• Jason Wood

Doughnuts: Sweet memories, sweet freedom!

Why a doughnut you ask? It’s an interesting logo choice for a movement aimed at raising awareness for an eating disorder. Well, a doughnut represents freedom. It shows the full cycle of my eating disorder battle, full pun intended!

Food plays a central role in my earliest childhood memories. What is the first food you remember eating? I always go back to a doughnut with my dad. My childhood was unique in the sense that I spent a lot of time at the racetrack. An average Saturday evening found us at the now-defunct Geneva Lakes Kennel Club, table 706, right by the finish line. According to my folks, it was the best table in the house. Dad hustled us into the car and we made the ride north across the Wisconsin border for an evening of wagering, racing and laughing. Those evenings are my nostalgia. While my thoughts on dog racing have certainly changed over the years, I will always cherish those nights at table 706.


I got to be with my heroes, my parents. Totally blind to the challenges life held in store. My race was just beginning but my parent’s races were nearing the finish line. Reminiscing about those evenings is bittersweet but gets more sweet and less bitter with time. Memories that serve as reminders of just how much love was shared between us.


So you’re probably wondering, what the hell does a night at the track have to do with a doughnut? Well those delicious treats were our sweet nightcap. Back in those days there weren’t a lot of options for a late night snack, especially on the dark roads between the track and home. Yes, the 90s were tough! But there was a little doughnut shop that was open 24 hours. The smells of freshly baked doughnuts drifted through the parking lot.


Inside, a wall of doughnuts greeted us. All the old school classics like peanut, toasted coconut, sugar raised and classic sprinkles. Oh, and don’t forget about those messy jelly filled ones my dad would always tell me I didn’t like. I didn’t like mess as a kid or now! But that never stopped me from dusting myself with the powdered sugar that flowed off those bad boys like snowflakes in the winter!


Most nights, we stopped there on the way home and picked out a baker's dozen! This was love, this was joy, this was happiness to my innocent mind. The freedom to make my selections with no guilt or worry. The aromas, the doughnut wall, the smiles on my parents’ faces after a fun night together. I will never eat another doughnut that tastes as good in my life as those Saturday night delights. This was pure freedom!


And the fun continued the next morning, when I would jump out of bed and devour a doughnut or two on my dad’s lap while making fun plans for the day ahead. It’s always easier to hop out of bed when a box of doughnuts is in the kitchen!

Doughnuts didn’t just make an appearance after the track. In fact, there was another amazing doughnut shop right around the corner from my dad’s company. In the summer, I would go to work with him, which meant getting up at 3am. I’d fall back to sleep in the car until the fresh smells of love and sugar tickled my nose awake. Doughnuts at sunrise with dad, a memory I can still savor.


This love around doughnuts stayed with me during my early years of high school. Just ask any of my friends about piling in the car or van for our late night runs to the Krispy Kreme. A free, fresh glazed doughnut! Heck yeah! Looking back, doughnuts were like a centerpiece to fun!


These were the days before the pain. The days before orthorexia appeared and shielded my eyes and mind. Love for food, love for life, love for myself. As my disease progressed, doughnuts quickly became an enemy. The worst of the worst bad guys, like a foreign terrorist on the FBI’s most wanted list. I had lost my dad, lost my mom. Gone were the days of innocence and gone were the doughnuts I so enjoyed.


At one point last summer, my husband and I went out to try a new doughnut shop here in Denver. We used to get doughnuts a lot before the disease took full hold. But now thanks to orthorexia’s stranglehold, I feared this outing all week. I woke up early and worked out harder and longer to try to quiet the critic in my head. Didn’t work. When Matt came out

with a box of doughnuts, I just wanted to cry but I tried to put on a brave face. We walked to the park where I forcibly ate one bite of each doughnut. They tasted amazing and brought back memories of childhood but the guilt and remorse quickly drowned out the nostalgia and joy. I watched as Matt enjoyed the doughnuts without hesitation. He seemed so strong and so confident. Why can’t that be me? Why have I lost so much including the strength to eat a damn doughnut?


I am happy to report that was the last time a doughnut scared me. Through recovery I am now beginning to reunite with doughnuts. Don’t get me wrong, the orthorexic thoughts are still there, but I am learning to take it one joyful bite at a time. Focusing on the joy and love I felt on those nights at the track with my parents. They may be gone now but luckily doughnuts and my memories are not. That is one thing life and especially an eating disorder cannot take from me.


So there you have it! The doughnut is a symbol of my return to happiness and to the innocence of childhood. It represents freedom to eat intuitively, to express myself and to love myself. What is your freedom food? The opportunities to stop off at the roadside doughnut shop with my parents ended abruptly, a reminder of how short our time is but I refuse to let some eating disorder continue to rob me of that same opportunity with Matt or anyone else. So the next time you see me, let's grab a doughnut. I think I’ll go with the blueberry cake!

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