For individuals dealing with or recovering from disordered eating, the term fear food might be a familiar one. For the unfamiliar, the phrase is used to describe anxiety-inducing foods. That anxiety is often derived from unfounded notions about how food might impact your body. Fear foods differ from person to person. One individual's fear might be a banana while another's could be olive oil. Despite this range, most fear foods have one thing in common: someone, at some point, decided to place a moral standard on their consumption. Our society has created a normative hierarchy for food. It is a hierarchy based solely on nutritional or caloric content and devoid of factors, such as mental health or general enjoyment, that might contribute to a food's overall value. I hope that through this challenge I can further detach myself from the strict "good" or "bad" binary I historically attached to food. 

I have written about my food struggles for Spoon University before. While I have grown increasingly comfortable with a range of foods, this challenge pushed me out of my comfort zone. I decided to invite one of my best friends to join me. Maya, who has been incredibly supportive throughout my journey, has been vocal about her disordered eating on her Foodsta as well. Although our fear foods differ, we decided to indulge in some of the most prevalent anxiety-inducing foods we know. 


We began with two delectable personal pizzas from Melo's in St. Louis. Pizza, I would argue, is a pretty common fear food. However, it's one that both Maya and I are (mostly) comfortable eating -- we have a personal pie almost weekly. It is worth noting that it took me a while to get to this point. For me, the best way to get over a fear food is by slowly reintroducing it into my life. For pizza, start with a slice or two, and try not to overwhelm yourself on the first go. While it is necessary to challenge yourself during recovery, it is equally important not to beat yourself up along the way. Focus on both big and little wins. 


A quick walk from my apartment sits the most delightful vegan cafe, Seedz. So, it's easy to stop by for their sweet treats whenever I desire. I have been vegan for four years, and there is a lot about the community that I love. However, intertwined with it is some unfortunate (and mostly unsubstantiated) rhetoric around diets/weight loss. When I first went vegan, I would make almost everything I ate. It was another way to control calories and ensure I was eating the "right" foods. At Seedz, I don't ask for the ingredient list or nutritional content. That's why this task can be so challenging. I don't know if this doughnut has cane sugar or white flour instead of their 'healthier alternatives.' I can't track my calorie intake or macros. At some point, I learned that's okay. Now, I just let myself enjoy these doughnuts' chocolatey goodness. 


Who doesn't love a classic chocolate chip cookie? Warm and gooey, Justine_snacks' vegan take on Levain cookies was so nice I baked them twice. Unlike Seedz droughts, I knew exactly what went into this classic cookie. Cane sugar, white flour, and coconut oil to boot. And trust me, the result was delicious (despite messing up the recipe a few times). 

French Fries

French fries are one of my all-time favorite foods for obvious reasons. Still, indulging in these crispy treats is pretty nerve-wracking. For years french fries sat at the top of my naughty list. Diet and wellness culture pervaded my mind. At times, it is difficult to relinquish their remnants. There is an eerie comfort linked with diet culture. But I promise you the joy of midnight fries with best friends is so much better than that safety net. 

Alcohol-infused Ice cream

Nestled right by Seedz cafe is Clementines Creamery, home of some delicious and unique boozy ice cream. Clementines does serve regular ice cream (my favorite being the Chai flavor) but I decided to spice things up with some Cider Sorbet. Sweet, bubbly, and refreshing, I could not recommend this flavor more (though you might need a few scoops to get you tipsy). 

This experience was, at times, a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. However, the push to expand my palate and renounce society's normative approach to food is one I'll never regret.