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Posts tagged ‘trust’

I Don’t Have An Eating Disorder

“I don’t have an eating disorder.”

I have uttered those words so many times in the past 4 years.

“I am not sick. I am not thin. I don’t need treatment. These is nothing wrong with me. I am fine, fine, fine, fine, FINE.”

Even after multiple hospital admissions due to complications from my disorder, even after starting treatment, i was still in denial for a very long time.

“I don’t have an eating disorder. I just have “food issues.””

In fact, it was not until my second year of treatment that i was able to admit to having an eating disorder. It was not until then that i could say those words & not feel like a fraud.

My thoughts last year, had been to finish up with treatment in December, just before the holiday break. Therapy had been going incredibly well & i had made a lot of progress, & my psychologist was also about to resign. My ED behaviours were under control, & any lapses were only momentary. My life was not lived according to the rules devised by my disorder, & i felt ready to pursue the next chapter of my life & my recovery on my own. Things came up however, & i felt rather overwhelmed – my biggest, & really my only lingering trigger for ED behaviours – & although i had stopped seeing my psychologist, i continued my connection with my dietitian.

Yesterday i met with my her for the first time this year – it had been 5 weeks since we’d last met. Those 5 weeks had been challenging for me in many ways, but not overwhelming. I had managed to navigate my way over, under, around, & through any challenges that had popped up, & i had resisted any urges to return to my disordered behaviours. I had enjoyed blogging here over the holiday break, & it had helped to keep me afloat during those challenging moments. It was not an easy time, but i got through it – the wonderful story of my life these days! 🙂

When we met yesterday, keeping in mind my progress, & my thoughts on finishing treatment, my dietitian asked me what i would like from our sessions – what did i need? Where to from here? It was a simple question for me to answer, & a joyous answer to give 🙂

“It might sound funny, because i guess i have known this for a long time, but it hasn’t really hit me until now… But i really do know what i am doing with food now. I know what foods make me feel energised & strong. I know which foods don’t. I know how much i need to eat to feel good, & how frequently. I know what it’s like to feel hungry, &  satiated, & i can respond to those cues – the way i eat now is determined by how i feel, rather than a set of ridiculous rules.  And i found myself thinking, “What else is there? I don’t think there is anything else.””

She agreed wholeheartedly with me, & with that we decided to meet once more, in a month, & if all is well to say our goodbyes 🙂

I have come to realise over this holiday break (& again, it sounds somewhat strange, even to me, that this realisation is only just “hitting me” now), that i don’t have an eating disorder. I am well & truly in recovery from an eating disorder.

I am no longer afraid of food. In fact, cooking & eating food is one of the greatest joys in my life! Most people i know would not hesitate to call me a “real foodie!” – a claim that is undeniably true yet equally shocking, for those who know of my past. In fact, it is true, that i have now discovered a freedom around food, that many of my friends & family are yet to acquire for themselves. Most of the time, i am able to eat very intuitively, eating what i want, when i want it, & trusting my body to balance everything out – i eat for enjoyment as well as nourishment. I love cooking & sharing food with others, & i love trying new foods. I. Love. To. Eat. 🙂

I am also incredibly accepting of my body now. Sure i have days where i look at myself in the mirror, & my eyes zone in on my thighs or my tummy, & i find myself thinking “My thighs are so fat. My tummy is so bulgy. I would look so much better if i lost a little weight”. Sure i have days where i feel utterly miserable based on whether or not i can fit comfortably into my jeans. But these thoughts & feelings now rarely dictate my behaviour – they don’t dictate how much i eat, how much i exercise, or whether or not i can leave the house. They don’t dictate my worth as a human being, as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter… I am lovely, & i am loved, & those things do not change in relation to my jeans size 🙂 It is now much easier for me to resist the urges to manipulate & reduce my body’s shape & size, because i know that those things have no bearing on who i am as a person – i know that what i look like does not make me any more or any less of a remarkable human being, & my self worth is no longer tied up in my appearance & my ability to manipulate it.

After 3 years of treatment, i am now able to say “i don’t have an eating disorder”. I can say those words & know deep within myself, that these are no longer words of denial. They are not a denial of my current state of health, nor are they though a denial of my past. I don’t have an eating disorder, but i did suffer greatly with one in the past. There are still some lingering symptoms & signs – the way restriction still pops into my head as an option when i’m feeling overwhelmed, the lingering digestive issues that my body & i are still working on healing, the struggle i have to moderate my level of activity…. But i do not have an eating disorder. Today, no words have ever felt truer than “I am in recovery.” 🙂

(Images via: We ♥ it.)

Day 3: Intutitive Eating

Welcome to Day 3 of lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) :)

Today’s theme is Intuitive Eating, but if you are just joining us now, you might like to go back & try my Self-Care Challenge from Day 1, or my Joyful Movement Challenge from Day 2 :)

When i was very entrenched in my eating disorder, it was clear that i was not eating intuitively – my body & mind were starving, but i continued to ignore any signals of hunger. Other times, i would ignore my body’s signals of fullness. When i entered treatment, & began my journey to normal eating, it was of course extremely difficult, but that difficulty was made worse by the fact that by that stage, i was completely unaware of what it was like to feel hungry, & what it was like to feel full. After ignoring those hunger signals for so long, i could no longer recognise them. The simple message of “eat when you are hungry, & stop when you are full” was impossible for me, because i didn’t know what hungry or full was. And so i relied on a meal plan for quite a while, until those hunger signals returned to my awareness.

You don’t need to have suffered an eating disorder to have a complicated relationship with food & eating, or to be confused about whether you are hungry or not. Messages you may have received as a child, such as “eat everything on your plate”, can conflict with the dieting mentality of our adult world. With so many mixed messages around what we should or shouldn’t eat, how much, how frequently, it is no wonder that we feel confused!

Do any of these statements ring true for you?

  • I always “clean my plate”, eating whatever is on it, even if i am not hungry
  • I sometimes feel hungry, but don’t allow myself to eat because it not breakfast/lunchtime/dinnertime yet
  • I try to restrict my eating, & often feel hungry, but i try & use my “willpower” to ignore those signals
  • I sometimes eat beyond my hunger, & keep eating, even though i feel very uncomfortable
  • I avoid eating foods i really love, because they are “bad”, “fattening” or “unhealthy”
  • I sometimes binge on the foods i love, because i don’t let myself eat them very often
  • I find the message “eat when you are hungry, & stop when you are full” to be a real challenge
  • I often feel guilty about eating

What is “Intuitive Eating”?

Intuitive eating looks much the same as “normal eating“. It teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with food & eating, by encouraging you to trust in your own body’s wisdom. It teaches you to distinguish between physical & emotional hunger, & to make food choices that honour yourself & your body’s needs.

Intuitive eating helped free me from a fear of food. Most people who meet me now, would have no idea that i have struggled with an eating disorder, that i would cry over dinner, or could take 3 hours to eat an apple (yep – that actually happened once!). I am now able to recognise my hunger & satiety (fullness) signals, & i am able to trust in my body to look after my health & maintain my weight. I have a freedom around food that i never thought possible, but it took a lot of hard work to get here.

Intuitive eating can be really difficult, or even scary, but it IS possible to find peace in food & eating. If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating, & perhaps starting your own journey towards normal eating, it’s really important to have support, & there is no better place to find that it than from a qualified dietician. If you are in Australia, try the Dietitians Association Of Australia, or if you are in America, The American Dietetics Association.


(Image via: StumbleUpon)

Because i am not a qualified dietitian, i am not going to encourage or challenge anyone to change their way of eating. Instead, my challenge for you today, is to try & reconnect with your hunger & satiety signals.

Day 3 – Intuitive Eating:

  1. Notice
    Throughout the day, try to notice what your body is telling you about how hungry or full you feel
  2. Guage
    Using the hunger scale below, see if you can work out where you hunger fits on the scale

     

    • 10 – Stuffed – nauseous, ill, cannot eat any more
    • 9 – Very Uncomfortable – tired, bloated, may need to loosen clothes
    • 8 – Uncomfortably Full – feel you have eaten too much
    • 7 – Full – cannot comfortably eat any more
    • 6 – Comfortable – not hungry, not full – satisfied, but could “squeeze in” a little more
    • 5 – Slightly Hungry – begin to notice hunger, thinking about eating
    • 4 – Hungry – ready to eat
    • 3 – Very Hungry – stomach is rumbling
    • 2 – Extremely Hungry – irritable, unable to concentrate
    • 1 – Starving – weak, light-headed

Today’s challenge is all about exploration & awareness – try not to have any judgements around where you fit on the hunger & fullness scale at any given moment. Instead try to approach this challenge with a sense of curiosity & exploration, & remember this is not about changing how you eat, but about simply noticing your body’s experience. If you find this challenge particularly difficult, please seek out support.

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today, where our theme of Intuitive Eating will be permeating my posts. And please feel free to share with me there, or here on the blog how you have found today’s Intuitive Eating Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! :)

(Unless specified, Images via: We ♥ it.)

Learning To Trust My Body – And Myself

Warning:
Parts of this post may be distressing to survivors of sexual abuse.
If you need support, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017 .
May also be triggering to those suffering with, or in recovery from an eating disorder.
In you need support, you can find a list of services in you state on The Butterfly Foundation website, or call them on 1800 33 4673.

Eating disorders are incredibly complex, multi-dimensional illnesses. Many things have been linked as contributing factors in the susceptibility to, development of, & maintenance of eating disorders, including biological & genetic factors, psychological, emotional, & cultural factors, & the research is ongoing.

Despite having suffered an eating disorder myself, & having gained some incredible insight during treatment, i still do not fully understand the complexities of my own illness. But that is not to say that i do not understand it at all, & indeed, i have much insight into many of the factors that influenced the development & maintenance of my eating disorder.

One of these things, i found, was an incredible lack of trust.

This realisation came, when i began exploring intuitive eating with my dietitian early on this year. Although quite flexible in terms of food choices, i had spent the few months prior following a very structured meal plan – making sure i was eating at regular intervals throughout the day, making sure i was covering all of my food groups… I was feeling quite comfortable with it – it had become quite manageable – but it was beginning to feel quite rigid at the same time.

When i started treatment, it was all about meal planning, covering my food groups, getting enough calories….i thought that if i could accomplish these things, if i could follow these “rules”, that i would have achieved “normal” eating. But then, it dawned on me – at this point in my recovery, i had simply replaced one set of rules with another. Sure, i wasn’t using rules to starve myself anymore, but i wasn’t eating with spontaneity & freedom either. I looked at the people around me, people without eating disorders, people i saw as having “normal” eating patterns, & i realised that not a single one of them was following a structured meal plan like i had been. I had made a lot of progress, but i wasn’t quite there yet.

At first, intuitive eating was an exciting adventure – i loved the idea of truly connecting with body, & trusting it to tell me what it needed (or didn’t). I was excited by the idea of being able to make food choices based on hunger, & my desire for certain foods. I loved the thought of being able to say no, as well as yes, & eating with freedom & spontaneity. Intuitive eating was a concept that i had believed quite passionately in for quite a while, & i was excited by the possibility of a new & forgiving relationship with my body & with food.

It wasn’t long though, before the true difficulty of this exercise hit me – & hit me HARD.

Earlier this year, Melinda Tankard Reist published a piece on her blog, where i described my experience of sexual abuse, & resulting criminal trial for which i was a witness. While i do not believe in any way, that this abuse was the sole reason for the development of my eating disorder, it was this experience which left me with a complete & utter disgust for my body, & a need to be entirely disconnected from it in order to survive.

As soon as my second week of eating intuitively, i was overwhelmed with panic & fear – ‘I don’t want to “connect” with my body!’ I didn’t know exactly what it was that was lurking behind my fear, but i knew that if anyone threw the words “body” & “connect” together in the same sentence, it would terrify me. My panic soon gave way to anger – a deep seething anger, that i was, up until this point, oblivious to. I felt betrayed by my body – it had reacted to my abuse in ways that were abhorrent to me, & despite understanding the biology behind these reactions, i still carried a lot of shame. A shame which i blamed wholly & solely on my own body.

Thinking back on it now, while i recognise that a lot of my reasons for starving myself, were about disconnection – from my body, from my emotions – there was also an element of rebellion to it. I was angry, & i directed that anger at my body’s perceived betrayal – it told me it was hungry, & starvation was my way of saying “f*ck you”. Denying my body it’s needs made me feel strong. In control. But that need to manipulate & control my body, was a dangerous one to implement.

Now, a year into my intuitive eating journey, with a good deal of therapy, & a lot of painful & confronting (but equally exciting & beautiful) self-exploration, i am happy to say that i have found that new & forgiving relationship with my body & with food. Everyday my connection to my body becomes deeper, more respectful & more loving, & the freedom & spontaneity i experience around food now, is greater than i ever imagined.

I once found myself pondering whether or not my body was a reliable judge of what it needed – was I a reliable judge of what I needed? When i shared these fears with my dietitian, she responded with a ‘YES! Definitely!’. I will always remember that moment as the moment i was given the reassurance & permission i needed to trust in myself again. It is a trust that has filtered down through all aspects of my life experience – not just those which relate to food & eating. And really, that should come as no surprise – after all, eating disorders are about so much more than food.