Eating Healthy vs. Recovering from ED
Before I start rambling, I gotta say I didn’t really intend for this blog to be all about me and ED issues. But that’s apparently what’s most pressing on my mind lately and I can’t be bothered to write about anything else. Hmm.
Well, this morning I was flipping through various books I have on cooking, food, nutrition, etc. The two I ended up focusing on were The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno and Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
If I didn’t have an eating disorder, (and if I had more money than I do at the moment) I would go to the store, buy all the essentials for cooking and a bunch of fresh food, and start a “clean” mostly vegan diet immediately. There are things I would adjust from both approaches (I hate eggs, and Tosca wants you to eat a bajillion egg whites), and I don’t eat fish. So I’d substitute those things with tofu, tempeh, hummus, etc. But sometimes I want chicken, so if I wanted chicken I’d let myself have chicken. And I’ve started liking yogurt again, so I’d have yogurt too (not vegan).
The thing is… even though intellectually I know that eating 5-6 small, fresh, well-rounded meals a day of vegetables, fruits, protein, and complex carbohydrates is the best thing for my body (including the brain, which overlaps with the mind)… I know that because I have an eating disorder I can’t “make” myself do this. It’s not that simple. Because eating disorders are manipulative and “tell me” a lot of insanity that sometimes I’ll believe if I’m stressed, or tired, or upset, or nervous, or ashamed, or what have you.
So I have to figure out how to step by step overcome the eating disordered thoughts/beliefs, recognizing what foods I’m physically addicted to and the ones that trigger me emotionally (usually they go hand in hand), as well as slowly start to change my habits to reflect this healthier lifestyle… without letting that get out of hand either (i.e. orthorexia: excessive focus on eating healthy foods. In rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death. Which happened last time I was vegan… and that is even more mentally stressful and painful than restriction and bulimia for me.)
Because eating disorders aren’t about food. Which is pretty complicated. As alcohol addiction isn’t about someone really loving their drinks, it’s about how the alcohol physically affects them and the “pay-off” they get from it. Though people with food addictions can’t just stop eating. (But you can stop eating certain things… which works for people who solely suffer from compulsive overeating or binge eating… but doesn’t quite work for me – thus far – because then I just go into restriction mode.) Which… technically… I guess that is what the “Eat Clean Diet” is. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet, but it is cutting out all simple carbohydrates and sugar. Which I believe is a good idea, for sure. But…. I also believe in moderation and allowing yourself to have something if you want it. Which in the book is referred to as “cheating” which I fucking HATE… because that’s a diet-mentality.
I guess… I want to be healthy, I want to eat things that are good for me, I don’t want to be afraid of eating anything, I don’t want to use food as a weapon against myself, I don’t want to diet, I don’t want to feel restricted in anyway, yet I want to naturally make the healthiest choices.
In theory that shouldn’t be that hard.
But it’s the days when I eat soup and immediately want to go get rid of it and it’s incredibly upsetting that I’m not… The days I think 800 calories is plenty and eating any more than that means I should just binge… The days I think I have to ingest several diet pills in order for a work out to be productive… those are the days that I know the theory is not that simple.