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WIAW- Really Listening

Posted Feb 29 2012 4:38am


I enjoyed reading people’s thoughts about the Runner’s World Magazine article! It’s great to hear that there is an agreement about the serious need for ED/DE awareness, and how perfect that attention is being brought to this during NEDA Awareness Week! Thank you for your personal opinion and taking the time to write such compelling comments.

Here we are, already halfway through the week (woot!) and therefore it’s time for the weekly blogging trend, What I Ate Wednesday! As always, thanks and appreciations go miss mastermind Jenn over at Peas and Crayons, who always does this for us :)

A major aspect of my recovery that I strive to identify and handle on a daily basis, is once again learning how to eat. Perhaps that sounds a bit odd? Well to me, it is a necessary goal, as re-teaching myself how to both approach and consume food is vital for recovery. I need to go back to the beginning, the basics… with the goal of internalizing the idea of “normal eating-”

  • Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied.
  • Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.
  • It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.
  • Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating.
  • Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life

Umm yeah, none of these are working very well for me right now.

For me and the theme of today’s WIAW, normal eating means something else- really listening to your desires, wants and cravings when it comes to food.

Although I have improved significantly, it’s still quite difficult for me to understand I am truly pining to consume. For far too long now, my attitude towards this necessary sustenance is that it’s the ENEMY- the dangerous and forbidden evil that makes my life miserable. Yes I never would completely restrict, as I understand that at least some extra calories were needed to sustain my extreme workout schedule, but it was NEVER enough and every time I ate food it was as if I was breaking a rule.

During the worst times, I would eat, but it was always healthy and “safe” foods, ones I knew would never allow me to gain weight. As a result, I would not take into account what I sincerely desired- flavors, textures, aromas… none of these things mattered as long as they had the nutritional information that passed my inspection.

On that note, I did enjoy the healthy items I ate–> pounds of fresh, sweet fruit, crisp vegetables, and my daily baked sweet potato “treat.” That was it though.. there was no room for anything else , and I sure as heck didn’t allow myself to even acknowledge the cravings I might be experiencing.

Now that my recovery has continued in the positive direction, I am working on taking the time to check in with myself to see what I want, what I am in the mood for… oh but what a work in progress that is. The fear and thought I associate with this idea is that I am “giving in” and showing weakness. I am a weak person for recognizing my cravings, because that is what will lead to weight gain, unhappiness, and a sense of shame. Even if it’s for something healthy, well it just can’t be right!

I mean, what if I start to constantly want junk food, sweets, sugary/fatty treats?! If I start eating them, how will I stop?

Now is the time to challenge those thoughts and really check in to see and feel what I want to eat, and to remember that it’s both OKAY to desire a salad with a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. It’s FINE to have ice cream at the end of the day. It’s ALRIGHT to crave chocolate in the morning, as it’s ALRIGHT to desire a nice crispy apple!

This also does go along with the normal eating definition and the continuous learning process of trusting my body. I need to trust the fact that if I do want “junkier,” fear foods, that it DOES NOT mean I am going to lose my marbles, go bat-shit crazy and eat this stuff all of the time. In fact, if I continue to DENY myself of my cravings, well a binge is likely to occur. I mean that is dieting 101.. not that I am on a diet of course but you know what I am saying!

I know I am scared of this happening but it will not if I indulge the craving, so that it is satisfied… I acknowledge flavor desire, consume it so that I am then satisfied, fulfilled, and then MOVE ON.

Alright so here is last Thursday’s dishes… a day where I woke up conscious of the fact that I was going into this day truthfully asking myself before each meal what I want to eat. Although this is just one day, it is a small step in understanding why I choose to eat the way I do, what is based on eating disorder desires, and what me, logical, healing Tessa, is truly craving for.

After my early morning circuit workout, I came back and showered and then asked myself, what do I want for breakfast today? It was a chilly, crisp morning, rainy and some sleeting, just an overall dreary winter day…. what would be a delightful meal that would provide some comfort, but also fulfill my taste buds and cravings?

This bowl consisted of- rolled oats, a sliced banana, plain Chobani (for extra protein!) vanilla soy milk, a plethora of cinnamon and a heap of nut butter. Cravings= satisfied.

Healthy? Certainly, and that is just fine. I replenished my body how I should and also did a great job of LISTENING.

About two or so hours later I was hungry again (shocker) and normally I would go for a piece of fruit with some almonds, an energy bar, or some kind of trail mix. But let’s see, am I really in the mood for something like that? What else could be an option? I mean I am hungry, but not starving by any means and lunch is not too far away.

I walked into my campus bookstore not too long after and immediately knew what I MORNING snack was going to be,

These holiday-themed Reeses definitely have more peanut butter in them, oh lawdd so dang good. I took a bite and savored the chocolate and peanut butter combination that I used to know so well when I was younger.

Here is the thing though, this snack felt incredibly “wrong” on every.single.level… and I could only bring myself to consume half. Seriously, who does that with a single Reeses? Me apparently.

I know I was craving this, but having a oh-so-fearful treat such as this so early in the day was very difficult for me to handle. So I had half… better than nothing if you ask me! I had the other half later on that day, so why not just eat it all at once? Don’t know the answer to that, I have no idea how my brain justifies things sometimes.

I had a break during the day and decided to have lunch back in my room, I had the ingredients to do so, and this was a chance to once again satisfy my cravings! As I told you before, I did a pretty intense circuit/ST workout earlier that morning, so getting in the protein is important on days like that. How could I fulfill this need, respect what my body will benefit from and also have something that I want to, rather than feel obligated to?

Tuna Salad time,

Sorry, crappy iPhone picture

In the bowl: canned tuna, a good-sized blob of 2% plain Chobani, slivered almonds, and various cut up vegetables (red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and celery- all sniped from the DC! muahaha) I also had enjoyed a nice fresh and juicy orange on the side.

I felt pleasantly satisfied after this meal and had a good mix of hearty and healthy ingredients to represent the various nutrients. Sometimes after meals, especially lunch and dinner (I talked about this last week) I am on the hunt for something else IMMEDIATELY after. I am sure there are various reasons for this, but one identifiable one is that if I am eating something other than what my body is craving, well of course I will be searching for more food.

A few hours later when I was hungry again, this was a time that perhaps entirely listening to my cravings was not the best idea. I had not had enough carbohydrates (for me) at this point in the day, and eating a whole grain/carb something was a favorable idea. I am often lacking energy at this point in the day, and while it does have to do with my anemia, my carb intake is less than efficient at times and this most likely plays a role.

Now, I do want to “listen” to what I desire, but also what I need! This particular energy bar did the trick,

Great nutrition facts, plus the flavor on this bar was really enjoyable- nice and sweet and love cinnamon anything. Plus there was a good amount of protein to help keep the muscle repair going and satiation levels in mind.

End of the day… I am both physically and mentally tired… not overly so by any means. With my attitude in mind, and also while keeping the goal in mind to “listening” to my food desires, what is it that I want for dinner? Oh my I just remembered something fantastic, I have a gift card to Whole Foods, only 10 bucks, but hey, it’s something!

A trip to WF never ceases to make me feel better as it provides a bit of an “escape.” On that note, I am pretty sure this whole concept does have to do with my eating disorder. I go to WF with the intention to walk around the store, look at the new and odd products, not really buy anything, but plan foods I might one day have. It’s not like it used to be where I would go and not eat a darn thing…. I do eat there now and enjoy it.

At the same time though, is a trip to this store making TESSA feel better or the disorder? Not sure and it’s completely possible that I am over thinking this WAY too much.

Anyway, this is what I chose for dinner from the hot food bar,

Sweet potato Shepard’s pie! In the “pie,” mashed sweet potatoes in some butter (scary-ness for sure), peas, mushrooms, corn, and barley… with some other kinds of tasty seasonings and flavors thrown in there.

Wow does that look completely disgusting, but I will tell you something, it was one of the very best items I have ever purchased from a Whole Foods. Yes, that is saying a whole lot! It took me a while to decide on this, as I was paying attention to my cravings while looking around at the different options. Sweet potatoes are among my most favorite foods, it’s healthy (which I do like and is okay too!), it’s nice and warm, and it’s unique to me.

I trusted myself and was pleased with the decision.

On the way home, I just happened to pass by a fro-yo place and oddly enough my car pulled into the lot, and magically this appeared in my hand:

Yes I realize that whole shpeel was pretty obnoxious :) But yes, on the drive home I knew I wanted something sweet to end the day, as usual, and figured Go Berry would be a great place to stop, especially because they were had NUTELLA and strawberry for flavors… tasty.

So the frozen yogurt thing might seem like an odd “fear” as it’s completely healthy, and I decided on topping it with blueberries and kiwi as opposed to something well.. not-so-healthy. To me this is such a “dessert” and that giving-in/weakness feeling rears its ugly head here. But OH FLIPPEN WELL, I pushed through the negativity and ordered me some froyo.

Afterward I actually regretted not getting chocolate chips or some other candy on top… yes I satisfied the desire for something sweet, but not fully, as I was still on the hunt for another taste of, well anything, I wanted more food. I did satisfy this craving with a few M&Ms when I returned to my room, but that did not need to happen if I had simply “listened” when I should have.

In addition to that, I felt a semi-compulsive need to keep on going even after the M&Ms! Perhaps this was my body telling me it needed more food, but I believe it had more to do with even the minor restriction that I had done, giving me an increased urge to keep on stuffing food down my throat…

Yes I made a mistake in this, but of course, we all learn from out mistakes… and this is just another one of those times!

Overall, I feel the day went pretty well with really LISTENING to what I had a hankerin for. Again, this is all part of recovery- learning and understanding how to eat normally again, without the obsession, guilt, out-of-control cravings, anxiety…. All of these emotions and feelings will go away eventually, if I just keep working on it.

As always, easier said than done, but I am in the fight for my life here, and yeah, it’s going to take a whole lot of effort with extreme discomfort. I.must.always.remember.this!

I would love to hear from you,

-How “good” are you at listening to your cravings, desires, and specific wants for foods?

-Do you ever crave things at the “wrong” time of the day? If so, why do you deem foods “wrong” at certain times? For me it was that Reeses candy… it’s a fear food anyway and so early on in the day?! Very mentally difficult for me.

Do you find that if/when you LISTEN, your urges do actually diminish?

-Is it just me or are the holiday themed-candies even tastier than the regular?! Oh em gee that PB Egg :)

-What is the best dish/item you have eaten in the past week?! Any new recipe? Please share!

Have a most fabulous rest of your day! :D


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