One of the most dreadful, ongoing battles I’ve experienced with my doctors in recent years is my inability to gain weight. At every appointment, during every procedure, and with every hospital stay come two words that, despite knowing they’re coming, still bring an awful sense of dread: “You’re skinny.”
Ah, yes. Those two infamous words most girls long to hear is often the root of my deepest frustrations. I’m skinny, I know. In fact, I’m too skinny and not proud of that, I might add. Gaining weight has been a constant battle throughout my life, one that always feels like one step forward and two steps back.
On top of my struggle to pack on the pounds, I also have the world’s worst gastrointestinal problems. Between severe acid reflux that medication can’t fix, motility issues, and a sensitivity to every little thing I put in my stomach, food and I haven’t had the best track record. Although according to old photographs neatly tucked into photo albums in my basement, there was a brief period when I was … wait for it … slightly overweight. Unfortunately, I was maybe 6 or 7 and hadn’t a single care to my body weight.
Today is much different. Today, I wish I could I could gain five pounds instead of gaining a couple, getting an acid reflux attack (vomiting, diarrhea, and feeling nauseous for about 36 hours), and reverting back to where I started. I wish I could find an equal balance between eating high caloric foods and healthy foods that are going to nourish my body. And, well, I wish doughnuts were nutritious, but I digress.
In this everlasting quest to gain weight, I’ve found people aren’t as receptive to the struggles that come along with it. They’ll drop phrases like, “I wish I had your problem,” or “If only I could eat ice cream for breakfast like you,” unbeknownst of the repercussions of their words. What they don’t understand is how equally difficult it is to gain weight as it is to lose it. Don’t get me wrong, ice cream for breakfast does sound like a dream come true. But, when you’re in a never-ending rat race of trying to meet your daily caloric goals, it gets old real quick. Meanwhile, I don’t hold these phrases against them. Even though it reminds me of the fact that I am skinny and in need of some meat on my bones, despite how I look, I also have to honor the fact that I’m still doing my best.
I could choose to sit in front of the mirror all day and pick out my skinny imperfections. (Note: Sometimes I do. I’m human and not perfect.) I could choose to let people’s misconceptions of gaining weight tear me down. I could choose to tell myself I’ll always be a failure because of how difficult and unrewarding this journey has been for me. But instead, I choose to fuel this body of mine regardless of the struggles we face together.
As I lie here and type this column on my iPhone, next to me are three items: coffee to keep these words flowing, a cinnamon chip muffin loaded with butter, and a homemade chocolate drink loaded with nutrient supplements and 400 glorious calories. Eating well isn’t something I do just at mealtime. It’s something I do all day, and every day, to sustain myself.
This food journey has been anything but easy, but I have to remember: Even when I look in the mirror, I need to cherish my body, for it is the only place I will ever reside. No matter what the number on the scale tells me, my body has worked incredibly hard and incredibly well to keep me alive. And, at the end of the day, the best food I could ever feed it is love.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.