Yes, this is something that most kids learn to do from the age of about 1 or so, and yet here I am, repeating the process. And what can I say, it feels kinda weird.
One thing I have to admit is that ever since the start of my ED, me and food have been in a funny relationship. Either I ended up being overobsessive about it – getting just the right balance of calories, food groups and nutrients, or not thinking about it enough and not fueling my body enough or with the right foods – and suffering the consequences as a result.. Occasionally I managed to maintain the delicate balance between the two – something that definitely didn’t come easy, or as often as I would like.
But the truth of the matter is, that throughout my recovery journey there has rarely been a moment where my eating was normal. As much as I tried to tell myself that I was free of most of my ED hangups and mindsets and rules – there was always an underlying little voice in the back of my mind that controlled what I did or didn’t do. Case in point – every time I had a treat I was very aware that I was “allowing” myself to eat this particular food. It wasn’t the spontaneous eating for enjoyment that most people are able to attain, it was a carefully calculated decision. So although things might have looked normal to an outside observer, in my mind it wasn’t necessarily so – and sadly it took me quite a while to realize that.
Through this past semester at uni and my reoccurring stomach issues I lost almost every semblance of normalicy with my eating. Eating became something I limited to a bare minimum, because I didn’t want to have to deal with the pain and the additional stress of having to focus on my studies AND what I was putting into my body. That coupled with me trying to eat the cheapest/quickly prepared food led me to a point where I was eating a diet so unbalanced I cringe to think about it. In my heart of hearts I knew I was doing something wrong, but I was just too proccupied to stop.
Do I regret not having paid attention to this before? Most definitely. My health has suffered, studying became much harder, and there are things I missed out on because my physical state didn’t allow for it. But I believe that there is a silver lining behind every cloud, and being at the place I am today mean I pretty much need to re-learn how to eat from scratch.
Trying to find what I can eat that will help me gain weight, but not leave me in pain for hours afterwards is something that pushed me to try a few new approaches when it comes to food. I decided to let go of ALL my food rules (even the healthy ones) and just eat WHATEVER I was craving – be it candy bars, ice-cream, cake, cheese – anything and everything. There were no good or bad foods , because I just needed to get as much of them in my body as possible.
So during the last few weeks I’ve eaten more “junk” then I have in the last few months. This means a sugary, “junk food” treat every second day or so. And although I’m not sure if it’s the best approach to have taken, I don’t regret it. I’ve tried lots of new foods, had my share of stomach aches and days I felt absolutely nasty. I have crazy sugar cravings when I get to hungry, and occasionally have eaten things that I felt honestly guilty about afterwards. But in the process I have learned, and I am learning a lot of things about myself and my body.
I had one of these for the first time since my recovery
I’m learning what treats I truly enjoy, and which simply aren’t worth it. I’m discovering that my body knows it’s own limits – and after a day of eating less than nutritious food I CRAVE something fresh and healthy. Eating too much ice-cream will leave me feeling nausious and sickly – whereas eating the same amount of soft serve will make me feel great. Both have their place in a balanced diet, and I can’t honestly say one will ever 100% substitute the other – but they have a different purpose.
I’m learning what eating too much sugar and too little protein just leaves me craving more sugar – with the unpleasant effects of sugar highs and lows. I’m learning that junk food can never substitute real food, at the same time trying to “healthify” every craving only leads to overindulging the next time around. I’m learning that sometimes it’s important to stick to a general time schedule and meal plan, and sometimes you just need to listen to your body and eat – even if it’s not “time ” yet; because if not you end up overeating later on.
This process hasn’t been easy – there are days I have felt guilty, sick, and pushed to the brink. Thee are days I just wanted to throw in the towel at this whole “weight gain thing” And if there’s one thing I know for sure, eating junk is NOT the way to for a steady weight gain. But I keep reminding myself that this is a process, and I WILL make mistakes along the way. At the same time, as long as I learn from the mistakes and keep pushing forward – I will someday truly learn to eat normally again.
During summer break my main goal will be getting to a better place health wise, which will mean a need to focus a lot more on my food intake and diet then I have been. It’s somewhat of a daunting thought, but at the same time I think I have potential to move further in my recovery than ever before. And I look forward to sharing my lessons, mistakes and experiences with all of you. Because it’s gonna be one hell of a roller coaster ride, but I know it will be 100% worth it in the end.
Because food is yummy, it’s a necessary part of life and it’s NOT something that should in any way control our lives.
Any thoughts, tips suggestions?
Does anyone have any meal plans or food exchange programs that could help me find work out a weight gain plan that will work for me?