50 Shades of… pizza?

Good morning all!  Unless of course you live in another time zone, which I mean if you live in the majority of the world you do, in which case it’s a good afternoon, good evening, or good night.

Wasn’t there a movie that used that line?  Probably… oh wait!  The Truman Show!  Tell me you’ve seen the Truman show… hang on, I’m Youtube-ing…

I’m actually kind of impressed with myself for remembering where that was from.  I’m usually that person that will be talking about movies with someone and they’ll say, “Have you seen _____?” and I’ll be like, “Um….. maybe?”.  I never remember titles.  I also tend to forget actors/actresses names unless they’re like fantastic (Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep anyone?), so a conversation gets a little sticky quite quickly when you combine the two together.  It typically goes something like this:

Me: “Have you seen that movie… oh I can’t remember what it’s called.  It’s the one with the guy… oh crap… That guy with the hair?  You know, he was in that other movie?  The one where there’s a big misunderstanding (aka every movie ever made!).”

Yeah… it doesn’t go over well.

I think it’s genetic.

I know, I know, blame the genes.  But seriously though, I grew up mostly with my grandma because my parents worked, and she was the champion of “the thing”.  You spend enough time with her and you learn to read her mind at least a little, or you’d get a seriously riled grandma on your hands.  And if anyone knows my grandma, you don’t want a seriously riled grandma on your hands.

“Get me that thing, from the place over there.  No not that thing! The other thing! The one next to the big thing with the grey stuff on top!”

Like I said, genetic.

That was like the other day in the truck with my boyfriend… I was trying to explain the defectiveness of my thermos and justifying it by the fact that two different people tried to open it but couldn’t.  In the end we destroyed the rim on it because we got so desperate to open it that we tried to open it with a jar opener.  Anyways, I couldn’t remember the word jar opener, so I said can opener… but I totally knew that wasn’t it.  I did get it eventually, but it took longer than it should.

Side note:  those jar openers are handy, aren’t they?!  I mean, it didn’t work on my thermos, it just destroyed it. But that thermos is just evil. For other jars they’re great!

Double side note:  I’m not totally hopeless.  I don’t forget everything.  Just had to be clear on that.

Moving on.

So something major happened since we last chit-chatted:

It was my birthday!

Yay!

Remember this post?  I started it off by being oh so convincing and telling you it was my birthday.  Guess what?  I’m doing it again!

IMG_3199Actually, I’m not.  It was my birthday!  That right there is an awesome peanut butter birthday cake, stuffed with peanut butter chips, frosted in peanut butter frosting, and decorated with mini peanut butter cups.  It’s a plethora of peanut butter!  And I didn’t even have to make it myself, because someone gets me! This is the corner slice, aka the best slice, because it has the most frosting and the most peanut butter-ness.  Win.

And I was spoiled.  I was treated to the most amazing massage at the spa, which was so needed because I kind of suck at self care, as most eating disordered people do, and I have such a hard time sitting and relaxing.  I had this pesky knot in my shoulder, which had been bugging me for at least a month, and now it’s gone.  And I’m like…

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Oh yeah…..

Then there was a homemade panini lunch, followed by the aforementioned cake, a slice of which ended up in my face…

Side note:  Apparently this is a semi-common tradition?  It was a new one for me…

Add on a gorgeous apron from London, and a beautiful scarf, and you have me completely spoiled.  And of course this brings up an all too common eating disorder emotion:  guilt.

Why do we engage in eating disordered behaviours?

Guilt.

Why do we restrict when we eat a forbidden food?

Guilt.

Why do we suck at self care?

Guilt.

Why are we always keyed up and can’t relax?

Guilt.

Why are we afraid of certain foods?

Guilt.

Why are we so secretive, and don’t want to include other people in our struggles, or open up?

Guilt.

What keeps us stuck in our eating disordered ways?

Guilt.

I swear you’d be hard pressed to find someone with an eating disorder who doesn’t struggle with a guilt complex.  In my experience it is the most pervading emotion that finds its way into every nook and cranny of my life, and it would actually be a challenge to find a moment in my day where I’m not feeling guilty about something.

Guilty about sitting and relaxing instead of “being productive” and doing work.

Guilty about living with my grandmother for a time and helping her to stay in her house for as long as possible, while others claimed I was “sponging off of her”.

Guilty about living at home with my Mom and contributing as much as I can to household expenses, while once again other people claimed I was “taking advantage”.

Guilty about being lactose intolerant and needing the more expensive soy milk.

Guilty about dropping out of school multiple times and not “living up to my full potential”, disappointing others.

Guilty about being the one to pick an activity when spending time with friends or family, because of the chance that they might not enjoy it, or be bored.

Guilty about the amount of carbs I’ve eaten today.

Guilty about the lack of vegetables I’ve eaten today.

Guilty about that slice of cake.

Guilty about opting for a burger instead of a salad.

Guilty about adding a flavour shot to my latte.

Guilty about being so “indulgent”.

Guilty about spending money on new clothes, even though my assignment from both the doctor and dietitian is to gradually replace my whole wardrobe with clothes that I can’t associate with a certain weight and fit before recovery.

Guilty about being on exercise restriction, and relying on others to drive me around.

Guilty about being inflexible and/or anxious at times when it comes to food and certain food related behaviours.

Guilty about doing the opposite, not paying attention to my eating disordered behaviours and not being so rigid, thus obviously overdoing it and being a gluttonous pig (although apparently I’m the only one that thinks that when I relax I overdo it…)

Guilty about being something other than perfect.

Perfect at recovery.  Perfect at anorexia.  Perfect daughter.  Perfect student.  Perfect at eating “clean” or “healthfully”.  Perfect friend.  Perfect girlfriend.  Perfect caregiver.  Perfect body.  Perfect shape.  Perfect weight.  Perfect size.  Perfect plan for success.

Having everything perfectly under control and perfectly planned out.

Needless to say, perfection is impossible.  Perfection is unattainable.  Perfection is limiting, and it’s black and white.  Perfection is not reality.

Perfectionism and guilt, not always but often, go hand in hand.  They both live in the land of black or white, good or bad, all or nothing, and as such one influences the other heavily.

Pick a burger —–> Judgement:  There are so many healthier choices! (aka not the perfect choice) —–> Not perfect= completely wrong, self indulgent, lazy, and lacking willpower and drive —–> guilt and shame for making that decision and for being the person I am

Choose to leave school —–> Judgement (self inflicted or heard): Wasting life, too stupid to stick it out, was going to fail anyways —–> Not perfect= completely wrong, stupid, lazy, self indulgent, and lacking willpower and drive —–> guilt and shame for making that decision and for being the person I am

Pick an activity that others seem uninterested in after the fact —–> Judgement: The activity bores them, even though I enjoy it.  Therefore I’m boring and stupid for enjoying it.  There are other things I should be more interested in doing. —–> Not perfect= completely wrong, selfish, self indulgent, lazy, and lacking willpower, drive, and interest —–> guilt and shame for making that decision, and for being the person I am

Need I go on?

You could pick any of the scenarios listed, or create your own.  Realize what process is going on in your head:

Decision/Action —-> Judgement (self inflicted/heard from others) —-> Emotion

which ultimately leads to some behaviour positive or negative to cope with or manage said emotion.  And let’s be clear also on the judgement stage: The judgement can be heard from others, but ultimately it comes down to you taking on the judgement and claiming it for yourself as truth.  Ever heard the saying “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”?  Yeah, it’s true.  But that doesn’t make it easy to not adopt the judgments that you hear around you.

Guilt is a difficult emotion because it’s sticky and uncomfortable.  I’m not saying that no one has difficulty coping with joy, because I have met people that struggle to be okay with being happy.  Although, in my experience, oftentimes people struggle with being happy because they feel guilty about feeling happy.  It’s a judgement of an emotion.  Oh wait!!! I forgot to mention, you can totally flip that equation:

Emotion—-> Judgement (self inflicted/heard from others) —-> Decision/Action (coping mechanism potentially)

MIND BLOWN!

Side note: I have this uncanny ability to attempt to turn everything into a mathematical equation similar to the equations above.  X+Y=Z, or if this train was leaving Kansas at this time, then as a result I’m eating sushi in Canada. Yeah, that made no sense.  But there’s probably a mathematical reason for it.

Moving on…

Guilt.  It’s sticky.  Oddly, it’s one of those socially acceptable emotions.  And by socially acceptable, I mean, we’re expected to have it and it’s somewhat praised… at least in the sense of, if you do wrong you should feel guilty about it, so that it prompts you to make amends.  And if you do wrong, and you don’t feel guilty about it, it’s frowned upon.

That whole conscience thing.

And I mean it makes sense.  Like if someone murdered someone, I would hope they’d at least feel a little bit guilty about it.  If we didn’t we’d all be running rampant, looting, stealing, pillaging…

Apparently in my mind we’d all be pirates.

But there’s this whole other side of the coin, this part where you feel guilty in a situation where you have nothing to feel guilty about.  Unjustified guilt.  And as useful as a conscience is, when it comes to unjustified guilt some of us don’t have that filter.

Now, if there is guilt around food, I can pretty much guarantee you it’s unjustified.  Unless you murdered someone by flogging them with a day old baguette, knowingly fed them something that gave them an anaphylactic reaction, or purposely had them choke on a cannoli.  If this is the case, go ahead.  Feel guilty.

But, listening to what you’re craving and eating that, eating something new or different, taking advantage of what is available that is not always there, or sometimes eating past comfortably full don’t qualify as things that you should feel guilty about.

AKA:

Guilt about the amount of carbs eaten = unjustified

Guilt about the lack of vegetables eaten = unjustified

Guilt about a slice of birthday cake = unjustified

Guilt about opting for a burger instead of a salad = unjustified

Guilt about adding a flavour shot to my latte = unjustified

 

Or some typical ones:

Guilt about having seconds just because it tasted that good = unjustified

Guilt about not going for a run after eating Christmas dinner = unjustified

Guilt about adding ice cream to the top of a slice of pie or cookies = unjustified

 

I don’t care if it messes with your macros, adds extra calories, adds extra fat grams, or “goes straight to your thighs” (hint: it doesn’t!), that guilt is still unjustified.  Unless you have a medical condition, like diabetes, that makes counting your sugar grams very important, you should never feel guilty about having a brownie.

With eating disorders, guilt surrounding food or the guilt about not following rituals based around food is a constant issue.  When I was in residential treatment, after every meal we’d have a process time where we were expected to share how we were feeling having completed the meal.  Most of the time, everyone would go around the circle and say, I feel fine, good, bored, tired… and while if you were close to having a mental breakdown you’d often admit to the guilt, often times it was left unsaid.

It wasn’t because we didn’t feel it.  It was because we all were ashamed of having eaten at all, and wanted to ignore it.  We wanted to avoid it.  And we all knew that we felt it, and didn’t need to open up that can of worms.  Once again, I reiterate, if we share how we’re feeling with other people we’re putting our troubles on them, and we feel guilty about it.

Guilt about feeling guilt.  Unjustified guilt sandwich that doesn’t taste near as good as a pb&j.

And I’m not going to say that it’s a bad emotion, because we all know there’s no such thing as good or bad emotions.  They all have their purpose and it’s important to allow yourself to feel it.  It’s just how you try to assuage it that makes it a little more complex.  Most people with an eating disorder will feel so guilty about having eaten that they need to do something to assuage the guilt.  If the guilt was justified, such as the guilt you feel when you hurt someones feelings, it’s a harmless fix.  Say you’re sorry, and the guilt is at least mostly gone.  With unjustified food guilt, this “righting of the wrong” is usually a behaviour, and not a healthy one.

Restriction for the next meal, snack, day, week, etc.

Purging.

Laxatives.

Going for a run… or nine.

Self harm.

Seems ridiculous to those who don’t suffer.  Heck, it seems ridiculous to those of us that do.  We’d never tell someone else to do the things we do… but rules of kindness and self compassion don’t apply to us.  We’re different, of course.

So how do you deal with unjustified guilt?  Specifically unjustified food guilt?

You sit with it.

Oh I’m sorry, did I disappoint you?  I know you were hoping for a miracle pill just like those fat absorbing tablets you can down after your meal to assuage the guilt you feel for a burger from Wendy’s.  Or perhaps you were expecting me to say, “Well, the guilt serves a purpose: is healthier than so the guilt you feel is kind of appropriate.

There is no kind of appropriate.  There is no coming at it half way.  You can’t say, well I’m going to beat my eating disorder, or my disordered eating (because the majority of the world suffers from this) by allowing myself to eat a burger 3 times a week, or a brownie once a month.  Let’s be honest here.  What happens if you’ve already had 3 burgers this week, and then suddenly your boss decides to have a lunch meeting at Smashburger? Or if you happen across an amazing bakery in your travels with these incredible looking brownies that you only have the one occasion to try, but it’s only 23 days since your last brownie?

You’ll find yourself in one of two scenarios:

  1. You “indulge” in the food, either with a normal portioning or to excess because “I’ve already screwed up”, and you feel a profound sense of guilt, shame, and decreased self worth for “being bad” or “lacking willpower”.
  2. You flat out refuse the food, and then spend a large chunk of time feeling unsatisfied and unhappy because you didn’t listen to your craving.  And then potentially this leads to an eventual binge because you’ve deprived yourself.

I don’t know about you, but either scenario sounds rather depressing to me.

pretzelguilt

The Guilt and Deprivation Balance (aka why ED sucks), and a homemade pretzel!  Twas my first time making pretzels… did you know that if you add baking soda to water, it explodes?!  I now know… and so did my completely white stovetop.  But the deliciousness factor was so worth the clean up.

Because, when deprivation is high, your guilt is low.  Sounds good right?

Except you’re deprived.  And no one likes to feel deprived.  No one deserves to feel deprived.  And eventually, and understandably, you will rebel and the balance will flip.

There is zero deprivation (may or may not include a binge), but your guilt is so high, it’s unbearable.  Cue compensatory behaviour.

So how do we even this out?  How do we not make that scale so black and white, guilt or deprivation?

You gotta get rid of the unjustified guilt, THROUGH a lack of deprivation.  So when the guilt is unjustified, you sit with it.  You sit with all of the uncomfortable feelings, the urges to compensate, and the shame that comes alongside of the guilt, until eventually it subsides.  And then you do it again.  You do it over, and over, and over, at high frequency until you no longer feel the unjustified guilt for eating a burger, pizza, or cake.

For me, this has entailed a systematic reintroduction of all my fear foods one at a time, but at a high frequency.  We’re talking EVERY SINGLE DAY, again and again and again, until I’m not only sick of the food, but I AM NO LONGER SCARED OF IT.

Not one or the other.  Both sick of it, AND not afraid of it.

I’ve done this in my previous attempt at recovery, but it was different.  It wasn’t every day the same food, AND I was still allowed to exercise.

Let’s be honest again: this solves nothing.

I’ll eat anything if you allow me to run for three hours afterwards.

So really, when I thought I was no longer afraid of things, that really wasn’t true, because I was always compensating and slowly becoming more and more hooked on exercise.  Until eventually, I was exercising for more than six hours a day, and once again decreasing my intake more and more and more.

AKA: Relapse.

So this hasn’t been comfortable, because for once I’ve actually had to sit with the fears.  Literally sit.  Literally shake.  Literally bawl my eyes out until I have no more tears left in me and I’m severely dehydrated.  I’ve literally had to get my Mom to physically hold me down while I thrashed and kicked and screamed trying to claw my way to the treadmill.  I’ve screamed at myself, called myself vicious and horrible things, and practically clawed my own eyes out.  And my anxiety has been at some record highs.  Duh.

And, here’s the thing:  You can expect a TOTAL MELTDOWN for every food.  Yes, it sucks.  BUT, eventually, it passes.  And eventually it gets easier.  And eventually the fear goes away.  It might take weeks.  Yes, weeks of the same food every day.  But this has also been an occasion to get really creative to keep myself from getting bored.

My first food was… dun, dun, dun… Pizza.  And it took over a week.  So what did I come up with?

pizzacookie1

Breakfast oatmeal pizzookie topped with greek yogurt, peanut butter, bananas and raspberries

IMG_3279

Made up recipe: Apple crumble pizza, with a graham cookie flour (aka ground graham crackers instead of flour 🙂 ), cinnamon cream cheese sauce, toasted pecans, caramelized apples, and a brown sugar butter crumble

IMG_3204

Dessert for Two’s chocolate raspberry almond pizza: melted dark chocolate chip “sauce”, raspberries, toasted coconut and almonds, and a white chocolate drizzle

IMG_3201

Pita pizza, topped with butternut squash purée, chard, onions, crispy chickpeas, a little bit of cheese, and alfredo sauce

IMG_3321

Painting day, and take out greek and chicken pesto pizza

IMG_3325

Polenta pizza crust, topped with black beans, mozzarella, avocado spinach purée, sautéed onions and spinach, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, greek yogurt, and cilantro

IMG_3326

Thin crust pizza topped with a roasted garlic butternut squash purée, kale, sautéed onions, bacon, mozzarella, and alfredo sauce

And since then we’ve moved on to loafs.  Anyone following my instagram will have seen my current fascination with french toasted banilla (aka pumpkin, banana, vanilla bread) from How Sweet Eats.

frenchtoast

And so far, the loaf is taking much more out of me than the pizza… but I have some serious sweet bread issues from the hospital, so that would make sense.  And the rest of my list is long… so I’ll be at this a while. But that’s okay, because you’ll be here to take the journey with me.

And in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.

jim-carrey

Ahh Jim Carrey.

Food Rules: My Steps to Liberation

Potential Trigger Warning:  Anything and everything can be a trigger.  But this is a forewarning, I do intend to get semi specific here, particularly on the concept of food rules, and some of mine.  It is up to you to decide if you are in a place mentally in this moment to be able to cope with this.  If not, be gentle with yourself and respect that.  I won’t be offended.  There is no shame. ❤


Hello all 🙂 !

It’s been a while, yet again.  For me it’s been a rumble tumble couple of weeks.  In a certain sense, it’s been completely empowering, while in another sense it’s been totally debilitating.  But let me catch you up.

Where did we leave off?

Oh, yes, Halloween (Please excuse my low quality Instagram photo)!

Happy Halloween from work! #yesileftthehouselikethis 🎃🎃

A post shared by tiffany (@cookiecrumbsandcarrottops) on

So perhaps it was a low quality, hot glue gunned costume, but my gum ball machine ended up winning me the first prize at work!  Aka, I was more than reimbursed for my still bitter about costs of creating said costume, so I guess I can let it go (although if holding onto the grudge might get me another Starbucks latte, I’m willing to hold onto it!)

Halloween was relatively uneventful otherwise for me.  I discovered that while not near as big a fan as I once was of Peanut M&Ms, they still are pretty tasty in a chocolate/peanut pinch.  I also discovered that I can’t stand Snickers, upon trying them for the first time (a fact that my Snicker -loving dietitian can’t seem to come to terms with… it’s okay.  Breathe.  We can still love peanut butter together!).

Since then, we’ve created a list of all my food rules, as the only way to become an intuitive eater is by being able to listen to your body not only about how much you should eat, but also about what type of food you’re craving at the time.  Hence, food rules, telling you what you can eat with what, or when you can eat one thing, or what you can eat later if you already ate x, y, or z, today kind of make that whole mindful, intuitive thing impossible.

Let me tell you guys: it’s an incredibly long list.  Like multiple pages.  You’d think, after going through hospital once, residential treatment once, and outpatient for quite some time, I would have made my peace with them.  Yeah, not so much.

Food Rules (Yes, even the R gets a capital, because it’s that important of a concept), are one of the key facets of an eating disorder.  Our every day existence is governed by rules, some of our own creation, and others that we adopt, either upon hearing it from someone else, or by doing something enough times that it becomes scary to do, or not do it.  And I say every day existence, because the food rules often lead to exercise rules, or vice versa, and extend far beyond the confines of a 9 inch dinner plate.

For me, the process to creating a food rule is a complex, and yet incredibly simple one:

  1. Hear someone else’s food rule.  Bing.  This is almost a no brainer.  I’m a complex, multifaceted person, but when it comes to this guy, I’m like a dog and a squirrel, or a pigeon and something shiny.  Stop whatever you’re doing, and become totally obsessed and distracted by said object/concept until it disappears.  Except a rule is an idea not an object, so it never disappears, and I can’t just chase it up a tree.

This is why eating disorder books, even if recovery focussed can be incredibly dangerous for many people.  Let me set the stage:

Page ___: “For me, my decent into oblivion started small, with the little things.  I decided that ______ was bad, and so therefore, I no longer ate it……. and eventually I was down to _________ pounds.   Since then I have realized that this is a totally unbalanced and unrealistic approach to eating. ”

This doesn’t matter because x+y=z, ____+_____ = bad, or _____+ ______ = weight loss/gain so therefore, THOU SHALT NOT _______. Food rule= bing!

Did that make sense?  Fill in the blanks for yourself, I’m sure you can do it!  Eating disordered or not, because even people that don’t have an eating disorder have some disordered eating, or things that they avoid for reasons other than personal preference.

Side note:  Is anyone else now thinking about that episode of friends where they make fun of Chandler’s last name (Bing!)?  Just me?  Really?!  Moving on…

For me there were two sources of a few of my food rules, one being Portia de Rossi’s book “Unbearable Lightness”, and the other, Andie Mitchell’s site Can You Stay for Dinner? Now don’t get me wrong, I think both of these can be an incredible resource as well!  Andie’s outlook of eating things with real ingredients, incorporating dessert, and eating to satisfy ones tastebuds is commendable (not to mention her delicious recipes!), but for me it was the numbers, the calorie counts, the how many servings of protein, fat, carbs etc you should have in a salad, that got me.  And as for Portia’s book, it was so therapeutic in most respects because it felt so relatable!  I was reading it and I was like, YES!  Thank you for describing how I’m feeling in a way that only one who is suffering can understand!  But for me, it was the ways in which she body checked herself to see if she was “fat” or “skinny” that became my “markers of fatness”.  I won’t describe them here, for not wanting to trigger someone else, but I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one who’s experienced this phenomenon.

Once again, I hold no personal vendetta.  I will not condemn people who write recovery focussed books, blogs, or the like (hello?!  What am I doing?!), but it’s such a fine line.  And it’s one that I’m sure I as a writer will, if I have not already, trip over many times for other people.  My point here is not so much to condemn the writer, but rather to allow people to understand where rules stem from, and moreover to caution the READER to know where you’re at when you start reading a “recovery resource”, and be aware of the potential triggers that may lie within.  Being triggered is a part of the human experience, and a necessary part of the recovery process, but you have to be in a place where you are willing to challenge said triggers as well.

Moving on…

2) Being too repetitive with what I am doing/eating.  This one is huge.  For me, it does not take me doing something with great frequency to create a rule around it: it can be as little as twice, especially if it is two days in a row.  For example:

I eat a salad for lunch one day, because I’m legitimately feeling like a salad.  The next day I eat another salad because the one from the day before tasted so delicious.  The third day (particularly if there was a weigh in in between and the outcome is “favourable” ed-wise, or even if not “favourable” at least not grossly “unfavourable”), I might feel a little like a salad, but I feel more like a quesadilla, or a sandwich… but the salad is “better” for me because it has x,y, and/or z, OR because the salad is the ONLY reason I had a “favourable” outcome.  THOU SHALT EAT SALADS EVERY DAY FOR AT LEAST ONE MEAL! Bing.

This is a toughy, because something that started out as a legitimate preference and attempt to follow your natural cravings became disordered, and it’s one I’m still trying to navigate for various foods and behaviours.  I’d say this point is the number one way for me that most of my food rules, and in particular exercise rules (doing the same activity twice and seeing a “favourable” outcome), were created.

This is also where a lot of medical floors in hospitals fail eating disordered patients.  I actually created a lot more rules, and probably my number one food rule when I was hospitalized and they began the process of weight restoration.  Hospitals have budgets, and hospitalization for eating disorders is not the norm or a large percentage of their patient database (thank God.), so as a result, they can’t actually be super variety filled in what they give them.  However, at least for me, being fed the exact same foods day in and day out, with large frequency even throughout the day, led to a cornucopia of foods being labelled as “fat foods” or “weight gain foods”, and to this day it causes me so much anxiety to consume them that I might end up in a ball on the floor, or compensating to the extreme in some manner just because I ate them.

Hence, this is one of the main reasons that eating a variety-filled diet is so important in eating disorder recovery.  Not only does this give you the maximum nutrient profile and range of benefits from all types of food (as all foods have different nutrients, and macronutrients that are all beneficial for you in their own ways), but it also discourages the creation of rules around food and behaviours.

HOWEVER, on the flip side:

3) Having so much variety, that it becomes scary to eat the same thing multiple times.  This… sigh. This is where I find residential treatment fails people, if it’s not handled properly.  The focus becomes so extreme on having variety, that it creates new rules.  Anyone who was at my treatment facility with me would have no problem seeing why I struggle to be okay with sandwiches and desserts, as they were things we had an extremely specific and low number of times per week.  I realize now, that this is because there’s so many other foods out there, and the idea is to expose you to as many as possible, BUT if the patient knows exactly how many times they’re going to have to face a bowl of ice cream or cake in a week, it’s almost impossible for them not to create a rule about it.  Same goes for sandwiches.  If you only eat them times per week, when I leave here, it doesn’t matter if I want a sandwich even one more time than that per week, because I can only ever have it times.

And I graduated, so therefore I’m recovered!

I’m replacing old food rules with new ones! YAY!

No.  This is not recovery.  I managed to convince myself I was on a good path, because clearly these new rules are “healthy” ones right?  I mean if that’s what they’re “teaching” us to eat, and its supposedly so “balanced” this must be what I’m “supposed” to do.

x+y= z, remember?

3) Calories. Dear lord.  This is a topic that deserves books upon books, not just a single bullet.  For a vast percentage of the eating disordered population THIS (or counting macros) is the governing body of the food rules.  Never mind the eating disordered population, even the population in general governs their intake by these obscure numbers.  Why else would you be able to go to probably 60-70% of fast food/smoothie bar/chain restaurants and see the calorie count of their products either readily available in pamphlet form, or PRINTED DIRECTLY ON THE MENU NEXT TO THE PRODUCT!

Why do I never order whipped cream on my PSL?

Why did I have a mental breakdown yesterday upon ordering a smoothie from Jugo Juice?

Calories.  Calories are the devil.  And there is absolutely no way you can call yourself an intuitive eater if your intake for the day, week, or meal, must fit in an arbitrary box of numbers.  It is impossible to listen to what you’re truly craving, if you only allow yourself to crave something between the range of x and y.

Not to mention the fallacy of calories anyways.  Did you know in the US by law, the calorie count of a nutritional label has a margin of error of 20%?* Yep, 20% plus OR minus! AKA, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE EATING IN A DAY!  I know you think you do… I think I do!  But you don’t, and I don’t!  Because what if that tablespoon of peanut butter was minus 20%, or that wrap was plus 20%, and the carrot sticks you measured on your weigh scale were less energy dense due to growing conditions?  You have no idea!

I must move on, because this in itself is another post coming in the near future.  Stay tuned.

So how do we break the cycle?  How do we crush the food rules to a pulp?  How do we make the bridge to intuitive eating, to listening to how much our bodies want and what our bodies want, and eating to satisfy that need?

I DON’T KNOW!

If you were looking for a solve-world-peace-type answer, you don’t get one.  I’m not a magician, I’m a recovering anorexic who can also pull bunnies out of her hat!

Actually I can’t.

Wow, sidetracked.

Anyways…

The first step is obvious.  Acknowledge you have them.  And the best way of doing this, in my experience is to eat.

No I’m not kidding.

Eat something.  Or rather, when you’re hungry, go to your kitchen and look for something.  And then realize all the thoughts that come into your head when you spot an item.  Guarantee if you probe yourself, you’ll realize those thoughts you have when you’re trying to decide what to have are rules, or at least they stem from them.

THEN!

Oh it’s getting exciting…

WRITE IT DOWN!  Do it!  In that instant, before you forget to do it!  Before you forget you have a rule about it.  DO IT NOW!

I’m going to share with you my list.  And chances are it will grow, and keep growing as I try to eat more things.  That’s what it’s doing on an almost daily basis at the moment.  And YES!  I remember what I wrote… You know.  About how it’s super easy to adopt other people’s rules.  Which is why I have hemmed and hawed about it… do I write out my list?  Do I add fuel to the ED fire?

Yep.  Because as I have mentioned.  Triggers are a part of life.  And if I do trigger you, that is a great thing to explore in your therapy session!  Or your dietician appointment!  Or just within yourself.  If I do trigger you, you have a chance to realize that you have the same rule, and QUESTION IT!  QUESTION yourself!  Why do I have it?!

Plus, my list here is more than a list.  It’s also ideas for how I’m going to/have already challenged it.  And reasons for why the rule itself is ridiculous.  Try not to do the all too easy strikethrough as you read the more balanced side of the equation.

STEP 1: Acknowledge you have FOOD/EXERCISE RULES! (Write it Down)

Food Rules Challenge Why is it STUPID?
not allowed 3 carb exchanges at one meal    
fun food can only be 80 calories eat coconut blondie with lunch (couldn’t know exact calorie count) A fun food is something you enjoy, and enjoyment can’t be measured in calories.

Calories are unrealistic measures of energy, as each body processes calories differently, and you can’t know the exact energy content of anything (20% margin of error)

Calories are necessary.  They’re energy.  They fuel your body.  Don’t give them more power than that.

no more than 3 exchanges for a snack    
only one dessert per day eat coconut blondie twice in one day Dessert is not the devil.  Having dessert doesn’t negate the nutritional value of everything else you’ve eaten.

A carb is a carb, a fat is a fat, protein is protein.  Energy is energy.  Dessert is not “bad” anymore than salads are “good”.

Eating something you enjoy will satisfy you, making you less likely to overeat later.

Only one bread/bread type product per day grilled cheese with lunch, soup salad etc, and a bread type thing for snack Not one food will make you fat, and there are no weight gain foods.

Bread, especially whole grain breads, are full of good nutrients too.  And they’re delicious.

no more than one fruit serving at a time Smoothie on weigh in day

Make smoothie for snack at home

Fruits are carbs, just like any other.  Yes, they have sugar, but they are also packed with fibre and other good vitamins and nutrients for your body that just eating a teaspoon of sugar doesn’t give you.
stay away from paleo recipes- no big man’s world recipes cake batter dip/banana bread dip for breakfast + flavored latte The only reason this is a rule is because your eating disorder isn’t as practiced at counting it.  And we don’t want to count things anyways!

Paleo on a day is fine.  Just like another day you may eat more carbs.  If it sounds good eat it.  It won’t always sound good anyways!

no yogurt with dessert    
meal plan is a maximum of everything (ie no more than 2 pro, 2 fats, etc)    
No nuts, avocado, cheese, croutons, or anything substantial (ie not veggies or a very small amount of fruit) on a side salad    
No more than one exchange worth of nuts in meals (ie alot of bucket list recipes are automatically out)    
must use one of my coffee breaks (15 min) at work for a walk Instead of walking outside (and freezing your butt off):

•  walk around the inside of the grocery store looking for fun products

•  just play on your phone

Exercise does not have to equal food.  Be enthused to move, not to burn calories or make up for eating something.

There are many other more enjoyable things than a Canadian winter.

no ben & jerry’s or haagen daas… ever eat a scoop of ice cream (and no running in place:)) Ben & Jerry’s are delicious, and there is no good or bad foods.

Ben & Jerry’s has lots of real food ingredients, like nuts, dark chocolate, things you can pronounce on the label!

IT’S ICE CREAM!

no mayo/butter on a sandwich if I’m using cheese or avocado    
any protein recipe that says “serve with a salad” or shows plating in pictures which has no CHO, just veggies, means I must serve it that way.  (ie, pork tenderloin with roasted grapes I made, had to be served with veggies not rice)    
fruit with meals instead of veggies=terrifying. If done, must eliminate another exchange somewhere, preferably a CHO    
root vegetables always become the starch (ie turnips, carrots, beets, etc), so no other starches with them (ie butternut squash pasta=terrifying, or if beets are picked as a veggie, must serve it with another veggie and protein as opposed to rice etc)    
smoothies plus anything is still terrifying    
no take out chinese, no no no Duh- Eat take out Chinese with friends or family when you’re all craving it. One meal doesn’t make a pound.  There are no such things as weight-gain foods, or fat foods, or anything like that.  Everyone eats take out from time to time, and it’s part of having a normal relationship with food.
lattes with flavour shots or other things mixed in (ie pumpkin puree etc) are meals/snacks in and of themselves and are not to be eaten with other things Have a latte with a meal. A flavour shot makes it taste more palatable at times.  That’s all it is.  I don’t even like things uber sweet, so for the few calories it adds, it’s not a big deal!  It’s all about the FLAVA!!
No cake-y things (muffins, banana bread, loaves, cornbread, doughnuts). Kind of acceptable if eaten as dessert in small amounts.  Definitely not snack.  If eaten at breakfast rest of day must be clean. Eat muffin for fun food with lunch OR for a snack (2 muffins OR muffin with nut butter OR muffin with latte OR muffin with yogurt) No one food makes you fat.  No one food makes you gain weight.
No doughnuts. Evil unhealthy gluttony food. Eat a donut from a bakery, as well as bake some cinnamon roll baked donuts from here Baked goods are not the devil. Having baked goods doesn’t negate the nutritional value of everything else you’ve eaten.

A carb is a carb, a fat is a fat, protein is protein. Energy is energy. Dessert/sweet treats are not “bad” anymore than salads are “good”.

Eating something you enjoy will satisfy you, making you less likely to overeat later.

No pasta with garlic bread    
No banana ice cream (because more than ½ a banana at one time is really really scary) Make banana ice cream for a snack, use a whole banana in a smoothie Bananas are more nutritionally dense than other fruits (hence the fear), but along side of that comes the fact that they are full of vitamins and minerals, are full of fibre, and are high in tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in your brain (aka the happy-mood neurotransmitter).  Plus they’re just the most delicious fruit known to man.  Obviously.
No gum Have a piece of gum on a travel day (as I tend to want it only on car trips) Seriously?  We’re talking about such a small calorie concentration, you probably burn more chewing it than you do eating it!
No mexican type meals like quesadillas, fajitas, tacos etc, AND tortilla chips Tacos with Chips

 

Carbs are not the devil any more than any other macronutrient.   Some meals are naturally more carbohydrate dense, but one meal does not determine your weight, shape, size or otherwise. Plus certain foods naturally go together and are delicious as a pairing.
No wraps with a carby filling (ie sweet potato or rice, etc) Breakfast burrito with sweet potato Carbs are not the devil any more than any other macronutrient.   Some meals are naturally more carbohydrate dense, but one meal does not determine your weight, shape, size or otherwise. Plus certain foods naturally go together and are delicious as a pairing.
No full sandwich with soups (and soups must be vegetable, no significant protein or CHOs in them)    
Exercise must be for one hour or it doesn’t count, doesn’t burn enough, etc

 

   
No whole baked sweet potato at a time.    

So you have your list.  Now what?

I have an inkling on how to get rid of food rules.  It’s that damn thing that we all hate… exposure therapy. And repeated exposure therapy.  See for the past few months it’s been like, “Okay, I’ll challenge a fear food!” and I did.  Yay, me.  But I did it once.  And the rule never went away.  Like last week, I ate a bagel:

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And that’s pretty huge, and awesome and whatnot, but I did it once.  And I kind of skimped the rest of the day.  And based my following food choices on the bagel.  And guess what?  One week later… I’m still here!  But I’m still afraid of the bagel.

See, it’s not enough to just do something once.  You gotta do it over and over and over and over and over, until it’s no longer scary to do it.  AND you gotta not get in the way of your rule-creating self, and be all predictable about it because, see point 3- you do it a specific day, or a specific number of times and… say it with me… bing!  You’ve created another rule to replace the old one and are simply trying to convince yourself you’re okay with something that you’re actually not.  Realize what you’re doing.  Don’t judge yourself for it, but be aware that it’s happening and that it’s not sustainable long term.

STEP 2: Repeated Exposure Therapy (or Opposite Action)

I’ve challenged bagels before, when I first got out of residential treatment.  My old dietician and I decided I was going to kick it in the butt by eating a bagel every day for a week.  EVERY SINGLE DAY.  And if I still was scared of it by our next session, I was going to do it again.  EVERY SINGLE DAY.

And you know, I was in a fairly good state of mind, so it went relatively smoothly.  I had a bagel every day for a week.  We got to my next appointment and weighed in… and I had actually lost weight.  WHAT?!  I ate bagels and lost weight!  In that instance I convinced myself, okay, bagels are fine.  Bagels are not scary.  Bagels are good.

Sunshine and lollipops right?

Yeah… I’m leaving out a piece of the puzzle.

I left residential treatment and was fairly convinced that I was on the up and up with my eating disorder.  I was in charge.  Except for that oh so important little piece that I preferred to live in denial about.

I had no control over my exercise.  I was still going food=calories, and calories+me+ ingestion= must do exercise to maintain weight/burn off the stuff I ate.

Healthy relationship right?  Calories in must equal calories out.

Not only is this belief disordered and simplistic, it is also not correct.  There are soooooo many other factors that come into play (Once again, post about calories coming soon!).  AKA, the relationship is not that mechanical!  AND you can’t be an intuitive eater, and liberate yourself from food rules if you have exercise rules too, or other means of compensation for eating something.  That in itself, is a rule!

STEP 3: Do not engage in compensatory measures, food wise, or exercise wise.

I can guarantee you that if you do, the fear will never disappear.  OR, in other words, you’ll create another rule to replace the old one: “I can only eat a bagel, if I do x, y, or z.” Bing!

STEP 4:  Be okay with imperfection, slips, and difficulties.

Challenging a belief, any belief, is hard.  Changing a behaviour is hard.  When something is engrained in your brain, you’re not going to sail through doing the opposite without resistance and mistakes.  You’re going to compensate.  You’re going to struggle.  It’s impossible to eat perfectly.  It’s impossible to be a perfect anorexic.  It’s impossible to be a perfect bulimic.  It’s impossible to have a perfect body.  And likewise, it’s impossible to have a perfect recovery!

Hence, my rumble tumble couple of weeks.  I get down to the core of things, my cardinal beliefs, and I have to own up to them and challenge them.  Cue the anxiety.  The debilitating anxiety that one day took me so far beyond my comfort zone I almost threw up, was curled up in a ball for a good chunk of the day, couldn’t breathe, think, or socialize.  I was in my own world.   I was in the worst anxiety high that I’ve had since I was first hospitalized years ago.  It was hell.  But I got through it.  I still ate.  I slipped, don’t get me wrong.  I compensated.  But I’m not perfect.

You’re going to slip up.  Accept it.  Be gentle with yourself, and acknowledge that it’s hard.  But, don’t let it stop you.  Pick yourself up, and do it again.  Eat the bagel, engage in the behaviour, but the next morning, eat the bagel again.  Do it over and over.  And eventually, you won’t do that behaviour.  Be gentle with you.  And be proud that you tried.  And then be even prouder when you succeed!  BECAUSE YOU WILL!

STEP 5:  Keep the Momentum Going

Yes, keep challenging all your beliefs around food and exercise, and move through your list.  But also, remember that ED is a sneaky little beast.  Just because you’ve succeeded does not mean you’re done.  Keep the momentum going.

Chances are, if you stop being afraid of the food, and then you stop eating it for months on end, you’ll subconsciously become afraid of it again.  Like, I’m not scared of peanut butter (98% of the time, the other 2% of the time it’s some other food rule influencing it) anymore,  but I guarantee if I stopped eating it for 3 months (Pssshaw why would I do that?!) I would be again.  You have to keep eating everything.  Don’t narrow, don’t let your guard down.  Maybe years upon years from now, but maybe not ever.  Keep the momentum going.

And now some photo spam of all the things I’ve been challenging:

Coconut blondies from Top With Cinnamon, to challenge the

Coconut blondies from Top With Cinnamon, to challenge the “No more than one dessert a day” rule

Spiced Apple and Carrot Muffin by Hummusapien for my aversion to

Spiced Apple and Carrot Muffin by Hummusapien with my lunch for my aversion to “cake-y” things.

Amaretto latte with my lunch for the

Amaretto latte with my lunch for the “No flavoured lattes” rule.

And today's slightly less visually appealing but delicious double whammy! Paleo Banana Bread Batter by The Big Man's World for the

And today’s slightly less visually appealing but delicious double whammy! Paleo Banana Bread Batter by The Big Man’s World for the “No paleo” rule, and an amaretto latte (repeated exposure therapy 🙂 )

And that’s all I’ve got for you.  Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.  But recovery, and relapse, and recovery teaches you a thing or two, and I’m hoping I’ve got a few tools in my toolkit, and a little bit more peanut butter on my spoon than before.

Defining “Normal”

So guys, guess what day it is???

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MY BIRTHDAY!

No, not really. But that would have been really fun… I mean, even if you don’t like the idea of getting older, who doesn’t, somewhere, deep inside, secretly love birthdays?! You can’t tell me that balloons, and flowers, and that extra little bit of love you feel doesn’t warm you up somewhere on the inside.

Alas, it’s not my birthday. But guess what day it IS?

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Have you figured it out yet?

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That’s right, Friday! Specifically, fear food Friday! I mentioned this before, but I’ll recap. When I was in residential treatment, Friday was the day you kind of loved to hate a little bit, because chances are that you were going to be challenged with a typical fear food on that day, at least once. I mean sure, they denied it, but we all knew when we got that 7 am wake up call that we were walking downstairs to pancakes with whipped cream, or “cheese surprise” (basically extremely cheesy mac and cheese) for dinner that night. Or that one day… that ONE day, where they gave us pizza for lunch, milkshakes for afternoon snack, and then surprised us when we thought it couldn’t get any worse by putting heaping mounds of pasta on our plates for dinner.

Yeah, that wasn’t pretty. A lot of Ativan was given out that night…

Anyways, Fridays tended to push our boundaries a bit in terms of what we ate. This was stressful for sure, but, at least for me, there was still a small part of me that really looked forward to Friday just because I knew I was going to be able to have something that, chances are, I really enjoyed (except for the whole pancakes and whipped cream thing… I’m not huge on pancakes, I legitimately can’t stand whipped cream, and the alternative was syrup and butter, which we all know that despite my Canadian roots, I find repulsive too). And there was this whole permission thing… like I could let myself enjoy it because I didn’t have a choice but to eat it. So in some ways that obligation was my scapegoat, and my way to assuage any guilt I felt. Or at least most of it.

When we got through that day, in particular the pizza, pasta, and milkshake one, the next morning we all pretty much went on strike with the dietician. We insisted that eating like that was not “normal”, that even people we know without eating disorders did not eat like that in the “real world”.

Our dietician had a rough job… actually all eating disorder dieticians do, because so often they become the enemy in the recovery relationship. They become the evil one that is just trying to get you “fat”, and the one that you can hurl all the horrible garbage that is swirling around inside your head at. Let me tell you, that day she got a beating from roughly twenty outraged patients. Ever cool and collected, I remember her sitting in her chair and insisting, in her quiet but firm, no nonsense way that this WAS “normal” eating.

Believe me when I say that none of us were convinced.

But as I move farther in my journey, albeit after a relapse, albeit being in a worse state now physically than I was on that fateful fear food filled (alliteration is fantastic, is it not?!) Friday, I can say I’m definitely in a different mental state now than I was then.

For me, relapsing in many ways has resulted in a harder recovery this time around. The depression that accompanied the acquisition of such a low BMI was much much worse this time around, and the resulting hole that I dug for myself seemed that much harder to climb out of. Or rather, I didn’t have the mental energy to build the ladder needed to help me climb out of the hole.

Before, the threat of dying, the threat of having a heart attack, the threat of not waking up in the morning was enough to allow me to take the initial steps on the recovery path. This time it was different. I knew the battle that lay ahead, and I knew the end result: weight restoration, and yes fat acquisition, but even more so, a body that I never learned to love. A skin that I never felt comfortable in, regardless of all the therapy. The constant feeling of wanting to crawl out of yourself, or hide yourself away because you feel so ashamed of the physical body you are in.

And more than once, as I worked my way down deeper and deeper into my anorexic pit this time, I found myself saying: if that is how I’m doomed to feel every day of my life, what is the point? Even at a weight restored place, even after rounds of therapy, my exercise was entirely linked to my intake, and my intake was controlled by a strict set of rules that had gradually gotten more and more specific. As I maintained a “pseudo-recovered” mindset, I fought so hard to ward off old, dangerous behaviors (like weighing and using measuring cups for food, or using calorie counters) that I just ended up developing new ones. And eventually the old behaviors came back too.

I didn’t see it. The threat of dying wasn’t enough when the threat of living was so overwhelming.

I never thought of suicide. I never wanted to end my life. I still don’t. But I was willing to let it go if that was what it came down to.

The admission of that is depressing.

All I’ve wanted, ever since my eating disorder first took hold was to have a “normal” relationship with food, to be able to eat “normally”, and to be able to maintain a healthy weight in a body that I felt comfortable in. This time, this goal felt so impossible that I was willing to let go if I had to.

In all of this, it sounds as though I was actually in a worse mental state this time than before. Perhaps I was, in some ways. But in others, I was leaps and bounds ahead of where I was the first time I decided to try and regain my health and happiness.

This time, I know the path I am on. I know, in general, what to expect. And, this time, I have an ability to be realistic and not naïve about the process. This time, I know that it’s not a simple matter of regaining the weight and then magically your life goes back to what it was. I know that I can’t expect to wake up one morning and have this all disappear, like it was just a bad dream.

Anyways, I have a point to this…

Going through the motions: recovery, relapse, recovery… and through the different phases: hospital medical ward, inpatient, residential, home, real world, and ALMOST (but not quite) hospital again, has taught me a lot that I didn’t know before. Or rather, I never thought about.

For example: the dietician sitting in her chair, insisting that the consumption of pizza, milkshakes, and pasta in one day was “normal”. No way!!

Except I know now… it kind of is “normal”. Actually, it’s so unbelievably “normal” that you can’t believe it.

I can see you all getting out your pitchforks… I can see some angry hater getting on my case about the obesity epidemic, about the “unhealthy” food choices and their ramifications in our modern society…

BUT, hear me out!

Firstly, I’m not getting into the whole argument on “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” foods. My goal in my own process is not to put such labels on anything, or to allow that judgment to reign supreme. Those labels are the source of deprivation, dissatisfaction, anxiety, stress, depression, and overall guilt and shame. With such ugly side effects, I don’t know why we’d want to swallow that pill?

Secondly, “normal” doesn’t exist. There really isn’t a set of rules, even though probably a good 90% of people believe there is. “Normal” is unique, and completely individual.

But, for the sake of the argument here, I’m going to use the word “normal” as I can’t really think of one to replace it. Perhaps balanced could, but context-wise, I think all of you eating disordered people out there will understand what I’m talking about, what I’m feeling and thinking, if I stick to “normal”.

Is it “normal” to eat pizza for lunch, a milkshake for snack, and then a big bowl of pasta for dinner? Yes!

I can say that now! I finally get where the dietician was going with this!

Yes! But here’s the catch: it doesn’t happen every day.

The label of “normal” has become almost synonymous with black and white, or all or nothing thinking. You’re “normal” or disordered, good or bad, skinny or fat, smart or stupid, starving or binging… the list goes on and on!

But picture this. You wake up on Friday morning and grab a quick breakfast before you head off to work or school. Lunch is in the cafeteria, and oh look, there’s pizza! And the salad at the salad bar either had someone just sneeze on it, making it totally repulsive, or you saw mold on the grated cheese on top because that one has been sitting in the grab and go case for WAY too long, or simply you just really don’t feel like eating it and are craving a slice of pizza. Doesn’t really matter. You grab a slice of pizza and go sit down to enjoy with your friends/colleagues. During lunch, you get to talking, and it’s Friday, so plans for the weekend are discussed. Someone mentions the new movie that came out this week, and everyone talks about how much they are looking forward to seeing it. Before you know it, plans are made to head to the showing tonight at seven. You’re excited!

After lunch you head off to class/work. The day progresses and you get busy: you have after school band/soccer practice, or a project is due to your boss first thing Monday morning. Either way, you get tied up and don’t get home until 5, 5:30…

Luckily, your spouse/parents was there and has cooked dinner: a delicious bowl of your favorite pasta in that amazing sauce. Not only is pasta relatively quick, but it’s usually fairly easy to make, and it tastes good to boot. You sit down and have a nice dinner that was lovingly prepared, while chatting about your respective days.

Before you know it, it’s time for the movie! You head out and meet your friends/coworkers at the cinema, and sit down to (insert emotion and response of choice here) your head off/eyes out/etc. Afterwards everyone decides that they’re really enjoying themselves and the night is young. How about going to the ice cream shop around the corner, someone suggests? Why not?

So you go. You order that classic favorite shake of yours (mine would be a combo of Caribou Caramel and Cookies and Cream J) and enjoy it with everyone else. After some prolonged socializing you head home and off to bed, thoroughly content with the course of your Friday. After all, TGIF!

And look what happened! You ate pizza, pasta, and milkshakes, all in one day. Not only did you live to tell the day of it, but also you didn’t even realize it. You didn’t even know that you committed some societal cardinal sins, and that you behaved so “abnormally”. You never even thought about it.

Because guess what… your “abnormal” was “normal”. It was special, social, fun, and guiltless. No shame.

This is why fear food Friday is so important!

Not only is it important to challenge our fears, whether they be food related, work related, or what have you, but it is important to remember that indulgence, that satisfying cravings, and that occasionally overeating is part of a “normal” lifestyle, and a “normal” relationship with food.

It doesn’t happen every day. And on those special days where it does, no harm, no foul. No guilt, no shame. No judgment, no fear.

Well, theoretically… easier said than done. It’s a bit hypocritical for me to say that considering that I almost had a melt down over a smoothie and nuts today… but I’m a work in progress. And I do believe that this outlook, while not totally embraced by me right now, is a healthy one, and one that I will strive to have, through fear food Fridays and my recovery journey in general.

So without further ado, here are some scary things I dealt with today:

Breakfast:

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I made a pumpkin bread breakfast bake with oats, topped with coconut peanut butter, and yogurt on the side. The fear: adding in a yogurt. I love yogurt, but somehow having yogurt when I have nut butter already is terrifying. Gotta love those fats and those calories! To top it off, a sprinkle of granola on top. Scary too!

Morning Snack:

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Harvest Crunch Granola. I wasn’t really sure what I felt like for snack today, but when I saw this guy in the cupboard it was calling me. I haven’t eaten it in so long, and really for me it’s a nostalgia thing, as my Dad used to make me a bowl before school often. The fear: additive sugars. For someone who is already afraid of granola as it packs a bit of a punch relative to volume, not making it myself and being able to control the additive sugar is always a challenge.

Lunch:

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A plate of indecision! Once again, I didn’t know what I wanted. Actually I did: I knew I wanted pretzels, and I knew I wanted black bean puree. Reality: I needed to use up some of the hummus, and those beans taste wayyyy better with cheese on top. The fear: Processed food (aka pretzels) typically judged as “junky”. Plus cheese. Plus the volume of beans and hummus… ED never likes multiples when the option exists to always have less. Plus kombucha… because I don’t drink my calories.

Afternoon snack:

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My doubler, and quite large snack of the day. I went shopping yesterday and bought protein powder for the first time as I have seen so many interesting looking posts around the web that use it. Decided to try this recipe. The challenge: smoothies tend to be scary with the sugar content, and the inability to totally count out exact servings of things… I knew I had to add to it as it wasn’t enough for me right now, but my judgment of “normal” portions kept getting in the way. Eventually I tried the KIND bar (normally love KIND bars) but that flavor was… unpalatable to me. Will not buy again. After two bites, went for some nuts instead, which my dog heartily supported. The fear: FATS! More to come on this, as I could go for pages and pages!

Dinner:

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Was on my own for dinner for the first time in a long time. So I did what every young person does when they’re on their own… roast chicken breast and cook boozy red wine cheesy pasta with fresh herbs and veggies! Not everyone does that? What? Is it just me? Then again, many people would say I’m the only person that plates their lunch at work and garnishes with fresh herbs and spices…The fear: Pasta, cheese, wine… you name it!

Dessert:

So my own personal (and dietician approved) challenge is to work my way through immaeatthat’s single serving cookie cookbook! I’ve had the cookbook since it first came out but have been too scared to use it! Daily challenges are the best! Today was a no-bake toasted coconut cookie with chocolate drizzle. The fear: fats, in chocolate and coconut, as well as the walnuts. Sugar in the dates.

One recipe a day, plus some yogurt (because I don’t like milk and cookies… sacrilegious I know) for the next 35 (because I started yesterday with 36!) days. Feel free to join me on this, or at least on your own Fear Food Friday challenges! And tag me, and let me know what you’re challenging yourself with, food-wise or in other aspects of life. I’d love to hear  🙂

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Because it’s “normal” to like cookies, too.