One thing I’ve learned through all my experiences during recovery is that it is one winding journey. It takes you to exhilitating hights and crushing lows. There are times when everything is so topsy turvey and confusing that you have no idea if you’re on the right road anymore. But as you continue down your path, you find more and more clarity and sense in what you’re doing, and then end goal becomes much more clear.
I think one of the most confusing aspects of recovery in physical terms is doing things that feel or seem “wrong”. All around us we are bombarded by ideals and opinion of what “right” is in terms of health and taking care of our bodies. And since the physical part of recovery is mainly focused on restoring health, this can be rather problematic. All the messages around us are mainly about “eating clean”, portion control, how to avoid overeating etc. But sometimes in recovery you need to force yourself to “overeat” in order to restore your body weight, you need to eat a bit of junk from time to time – for both physical and mental reasons. You need to learn to let go of strict portion control and all the rules you had about food and re-learn how to intuitively eat again. You do these things, and often are left wondering “Am I doing the right thing?”
Today I had one of those moments. I’ve been in a bit of a stomach funk all day (story of my life), but I knew I was going to be faced with a big challenge – physically and mentally. To celebrate the end of the school year my family planned a pizza meal out – a rarity when you have a family of 9. I like pizza, but I always eat it homemade or at least in a home setting. Eating out and having absolutely no control over what they put on the pizza or how much of it is on there is kind of daunting. Plus I knew my stomach was not likely to handle all the processed ingredients and cheese on there well. Still I was looking forward to this family event quite a bit.
Well the time came and we all filled into the restaurant. For some reason today even the smell of pizza wasn’t uppealing, but that could have been due to the 35 C temperatures we’re having at the moment. We ordered 2 family sized pizzas and two medium ones for the 9 of us, which ended up being more than enough. My vote was for a feta, spinach and mozzarella pizza. It came and I had a slice – it wasn’t amazing, but it was enjoyable. Then I decided on another- and instead of going after the smallest one I had in front of me (like is my usual habit), I chose one of the bigger pieces (possibly even the biggest). I didn’t even think about it, I just grabbed a bigger slice because I enjoyed the taste – just like good old times. Well we ate, talked and celebrated and then everyone rolled their way out of the restaurant and back home.
It was all fine and dandy until 15 minutes after eating the pain kicked in. And boy, was it bad. I was supposed to take the evening shift at work that evening, but when I got there the nausea and pain just kept gradually getting worse . I had to ask for a sick leave because I was feeling so bad. This is when the ED thoughts started rushing in. I felt so guilty for overeating, so useless and upset at myself. I wished I could turn back the clock, eat less and maybe save myself the pain and discomfort. I felt like I had “betrayed” my body by pumping it so full of junk it just couldn’t handle it. I started comparing with other blogger’s meals I had seen on the internet and feeling like I really overate I should feel ashaimed of myself.
But then it hit me, just because everything I had done that evening felt so “wrong” doesn’t mean it actually was. Those were just feelings and these were the facts:
- I pushed myself out of my comfort zone – and that was a good thing, because I challenged my old ED thought and habits.
- I ate more than I was used to- but all that extra energy will be put to good use restoring and rebuilding my body. I was forced to rest, and that’s probably exactly what I needed at that point. And honestly – since most people ate 3-4 peices of pizza (2 of them being family sized), I really didn’t eat ALL that much.
- Eating 2 slices of pizza once a blue moon is not going to do irreparable damage to my body. And in order to get out of my extreme orthorectic menatlities and habits, it’s actually good for me to eat something a little less “healthy” once in a while.
- Most importantly I was able to share this experience with my family, insteading of missing out on it due to my ED. I am regaining freedom.
Sometimes doing what’s “wrong” for others may be right for you. So comparing to others who eat this and that, or won’t eat this or that, or who claim to have found the best road to health isn’t in any way beneficial. And sometimes just because something “feels wrong” doesn’t mean it is. Particularly if you struggle with eating issues, doing things that are unnatural are part of gaining a healthy relationship with food. And although it is not easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, no matter what pain or mental struggles it might cost in the short term.
Any thoughts or simular experiences?