Bit of a different post today, but since being in lockdown, and especially since living with my girlfriend, I have been doing lots more baking and so I thought it might be useful to share my experience. This is something that has always been hard for me, and a complete no go during the depths of my ED and even in my early recovery. Consequently, my ability to do so is something I am proud of, and so I wanted to write about the things that have helped make it possible.
Last week, we made Carrot cake muffins following 'Oh My Goodness chocolate desserts" recipe (https://omgchocolatedesserts.com/carrot-cake-muffins-with-cheesecake-filling/). You should 100% check it out over on their site as they were completely delicious, but here I just want to talk you though how the process looked from a recovery perspective.
The first step was to make the cake batter, and this involved weighing out lots of different ingredients such a s flour, sugar and butter, all of which my ED is totally against. This has always been the scariest part of baking for me, as I become fixated on what goes into what I'm making, and then find myself unable to eat the end result. I don't have a quick fix for this one, but the support of my girlfriend has been major, as she is able to stop me making any alterations to the recipe to make it more "anorexia friendly". We have made a rule that we will not bake anything with the word "healthy" in the title. Therefore, if we find a picture of something yummy but it's described as "sugar free", "low fat", or even "vegan", then we will google an alternative that will inevitably be way better. In addition to this, I think what's enabled me to come closer to overcoming this fear is weight gain itself. As I move further in my recovery, I am gaining so much more than just the numbers... I am gaining my life back, and with this comes more mental space to make decisions for me, not for the ED voice in my head. It's amazed me how much perspective I have gained, as well as the ability to zoom out on life, and realise that the amount of butter I'm adding is not the worst thing in the world, and is only going to serve to make me happy when my muffins turn out amazing!
The next step in the recipe was to make the streusel topping and cream cheese filling and again, adding the different components caused me slight anxiety, but it was for sure outweighed by the joy I was getting from baking. Me and my girlfriend were having so much fun just messing around and filming TikTok's that I genuinely didn't care about trying to please my ED. As we started putting the mixture into the cases, I even licked the spoon with little thought or hesitation. This is completely foreign to me as it isn't something I've allowed myself to do in so long, despite it being in my opinion, one of the best parts of baking! Even though my girlfriend didn't really have much, I wasn't phased, and as you may already know if you follow me on Instagram (@the_recovery_bean), I was super proud of myself for having risen to this recovery challenge. I was tackling my rules around unknown calories, added extras, and comparison all in one.
Despite this, as I started to load the dishwasher, my ED voice grew louder and suddenly I was overwhelmed by a wave of guilt. I found myself trying to calculate the calories in the mixture, and working out how it fit into my previous intake for the day, even though I haven't engaged in this behaviour in months. I was taken aback and disappointed in myself for this lapse, and I'm not looking to sugar coat anything here, so I will tell you I did end up sat on the floor in the corner of the kitchen trying to push down the panic that was rising in me. That said, it was - as is all discomfort in recovery, only temporary. Furthermore, it does not mean that I failed at recovery or that I gave in to my ED, as the thoughts will inevitably surface, it's the actions we take that are important. Recovery is gruelling, and it's for this exact reason. There is no shame in having disordered thoughts no matter how far you are on your journey. Getting stressed out or finding something more challenging than expected doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong, it just means that you've got to fight that little bit harder in order to kick those last food rules and finally free yourself.
In the midst of the meltdown I convinced myself I could justify eating the mixture by not allowing myself a muffin when they came out of the oven. Of course though, this would have been me letting the ED win, as the real Mais didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to eat the freshly baked goodness. Consequently, I implemented opposite actions despite the fear, and shared a muffin with my girlfriend alongside a cup of tea. In order to do this I had to work my way around another ED obstacle however, as I genuinely wasn't hungry and felt physically very full. Despite this, I knew that I had to eat the muffin, as our ED's are sneaky, and even if I had a genuine reason for not doing so this time, I know my ED would have clung onto it. By this I mean that the next time I came to bake, it would have new rules in place that would make it even harder for me to eat whatever I'd made.
I hope this post may have helped some of you, and maybe inspired you to try and get back in the kitchen and give baking a go (and that means eating your bakes as well, not just obsessing over them!). This was hugely challenging for me, and not something that in early recovery I feel I personally would have benefited from, as I needed a lot of support and relied on other people to make my food for me. That said, it has been absolutely amazing to reach a point where I'm able to, and I don't ever want to go back to missing out on making these memories and getting to eat these delicious foods.
We have been trying out lots of different recipes including fun dinners and more snacks and desserts so let me know if you liked the style of this entry and I could maybe start as "Bake with me" series?!
Hope everyone's keeping safe,
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean <3