Recovery in a Diet-Obsessed World.

Recovery.

I really hate using that word on myself, because I was never formally diagnosed with an eating disorder and I do not believe that I fully had one. I had a very long (four year) stretch of an extremely damaged relationship with food, and periods of severe restriction. I absolutely had disordered eating patterns, and lost a bit too much weight, but I did not take it to the extreme that would constitute an eating disorder. (Note: I do not believe you have to be underweight to have an eating disorder. This disease affects both men and women of all shapes and sizes.)

But I digress. Though I’ve had a relatively healthy relationship with food for quite some time, I feel like the past two weeks of my life can be best described by the word recovery. I’m finally listening to my cravings and eating enough to fuel my body and (hopefully) restore my hormones. Unfortunately, I started doing this just as my mom began using MyFitnessPal.

MFP

Oh, MyFitnessPal, where do I even begin? I religiously tracked every gram of food, every stick of gum, and every five-calorie chemical shitstorm of sugar-free jello in you for far too long. Then, I wrote down every ounce I consumed so that I could use you add up my intake at night, refusing to eat anything I couldn’t track.

And then, I finally bid you good riddance. I started to enjoy drinks with unknown calories, and dove headfirst into hearty homemade bowls of soup that could have had 100 or 1000 calories for all I cared. I put a handful of nuts into salads, and didn’t freak out about the exact amount of oil used to barbecue my chicken.

salad

So although I no longer use that app, I won’t deny that it’s not still a little enticing. And I certainly will not deny how hard it is to hear my mom talk endlessly about how she only ate 800 calories that day or that her breakfast had 36.3 grams of sugar or that she ate 53% carbohydrates when she should have had 50%. And let’s not forget the most recent plan, a juice cleanse and parsley tea when she’s hungry to “detoxify”.

There’s no point in sugar-coating it. We go through the heart-wrenching process of recovery, fighting with every ounce of our strength to heal our bodies and our relationships with food. And we do it in a world where everyone else is doing the exact opposite.

weight-loss-scam

I’ve been getting most of my extra calories in after dinner. I don’t know why, but it’s what’s been working for me. I don’t feel overly full at any point throughout the day and I go to sleep happy and satisfied. How could I not after something like this little slice of heaven created by Amanda? But last night, I was informed that our digestive systems need to “rest” while we sleep, and that I should stop eating after dinner.

Chocolate-Mug-CakeThis completes my life. 

Um, excuse me? For four years I had a list longer than the Constitution of foods that I would not eat, a rock-solid will power barring any food from crossing my lips after 7pm, regardless of how hungry I was or not, and now I’m supposed to go back to that?

Not a freaking chance.

I think that there is a point in everyone’s lives, whether it is recovery from an eating disorder, alcoholism, or a mental issue, that we have to leave our own little bubbles and learn to survive in the real world. In my life, there are going to be people dieting. I am going to have friends skinnier than me decide that they are “fat”, and individuals that believe the very things I based my recovery upon to be inherently wrong (like eating late).

And when that happens, I (and we) will have two choices. We can either let this diet/weight-loss obsessed world revert us back to restriction and obsession, or we can ignore it. We can remember that we know our bodies best, stay strong, and give a nice big F-U to anyone in our way.

out-of-my-wayPlease excuse the French.

Who’s with me? 

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14 thoughts on “Recovery in a Diet-Obsessed World.

  1. Super interesting. What, to you, would constitute an eating disorder?

    I lost my college weight a few years ago, and there was almost a sick obsession with counting, and like you, I really avoided eating anything I didn’t know the ingredients/calories/makeup of. Now I’ve eased up, especially since I’m running marathons. I eat really well to nourish my body, but I don’t mess with the app anymore.

    • What bothers me most about the app is the idea that we can get trapped into thinking it knows better than our own bodies. NO! Our metabolism is not a calculation. I’m so glad you aren’t bothering with that anymore, especially with marathon training. 🙂

  2. Well, you can feel at least a little better knowing you’re not alone — I’m definitely with you on this one. It’s hard to stick to your guns and do what you know is right for your body in a world that’s telling you to do the opposite, and I remember struggling with triggers a LOT when I was in the early stages of my recovery, but the longer I kept at it, the more I began to realize that nothing is worth going back to that place of darkness. Who cares if I was thinner? I definitely wasn’t happier. I love food. My body loves food. And nothing feels better than freedom.

    • I haven’t felt overly triggered, I’ve just been questioning myself more. But that stops NOW. You are so right. There is absolutely nothing that would make going back to that hell we were in worth it. Nothing feels better than freedom, but ice cream comes pretty close. 🙂

  3. Me! I’m with you in regards to saying “what you said” to the information surrounding us that proves detrimental to our delicate minds in this phase of life. However..I would say it sounds like at some stage you could have been toying in a level of an ED. Or maybe I’m just sensitive..no surprise there! Either way – we each do know ourselves best and if we don’t, only we can make an effort in learning to be in tune with our bodies right!? You have made stunning progress girl 🙂 . Lots of days I find that I ‘think’ I’m eating enough through the day..but my body obviously decided it’s not enough and I end up eating A TON before bed. And even then it’s not to the point of stuffed..just satisfied. It boggles me..but the body knows. Sorry for the novel! All the best 🙂

    • THANK YOU for the novel! It means so much to me that you are so caring and considerate to write such a supportive comment. I’m 100% in the same boat as you with being starving in the evenings – but I have been finding that if I eat a pretty hefty snack right after dinner, the snack monster doesn’t come out so strongly. 🙂

  4. You hit the nail on the head with your first few sentences. I was the same way – not able to be classified as having an eating disorder, but definitely being a disordered eater! I used My Fitness Pal as well, and I was anything but “fit”. We weren’t pals, we were enemies. Thank you for this post!
    I’m sorry that your mom is obsessing. You can always email me if you need to vent!

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  6. Emma, I really love this post. I love that you can say you’ve felt recovered for the past two weeks.

    I get what you’re saying about the label. I was kind of labeled by a dietitian but I never saw her again. I’ve had no help besides my mom and the internet blogs. I guess it’s because I didn’t lose enough weight to need “recovery”. But my mind and my body were so damaged. And still are a bit. I’ve pretty much been trying to recover myself because I can’t let myself go to the point of needing hospitalization or therapy. That was never my intention. I just wanted to be healthier and to look better and it became an issue of control.

    I can’t believe you struggled with disordered eating for 4 years. That is so long. I am so proud of you for digging yourself out of that nasty pit. You are really amazing. ❤

    This post- along with others I've read- is the reason I've been trying not to count calories. The reason I've been avoiding the scale and ignoring the "rules" and eating when I am hungry- even if it's at a weird time.

    Every little choice we make can be one step towards recovery and health and happiness. You have taken great steps. Let's keep going in the right direction.

    Stay strong Emma. Thanks for being an inspiration 🙂

    • Emily, this touched my heart.

      I feel like we really understand each other. The places we came from and the places we are going. Because you are so right – every choice, no matter how small, is a step towards recovery and a happy and healthy life.

      Never forget how far you have come too! In the time I have known you and before that.

      You are a rockstar. 🙂

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