Good morning! I managed to claw my way out of the mounds of snow that mother nature dumped on us over the last two days, and things are back to normal around here. After two days off of work, however, I’m not sure how I feel about going back. Lying around and watching Law & Order: SVU seems much more appealing. Despite my protests, I will be returning to work today, but not before linking up with Peas and Crayons to share a day’s worth of food with you! This post ended up being kind of a doozy, so you might want to settle in for a while or wait to read it until you’re in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or getting your oil changed or something.
I have been quite hungry over the past couple of days. I can’t know why for sure, but I suspect the seemingly endless, back-breaking amount of snow shoveling that I have endured over the last 48 hours or so. For me, an increase in hunger often means an increase in restricting behavior. One of the hardest obstacles for me has been breaking out of the weight-loss mentality, where you can never burn too many calories or eat too little. Because of this ingrained mentality and pattern of behavior, when I am hungrier than usual because of increased activity, a cold, or any other factor, it can be difficult for me to respond adequately with energy in the form of food.
I write this little introduction before showing you my meals yesterday because I want to preface this post by saying that yesterday was not a perfect day of eating for me. On second thought, there’s no such thing as a perfect day of eating, but yesterday was especially difficult. I was hungry, and I know that the anxiety of hunger and my conditioning to restrict food and burn calories had an impact on me. That being said, I tried my best to push through the guilt and anxiety of eating and choose to adequately feed my body rather than buy into the diet mentality that could have cost me my life.
Yesterday started out normally. I was able to get a good night’s sleep, and I was ready for breakfast when I woke up. I fed my needy cats and cooked up a perfect bowl of oatmeal, which I consumed with my first cup of coffee. I almost always love my oatmeal breakfast, but yesterday’s was especially good, if I do say so myself.
After breakfast, I headed to the gym to exercise, which may have been a poor decision. With all of the snow wrangling, I have definitely been getting a fair share of exercise lately. It’s not that I didn’t want to do more exercise, but I knew that I was taking a risk by working out on top of my increased activity level. At the time, I told myself that I would eat more later if I was hungrier, and that I would be able to easily accomplish that task. However, as often happens, I let myself down a bit. When I was hungrier throughout the day, I genuinely struggled against the guilt and anxiety accompanying eating rather than listening to and trusting my body implicitly.
When I was finished exercising, I was definitely hungry. I found some blueberry muffins that I made approximately one year ago in the freezer, and decided to see if they were still good. To my delight, they were! To push myself a little bit in the realm of calories, I added a couple of chocolate chips to each half of the muffin, which I enjoyed with another cup of coffee.
After puttering around the house for a while and getting ready for the day, I was hungry for lunch. I made a sandwich with turkey, avocado, tomato, peppers, and onions, which was fantastic. I ate the sandwich with carrots, hummus, and salsa as well as a little bowl of PopChips. On a side note, my panini press is probably my favorite appliance.
I felt somewhat satisfied after lunch, although perhaps a bit hungry still. I had plans with a friend, however, and I headed over to her house and visited her and her adorable two-year-old for a substantial chunk of the afternoon. When I got home from my friend’s house, I was hungry yet again. I made a little snack consisting of an apple, some roasted almonds, and a peanut butter truffle. I was pretty damn hungry, and I had a feeling that this snack was not going to tide me over until dinner but I decided to chance it anyway. In retrospect, I should have eaten more and moved on, but my tendency to hold off on eating won out.
After my snack, I headed out to run a few errands. I did boring adult things like taking out the recycling, going to the bank, and buying a shelf. While I was running errands, I knew that I was still hungry. My stomach was rumbling, I felt lethargic, and I was having a hard time thinking. As a ‘fuck you’ to the eating disorder that has kept me hungry so many times, I ate a couple of Hershey’s Kisses before I got home. Once I was home, I was tempted to start assembling the shelf I had purchased, using the activity to distract from hunger. That is not what I chose to do, however. Instead, I responded to my body’s needs by eating some Chocolate Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats with plain yogurt and a pinch of cocoa powder. Note the plate under the bowl, which I made in my college ceramics class. Four years later and it’s still goin’ strong!
For somebody who tends to struggle with home improvement tasks, the shelf assembly went fairly well. I’m still waiting to hear a deafening crash from the other room to indicate otherwise, but so far, so good! When I was finished with the shelf, I did a short yoga video focused on evening relaxation. I was rather hungry for dinner when I finished the video, and I prepared something to eat.
I wanted to challenge myself with food for dinner, as evenings are often the time that I most veer toward ‘safe’ foods and engage in bizarre, disordered rules about when and what I can eat. I have been stuck in a rut of stir-fry lately and, although it’s delicious, I am very aware that I cling to it as a ‘safe’ recipe. I have not made pasta for myself in a while and a warm bowl of saucy goodness sounded perfect, so that’s exactly what I made. I added some cream cheese to the sauce, an experiment worth repeating. I ate my pasta with a salad, which was nothing special but still good. I took my time eating, trying to listen to my body as honestly as I could. When I had finished my food, I knew that there was still an edge of hunger present. Initially, I was very tempted to ignore the hunger and find ways to distract myself, as I often do. I know where this decision leads, however. It leads to more hunger, more restriction, and the perpetuation of a vicious, painful cycle. I ate a few roasted nuts and took a bath to relax.
Dinner was enough to satisfy me for most of the evening, but given how hungry I had been throughout the day, it’s no surprise that I was hungry again before bed. To satisfy said hunger, I ate a few more pieces of cereal as well as some toast before bed.
I am continually reminded that responding to hunger is scary. For me, it is the scariest part of recovery. It means trusting my body to know what it needs and know how to ask for it, and that is something that terrifies me beyond words. It is something that I have never done before, but I know that I will never be able to trust my body if I don’t practice doing so, and there are many chances to practice each and every day.
Days like this remind me of how hard it is to live a normal life with an eating disorder. It is nearly impossible, in fact, which is an excellent reason to push for full recovery. If I want to live a life where I can shovel snow without spending the rest of the day starving, I need to choose recovery by eating enough to support such activities. If I want to live a life where I can eat enough at a meal to genuinely engage with a friend afterward, I need to choose recovery by eating until I am truly satisfied. If I want to be able to go to the gym on my day off, I need to choose recovery by eating enough before and after my workout. Hunger is not something to be earned. It is not something that deserves guilt. It is not a sign of validation. It is a basic human need. It signals us to eat enough food so that we can live lives worth living.
Yesterday made me look recovery right in the eyes. It made me ask myself how badly I want to recover again and again. It made me ask myself if I want recovery badly enough to fight through the guilt that I still feel about feeding my body. It’s frightening, and it is hard work, but hell yes, I do.