Keep it in check.

I think balance is the key to living a happy life. It would make sense though, seeing as we are surrounded by balance. Nature is full of examples of perfect  balance – night/day, heat/cold, summer/winter, sunshine/rain. Without these elements our lives would be incomplete – they would be lacking something.  They say you can’t appreciate the day until you’ve gone through the night, you can never appreciate health unless you’ve been sick. You’ll never know how wonderful the sunshine is until you’ve weathered the rain and storms.

Despite this philosophy I find my life has not always been prone towards balance. I was always a perfectionist – and thus had a very “all or nothing at all” mentality. I would work till I could barely stand, study till I couldn’t think straight and exercise till I had strength to do little else then colapse. Whatever I did I wanted to be the best at it. Very rarely was this done because I wanted to somehow “impress” those around me. No, I did it because I thought it’s what I needed to do. On some deep, primary level I think I must have believe that being perfect would make me happy.

All these tendencies escalated as I became entrenched in an ED. There was no more joy, spontaneity or sparkle in my life. Everything was meticulously thought of, pre-planned and executed. I lost that sparkle, that joy that comes from trying something new or different. The joy was litterlay sucked out of my life and everything became  a drugery. At this point I was literally existing – not living.

Recovery was the best thing I’ve ever done. Slowly but surely light crept back into my life. I started smiling and laughing again, I learned that there was more important things than food and weight. I started the road of acceptance of who I was and I learned to appreciate that. I learned to say no when I was asked to do something I genuinely couldn’t, I learned failing at something wasn’t the end of the world, I learned that not doing everything on my do-to list didn’t make me a worse person. In short – I began to learn balance.

Today however I realized something. I was out enjoying the sunshine (summer- I welcome you with open arms) with my youngest brothers and dad. We had some business to take care of in town and on the way to our next appointment we stopped for ice-cream. Or rather they did. I stood by the sidelines and since I wasn’t offered any I didn’t insist. A few minutes later my dad asked “I know you’ll probably say no, but do you want some ice-cream?”.

I froze. The first thing I thought of was – “Man, I have no idea how much sugar and artificial flavoring is in that. I don’t want to pump my body with THAT”. Then I stopped to think “Do I WANT this ice-cream?” I wasn’t really craving it, but I wouldn’t mind something cool and refreshing. And my surprisingly first reaction was the deciding factor in me enjoying a scoop of strawberry ice-cream.

My final decision was based on the fact that I realized the first thing that popped into my mind was a sign of a lack of balance somewhere. Since when was food nothing more then fuel? Since when did everything have to be 100% healthy in order for us to eat it? Since when have small treats like this stop being a part of my diet?  I realized that my healthy eating – although motivated by the right reasons – has potential to become extreme and if I don’t make exeptions once in a while.

I think it’s an important point to remember, especially for those who have had ED’s in the past. Healthy eating is great – but BALANCE is crucial  for it to continue to benefit you. When you find it hard to enjoy treats and others indulge in on a regular basis – things are getting out of hand.

I’m happy I realized this now, because I always thought I was immune to that sort of thing. Sure others could become obsessive about healthy eating – but I wasn’t one of those people. But as soon as I felt that apprehension over eating ice-cream , I knew it was wrong.

Food should never be feared. It’s good to make smart food choices, but once food becomes our enemy and not our friend – something’s gotta change.

What are your thought on the matter?

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10 comments

  1. AAHH! This was AMAZING! It truly was girl! I was really enjoying the first part of this post about the balance, and when you got to the ice cream, I was like, “Ah, now I see where she is going!” Reading that made me sooo happy. When I’d visit my family in Hungary over the summer, I’d eat those yummy ice creams from the little street carts that were seemingly on every corner. Somtimes, I’d have 2 or 3 in one day! During my last trip in ’09, I didn’t, because by then I was already starting my ED behaviors. Looking back, I realize that my daily ice cream or three was OK! I was on vacation, and I rarely ate ice cream at home. What I was doing (enjoying myself on vacation and eating junk food) was a perfectly healthy form of balance.

    Anyway, I am so happy for you for eating it. I’m sure your body and mind really appreciate it! (And now I see what that ice cream comment was about on my last post! ;-))

  2. Too true! Food is a fuel for our body and mind, but it is also a way of socializing, a way of enjoying our time… It should be healthy, nurturing and well-balanced, but it should alway be tasty and if it is not 100 percent healthy all the time – well, who cares? I used to be pretty scared of pieces of chocolate, avocadoes, ice-creams etc., because of all the fat and of the compulsive thoughts that came to my mind right after eating those. But I grew to learn that if my body if I am sometimes craving something or if I gou for lunch wth friends and they asked me to have a dessert with them, there is nothing wrong with saying “ok, let´s go for it!”
    Balance is really the key to everything. Ice-cream may not be healthy, but it is tasty, refreshing and it is just an ice-cream. I am so glad you enjoyed your piece of it!
    This is a nice post, a reminder of what we are worth and that we should nourish our body but also our mind 🙂

  3. There is just as much a chemical and nutritional enjoyment and healthy balance to eating as there is a psychological well-being aspect to it and if we can’t enjoy little treats now and then I don’t think that’s very healthy either. I believe there’s a difference between not wanting some kind of heavily processed garbage and a high-quality cookie and that not everyone achieves the same amount of pleasure from eating something as disgusting, but when you’re not able to eat the processed treat ever, whether you want it, or just want to taste it, because of some irrational fear that your body is going to implode, that’s when it’s unhealthy. Our bodies are amazing machines and the liver itself does so many crazy biological things it would be silly for us to assume a little bit of artificial food coloring is going to harm us when we abstain from it 99% of the time and have an ice cream one Saturday afternoon. 😉

  4. Extremely wonderful post! It’s always so nice to come across people who have such a refreshing view on healthy eating and balance, and of course, to see someone who is happy in recovery, and enjoying foods that WANT rather than those that they think they SHOULD have.

    Healthy eating is great, and I love eating whole foods because they genuinely make me feel good, but I also love the occasional indulgence and I think both are needed in order to live a truly healthy life, because we can’t ignore our mental health in favor of our physical health. And I know that things like ice cream are DEFINITELY good for our mental health 😀

  5. Yes!! You’re so right about the black and white thinking. At my worst, I was so intrenched in having everything be “just so” that I missed out on so much that was in between the black and white. I always try to think of what I am eating as something that is going to benefit my body. That huge glass of soy milk? My bones are sighing with relief as it trickles down my throat. That recovery smoothie? easing into my muscles as they smile.

  6. I’m so proud of you for getting that ice cream. For all the reasons you outlined, that would be very scary for me as well. But all eating does not have to be super healthy, everything is fine in moderation and treats are a part of a normal diet. A balence is key(:

  7. Completely. 100% agree. There should be no”bad food”, I don’t think it helps people to view food intuitively. Our diet should be one of moderation, if you want ice cream or chocolate…have it. I’m so proud of you for going for the ice cream because you fancied it! It’s so great! 🙂 xx

  8. Pingback: Eats (vegan and other). | A new start


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