I open the coffee shop door, thinking about my drink order. I slide in silently behind three people; just enough time left to think about what order I’m going to blurt out to the under-enthused teen covered in tattoos, with bleach blonde hair and three piercings.

Noticing the speed of the transactions, I begin my daily mental debate.

Do I want another black coffee?

No, what I really want is a soy latte. I love soy lattes. I used to drink those all the time.

No, Maddy- you can’t have soy because it’s terrible for you. You can’t have a latte either because those are unnecessary calories. It’s pointless sugar. It’s not even considered a clean food. That would be a cheat meal. It’s only Monday, you can’t have your cheat meal already.

Okay, black coffee it is. Stevia, Splenda or Truvia?

None, Madelyn. Splenda is crap and Truvia is too. Remember that article you read about it?

Okay so….Stevia it is. Wait. This coffee shop’s Stevia isn’t natural. I can’t have that brand. Who knows what it will do to my gut lining?!

I wonder…did I bring my special Stevia from Whole Foods with me?

I fumbled around my purse pocket, the one I stuff with ten Stevia packets at a time for coffee emergencies.

No, dangit.

Okay, just a black coffee. What about cream?

Hmm definitely not whipping cream, but possibly half and half?

No, no, the waitress told me last time that their brand isn’t organic. I can’t have all those hormones and antibiotics and whatever else in there put into my body just for a cup of black coffee.

I glided my tongue over my smooth teeth, trying to prepare for this feeling to be fleeting. Agh, I just brushed my teeth. A latte would go down so much better. I really don’t want hot black coffee. It’s so hot outside. I’d love something lighter.

But I’m exhausted and need the coffee. I haven’t been sleeping well because of these five AM workouts. I need the coffee to get my head in the game for work today. Maybe I should just add one shot of espresso into it.

I stumble to the counter awkwardly, glancing at the cold bananas sitting by the fridge next to the Kind bars and chocolate covered almonds.

Everything looks so tasty. I’m such a fake and a phony for wanting to munch on something like that. Maybe later on in the week when it’s closer to Friday I can treat myself to more carbohydrates.

Like on a Friday. Friday I do legs. I can afford the extra bananas and chocolate covered almonds then.

Or a latte. I can have one or the other.

Looking at the sweet hostess, I order a medium black coffee.

“Room for cream, hun?” she asked me, punching in the black coffee code on her computer.

“No thanks.” I said back.

She smiles and poors me a cup, punches my punch card and I retreat to my chair in the corner.

There’s a cute guy looking in my general direction but I avoid eye contact.

Pulling out my phone, I open up My Fitness Pal and log in my medium black coffee.

5 calories.

I could probably afford a couple more coffees after I’m done with this one. That would log me at 15 calories, and combined with my oatmeal from this morning I could make it to noon with only 200 calories.

The boy across the shop was still glancing over his shoulder at me, waiting one second too long. Just until I looked up from my phone to make a brief moment of eye contact, and then again I broke away.

Looking back down at my phone, I think about the rest of the day and what I have planned.

With the glances from the guy across the shop increasing, I felt more anxiety.

He was cute. I could tell from his kind face that he wanted to introduce himself to me.

To avoid any and all reason for him to look up, I decided to plan the rest of my day’s calories out.

Chicken here, broccoli there, a couple protein shakes, a workout, a protein bar, some more veggies.

Okay, there’s my caloric total.

Got it.

A huge sense of calmness washes over me.

I feel almost like…it doesn’t even matter how I spend the rest of my day, working or not. I feel so stress-free.

I feel accomplished. I feel in control. My addiction was fed.

And with that…I looked up at the handsome man with a confident, yet conditional, smile. I decided, there’s every reason in the world to shine with confidence.

I was confident because I felt in control, at last.

It’s true that in my diet obsessed days, every emotion I experienced was determined by food.

Years later, I look back at this old version of myself with empathy, compassion and love.

It was all a part of the journey.

I call it an addiction because in most respects, it was. It brought me a particular feeling of happiness that I couldn’t “find” elsewhere- it gave me a false feeling of so much control that without it, I felt lost and even empty. There are addictions far worse than this, but to me, it was a coping mechanism for the unpredictable aspects of life.

How about you?

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