Something I've been thinking about a lot recently, is how we have a tendency to over complicate things in recovery. I've been feeling overwhelmed by the need to make all these decisions surrounding what and when I'm eating, and I've just now taken a step back to ask why? Why am I making it so difficult for myself?
It goes a little something like this...
I'll finish my dinner and head into the kitchen to get my dessert and just freeze. It's like some kind of food paralysis and I suddenly find myself glued to the spot, staring into the snack cupboard but unable to reach for what I want. Whilst I no longer calorie count, my brain is not yet fully rewired to resist this behaviour, and so although I don't make calculations in the same way I once did, I now find myself bombarded with lots of different thoughts. It's as if they're all flying in a million different directions, down both healthy and disordered paths, and they're colliding somewhere in the middle - exploding in my brain.
I've been trying to work out how to overcome this, as although I almost always win over my ED voice, it's annoying to have to go through this exchange every time I go to eat, and it seems a bit unnecessary given I already know the required outcome. It turns out that the answer has been right in front of me the entire time - I just need to stop over thinking it and eat.
That might seem unrealistic, and you might be screaming "What about the anxiety!?!?", but that's just it... take a second and think about where that anxiety's routed? It's in your ED. When we find ourselves in these situations, more often than not it's because we're crippled by the fear of getting it wrong, be it through picking an item of 'the wrong nutritional value' or 'misjudging our hunger'. Now read that again and notice how they are both disordered concerns... Whilst it might seem natural to want to play these against the fact you want to eat that bag of crisps, and then to play them again against your recovery mantras, we simply don't have to. Yes, at first these ED thoughts are going to be there, but we don't need to give them the time of day. It may seem instinctive to want to challenge them, because based on my general outlook on recovery, I wanted to as well, but I'm learning that there are times when it's more beneficial to just block the ED thoughts out all together. These are battles I don't need to be having, as the only thing my body needs to learn is that food is just food and so it can have whatever it desires, it doesn't need to look for permission.
This is hard initially as having been guided by numbers when making food choices for so long, and having convinced myself I don't like certain foods just because my ED deemed them bad, I struggle to know and trust what I actually want. It's as though I've forgotten what tastes and textures I like, but the only way to find this out is to try different foods and see! Therefore, I can't afford to be held back by my ED thoughts, as this process doesn't allow space for me to be afraid of certain foods.
I believe a lot of the anxiety we experience during recovery comes when we fail to fully commit to it. It's when we continue to question whether eating something is the correct choice or not that we find ourselves stressed. I think there's a big difference between trying to recover, and committing to recovery, as when we are trying, we are engaging in the mindset that we should be eating more, or carrying out fewer behaviours, but not that we should be eradicating them. Consequently, we are constantly making calculations in our heads and attempting to work out whether we're doing it 'right', when really we just need to do it. Following this logic, there is much less anxiety during committed recovery, as there is a massive reduction in the number of decisions you have to make, and as I said earlier, it is the inner conflict between our ED and rational voice that is the source of the discomfort we feel.
This is definitely something I'm still having to work on, as it's easier said than done to just ignore the ED thoughts. I have however found, that although it was not what I thought I would be doing in recovery, sometimes eating on auto-pilot can be really helpful. I know it won't be this way forever, so if it's what I need to do in order to move forward in recovery and relearn my likes and dislikes, I'm more than willing to.
Committing to recovery is scary, but having one solid goal of healing really is easier than trying to continue appeasing your ED, and furthermore it is way more effective! The initial acceptance of this is daunting, but I promise you it will be worth it.
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean <3