This post has been on the tip of my tongue (can you even say that when blogging) for a few days now, but it’s hard to put on paper. It’s a topic that I find very relevant and might be of interest to some of you as well.
I want to talk about restoring a relationship with food after a period of disordered eating. And by disordered I’m not talking about the typical eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia – you can have a disordered eating pattern just from going through a stage of extreme dieting, or from being orthorexic. Although my own personal experiences are based on recovering from anorexia – I think some things are just universaly true.
First off, restoring a proper relationship with food takes time. The longer you’ve had disordered eating patterns the longer it takes. It makes sense – it takes time to break those bad habits and negative thought patterns you’ve put around food. It takes time to realize food is fuel -there is no “good” and “bad” food. It takes time to come to grips with how far you’ve ventured from what healthy really is or should be, but this is really a crucial part in the whole equation. So be patient, give yourself time. Don’t expect to wake up in the morning and for things to all of a sudden be ok – because it doesn’t work like that.
Start with little baby steps. Once you realize just how far you’v ventured and how far you have to go to reach “normalicy” things seem pretty overwhelming. Don’t try tackling everything at once (for instance introducing fear foods, breaking compulsive eatings habits, eating in front of people and not sticking to set meal times). There were times I’ve felt so “mototivated” I tried doing everything at once only to quit a short time later because it was too much to handle at once. Remember – it’s a sprint and not a marathon and if you consistently make little baby steps one day at a time, you will get there in the end.
Don’t expect it to go the way you want it to. When I was so stuck on recovering the “right way” and changing my eating habits the way I wanted to – I never got anywhere. I only really started making progress when I gave it the “skrew it all” mentality and just ate food. And no – it’s no easy. And there were days I ate too little, and days I ate too much, days I binged and days I ate completely irrationaly. But only through those experiences did I learn and make progress. And though it was sometimes hard, in hindsight I see it couldn’t have been any other way,
Don’t be too hard on yourself. When going through all of this you might feel like the only one out there with these problems – the only one that has these crazy cravings or hunger or whatever else you’re experiencing. There were times that all I was going through made me feel like the scum of the earth (particuarly binging tends to trigger these sorts of feelings). But realize that if anyone went though what you went through – chances are they’d react the same way. If you gave a starving child from a 3 world country normal portions of food he’d react in the same way. He’d eat small amounts when his stomach was still so shrunk he couldn’t handle any more, but as soon as he could eat more he’d most likely start “binging” on 3000+ calories of food a day, because his body was crying out for fuel to repair the damage that had been done. Would you judge him for behaving this way? Not one bit. So why are you being so hard on yourself.
Keep the end goal in sight. Recovering from disordered eating is a long and tiering process. You will feel like quitting more then once before you reach the end of your journey. But never forget where you’re going – to a place where food no longer controls your life, a place where in equals not just fuel but enjoyment as well, a place where guilt and anxiety no longer have a seat at the dinner table. It takes a while to get there – but let me tell you, once you do it is awesome! All the work it took to get you there seems like nothing compared to the freedom you feel. I’m still just getting a taste of all this – but I have a feeling it only gets better from here on out.
Any thoughts/tips on restoring a healthy relationship with food? If you have struggled with disordered eating in the past – what was something that helped you develop healthy habits again?