I've been trying to come up with a title for this blog entry all morning and I just can't find a catchy way to say "Some thoughts on how we can't allow ourselves to make even the tiniest restrictions as they are what keep the door open for our ED to creep in". I still don't have a good one, but I decided that this concept deserved it's own post as it's something that I've been thinking about a lot over the last couple of days, and I wanted to share it with you guys.
I think the best way to intro this is with a bit of a story time so you have some context...
So yesterday, 4pm rolled around and I was off to get my afternoon snack. I had stuck to my usual meal plan up until this point, and despite some slightly uncomfortable bloating, I was feeling pretty okay. My ED wasn't especially loud, in fact I was kind of just getting on with my day and not thinking about food too much at all, something that doesn't happen all that often for me, but that I've noticed once or twice recently. Anyway, I went into the kitchen and my mum had prepared some strawberries which I really fancied the look of, so I grabbed a bowl and sat down to eat them. I then continued as normal: I took my little dog Morts out on our routine afternoon walk, chatted to my dad on the phone for a bit, Facetimed my girlfriend, and then just after 6pm I sat down for a standard evening meal with my mum and stepdad. I had a few ED thoughts around this as it incorporated one of my fear foods, but with the help of distractions I got through it, and then about an hour later, finished off my day with my evening snack of some fruit salad.
All in all the day wasn't that problematic, and as I no longer calorie count, I can't say for sure whether it was actually under what I consume normally. This morning however, I've woken up with a niggling feeling. Whilst I believe my decision to eat fruit for two of my snacks yesterday was genuinely not fuelled by my ED, but by my cravings for it, it has unfortunately created an opening for my ED voice today. I have got little thoughts running through my head like "well you just had fruit yesterday, so you can't have crisps today - you'll get fat, or they're not as healthy". This is an issue. I know that I am going to challenge these thoughts with opposite actions today and get myself back on track, but none the less it has acted as bit of a wake up call as to how present my ED voice still is.
I find that I have the tendency to get a bit over confident when I have a good day, and so this has proved the importance for me, of not allowing myself to make any restrictions, even seemingly insignificant ones. I am still early on in my recovery, and so I can't afford to create any opportunity for my ED to get it's foot in the door, as it is still strong, and will grab onto any chance it gets to make me question my ability and desire to let it go. Whilst it may seem counter intuitive to eat something if it's not what your body wants, I know that for me, and for now at least, I must eat it anyway. By this I mean that just because my body wanted the strawberries not my normal snack, I can't allow this. I can honour my cravings but this means having the strawberries as an extra to my snack, and not compensating for them elsewhere in my meal plan. This isn't something I'll have to do forever, but it is necessary to ensuring my recovery isn't derailed by my ED voice sneaking in and threatening my ability to challenge it.
A further thought I had on the matter, is that not only has this made it harder for me to complete my usual meal plan today, but it has also potentially undermined the challenge I completed at dinner last night. This is because even if I wasn't aware of it at the time, my ED can twist what happened into a new rule, and so next time I face this fear food (today because challenge, REPEAT!) I may be making it harder for myself as I might believe that "I can only eat this food if I have fruit for a snack".
Typing all this out is reaffirming just how exhausting it is to have an eating disorder in the first place, and how it only gets more tiring as you try and recover from it! There are so many thoughts running through your head, and so many things you have to constantly assess. If it's not your ED making you question your food or exercise choices, then it's your rational mind having to consider whether your choices are genuine or disordered. It can be very overwhelming. It is however a burden that we have to deal with and accept in order to fully recover, as we can't let our ED edge it's way back in. Whilst being on high alert 24/7 is horrible, it won't be like this forever, and the life that waits for us on the other side makes it worth it.
I feel the need to summarise my thoughts a little because I'm aware I've rambled a bit in this post.
1. We can't allow ourselves to make even the smallest restrictions in recovery.
2. We can't give our ED the opportunity to creep back in or create new rules.
3. If we catch this happening, we must challenge it straight away using opposite actions.
4. Recovery is exhausting, but so worth it.
I hope this post was helpful to some of you, and maybe acted as a reminder as to how active we need to be in recovery to stop the ED voice sneaking up on us and trying to steal back control.
Hope you're all well and keeping safe :)
More from me soon,
Mais // The Recovery Bean <3