Hellooo there everybody! So. I know that a while ago I wrote a post telling you all about fear foods and overcoming the last few bits of my issues with food. Recently I have wanted to write a follow up, and I haven’t really been able to focus on any other posts but this one. Which means I am now writing it for you. Then I can get typing some other things for you as well.
It was very hard for me to admit that mentally I still struggle sometimes- because I genuinely love food, and love moving my body, and try to aim for balance. However, maybe 30-50% of the time I am not where I want to be, and I am not in a very balanced place. But I’m working on it. A lot has happened in the few months since that first post I wrote on the subject of fear foods, and I think that I’ve realised I have more to work on than I thought. So this is my update, which I’ve been planning to do for a long time but didn’t quite have the courage to, and so shall have to bullet pointed because I have way too much to tell you all…
The GOOD Stuff
- Began attending counselling again, and a support group to help me finally tackle the mental aspects of ED. This has been a HUGE help, and having other people around me who get it, and who can help, is a great comfort.
- Some fear foods I have tackled: sugar-free flavoured iced coffee, subway sandwiches, foods with refined sugar in them, pizza at a restaurant, a cinnamon bun, enchiladas made at home with some cheese on top (the cheese was the bit I was scared of), home-cooked pasta, hot chocolate, protein bars, food cooked by someone else….
- Some of the above foods I have since been eating on a regular basis, some of them I discovered I didn’t actually like after having them a few times, or will only be eating very rarely if I truly fancy them because they weren’t as good as I imagined (hot chocolate, cinnamon bun). Some I discovered actually made me feel ill. These foods I made sure to try at least three times to check it was the food, then accepted it just didn’t agree with me (this was the protein bar, which I became scared of due to their still being an “unhealthy health food”. However, I’ve tried a few different brands and found some I do like- such as protein cookies- which I will buy again. Not as a health food, but just as a packaged cookie that I want to eat).
- I began to try and scale hunger, and spot emotional hunger and eat according to the first. I also began eating what I fancied- well, trying to, things take time- and not trying to choose the “better” option.
- Disrupted routines have taught me I could be a bit more flexible. Going home for Easter meant working with my family’s schedules too, and not doing my own thing all the time. It’s helped me see that maybe I could move my gym trips around a bit, or wait a bit longer to eat, or eat out sometimes. I won’t lie, these still aren’t things I relish putting into practice, but I know I can do them if I feel the need to.
- I tried to do a “lean bulk”- it didn’t turn out so well. BUT! I learnt I can eat more than I thought, and that having done so my performance in the gym really went up. This upping portions was something that was still a tiny bit scary until then. As a result of doing so I upped my weights, I had more energy, I wasn’t thinking of food as much (when I began recovering weight-wise these things also happened, and so I took these as a good sign). And then I pushed it a bit too far and decide to stop with actively bulking, as you’ll soon see. I just wasn’t ready for it, and having tried it, I don’t think actively bulking is something I’m even interested in right now.
Annnnd the stuff that hasn’t gone so great (but which I now know I need to work on)…
- At first I got myself very stressed about trying to figure out what I wanted to eat, and beating myself up if I misinterpreted these signs, and ended up eating too much. It’s HARD, but something I know I needed to go through. I’m now doing pretty well at interpreting what I want, with some slip ups because of course things don’t happen overnight.
- Funny anecdote that I laugh at now, but at the time nearly made me cry in some toilets: worked myself up so much about getting a hot chocolate that I ordered one with marshmallows and cream, then twigged after finishing it that marshmallows aren’t vegetarian. I am pescetarian (don’t eat meat, just fish and veggies). I then starting feeling bad that I’d eaten the boiled up bones of an animal, the guilt of which, combined with previous mental exertion in the stress, launched me into binge mode. Tried to sit it out, succeeded for all of 15 minutes (hey, still an achievement) went to go buy the specific thing I wanted to binge on. The place I went to was out of stock of said food. This was long enough to wake me up from binge-mode. Locked myself in some toilets and nearly cried. Emerged from toilets and bought a cup of tea. Ended up drinking cup of tea, absolutely knackered, in a café where the staff were playing “I will survive”. I’m not sure if this was life having a good laugh at my expense, or trying to encourage me in a really twisted, ironic way.
- Speaking of which: BINGING. Oh. My. GOD this has really come back with force since Easter. After almost a year of being non-existent I have binged a total of four times since Easter Sunday. I suppose that maybe I’ve begun binging again in response to the fact my life is changing very quickly right now. I finish university in roughly 3 weeks. I have never been so happy as when I began to attend university. I’ve never felt so comfortable- I found my place (books, creativity, an amazing arty and foodie city, people who loved reading and learning) and had the added benefit of having escaped where my ED began. It was here that my binging finally began to tail out after my first year. Now I’m finishing uni, and returning home. I’m beginning to feel a massive sense of loss at leaving. I’ve made amazing friends here, and soon I’m going to be leaving them. I am returning home, and for me there are numerous “triggers” back home which I never learnt to deal with- because I basically ran away from them. There is no support group I know of back home, and I rarely confide in people when I’m struggling as it makes me feel weak and like a burden (anyone reading this feeling the same, this is NOT TRUE but I know it can feel true right?) To be very real with you all, I am struggling mentally to keep picking myself back up and not just re-engage with the binge-restrict cycle. Even if I am not doing so well with the being able to stop binging sometimes, I am managing to carry on as normal the next day though. I need to discuss coping tactics with my counsellor. It’s on my list.
- TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Do this to recover, do that to recover. You need 3000kcal if you have ever restricted (so that would be me), you need to be intuitive and listen to hunger and not restrict but not force it if you have engaged in binging (also me). You need to stop going to the gym. You can go to the gym. Do a bulk. Do a cut. Do neither. Different nutritionists online giving advice, different PTs, different YouTubers who are recovered and into fitness (I’ve since chosen ones I find inspiring and once again banned myself from watching influences I know aren’t so good for me- I regularly have to do a social media cull, and re-fill me feeds with the good influences). SO. MUCH. STUFF. I have both restricted and binged in the past. I’m not restricting anymore, my weight is stable, but my fear foods and fears surrounding food are both based in restriction and binging. So which do I tackle first? Having thought over the above, I think that is where my issue lies, and many of my fear foods are foods I am unable to eat without feeling the desire to binge on.
- The very, very bad idea of doing a “lean bulk”. HA. Things are never so simple right? The idea of simply eating a bit more, and upping my portions was a GREAT idea. One I am really learning from. HOWEVER. I was still counting kcal, and I am still struggling with stopping doing this. If I didn’t feel I had eaten too much whilst doing this bulk, then I would then eat simply for the sake of it. Undermining all the work I did on recognising if I was hungry. This eating past full consistently, probably contributed to triggering the first binge. I also began to feel very sluggish and bloated and regretted this venture very very much. I was ignoring hunger/ fullness signals, not eating mindfully, and foods I wouldn’t usually have in were available at home, making the binge all too easy. How mixed this experience was.
What am I trying to do to you with all of this rambling? Well, I am showing you recovery is definitely NOT a consistently upward journey. You start on one issue, and sometimes discover another. It is very messy, very confusing, and also…very worth it. Struggle happens as you progress. I’ve discovered a bit more freedom since my last post, and I love it. It’s also highlighted some stuff I really need to work on, where I am not doing so well. I am a very positive person, and so I’ve tried to make this as positive as possible, but I have had some really tough moments since I last posted on the topic. Which is why this is now a recovery post. Since binging has come out to play I’ve realised that this is clearly deeper than me just trying some fear foods. Especially since many of these are linked to binging. But you know what? 80% of the time, I know I can do this. I am sick of, but also very good at, picking myself up time after time. I am exceedingly grateful I have the drive to do this, even if it is hard. And I want you to know that if you’re in a similar position, you can pick yourself up (grab a hand or several if you need to- I am) too.
Should I keep going with these updates- are they of any help or interest at all? Does anyone reading have any similar experience or tips they want to throw out there? If so, get yourself into the comments and start typing …