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.
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.
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.
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.
This 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.
Who’s with me?