship game. A relationship with the Father helped me realize we can make mistakes and always count on grace to help us back on the path.

Overcoming the fear foods has been a lot of trial and error. It's been freeing to eat an entire bowl of pasta with bread and dessert. It's been satisfying to integrate intermittent fasting as a way to feel more energized and give my stomach time to digest. It's been healing to emotionally eat in a stressful moment, then later on treat myself with gentleness instead of contempt.

As I said, a huge realization I have made through this journey of healing is realizing that perfection is not possible this side of Heaven. The perfection I seek as a Christian, is one in which in discovering all these broken places of my heart, I discover more places I can surrender to God and allow His love to greater reign in my life. The on-going struggle is not evidence of my lack of effort, but rather guide posts to allow me to more deeply unite with Christ in my suffering. Instead of posturing in the places of my imperfection, I humble myself before the Lord and allow His grace to cover all the broken places.

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