Good morning on this lovely Wednesday, where I am linking up with Peas and Crayons again, as well as The Big Man’s World, to share a day’s worth of food with you. Honestly, I debated whether or not to share today’s post because yesterday was a pretty tough day with my eating disorder. I wanted yesterday to be a success so that I could proudly share with you all, but I felt much more of a failure than a success when the day was finished. Life is not only success and failure, however. It is 99.9% made up of the gray area between those two extremes. So, although yesterday was not perfect, it was not a failure either. It was just one day of many in recovery, filled with peaks and valleys.
Did you ever read the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a kid (or adult)? If not, you should track down a copy because it is colorful and adorable. As it turns out, it teaches a pretty darn good lesson, too. The book’s premise is that there is a caterpillar who finds himself extremely hungry one day. He eats and eats, but he is still hungry. Yesterday, I spent a good deal of the day feeling like said caterpillar. I started my day with oatmeal, the breakfast of champions as far as I am concerned. I didn’t feel like having coffee right away, so I just had a good bit of water with my breakfast instead.
Breakfast held me over for a while, but I found myself hungry again not too long after getting to work. I ate a homemade bran muffin with my morning cup of coffee, and it was a nice little snack.
Although the muffin was good, it was too little of a snack, as it turned out. Not much later, I was hungry again. My coworker was eating a blackberry cardamom danish and offered me a piece, so I took a small sliver. My brain thought of ways that I could cut calories later, but I attempted to push them out and enjoy the piece of danish that had been offered to me, which was damn tasty.
A while before my lunch break, I was getting hungry once again and didn’t want to go into my lunch break absolutely ravenous. There were some sesame rice chips in the back at work, and I ate one or two to help tide me over. I thought some more about how I could cut calories to make up for the two chips I was eating, perhaps by not eating all that I packed for lunch. Eating disorders are incredibly skilled at sneaking into your mind and convincing you that something is a great idea when it is, in fact, a terrible one. I recognized the disorder’s stealth maneuvers, told myself that I would not restrict my lunch because of two chips, and moved on.
For my actual lunch, I ate a tuna sandwich, some barbecue Popchips, a container of yogurt, and a carrot with homemade hummus. I have been pretty into tuna sandwiches lately, and this one did not disappoint. I added a little coleslaw mix to the tuna because we happened to have some in the refrigerator, and it contributed a nice textural component.
Later on in the afternoon, I was getting hungry again and still had a while before the end of my shift. I ate an incredible orange and a dark chocolate coconut milk caramel while I finished up at work.
After work, I had some grocery shopping to do. I wouldn’t be home for a while, and I was starting to get hungry, so I ate an apple on my way to the store.
Once I returned from grocery shopping, I did some things around the house and ate a bowl of yogurt with cereal and a drizzle of peanut butter. I was able to enjoy my snack outside in the sun, which was wonderful. After a few minutes of sitting with the sun on my face, I concluded that I was still pretty hungry after my snack, so I ate a little more yogurt. I did not feel good about myself by doing so. I was reprimanded by my disordered thoughts by eating more yogurt, as silly as that sounds. Fortunately, my healthy self knew that hunger was not the right choice, no matter how much its comfort beckoned to me.
For dinner, my mom and I went out to a relatively new Mexican restaurant that neither of us had tried before. I ordered chicken enchiladas, and they were fabulous. My disordered thoughts were pretty active, though, and I did not eat nearly enough. Very shortly after dinner, I was still hungry and I toyed with the idea of distracting myself all evening and going to bed hungry, or perhaps just having a small snack and then cutting myself off. To somebody who has not struggled with a restrictive eating disorder, this makes little sense. To somebody like me, however, hunger is comfortable even through its unpleasantness. And, as much as I hate to admit it this far into recovery, I am sometimes still more comfortable being hungry than I am confronting my disorder.
After baking some desserts to take into work and taking a long bath, I did a little journaling and brought myself back to reality. I reminded myself that the comfort of hunger is not a substitute for the joy of real life. Although I could look back on my day and find temporary solace in my hungry state, it had been a downright shitty day. When I feel uncertain about myself because I think that I am being “too hungry,” hunger is still a coping mechanism that I turn to. It provides verification of acceptability when I am unable to accept myself. But days like yesterday remind me of why an eating disorder is such a hollow comfort. It may provide temporary anxiety relief because of how the brain has been conditioned, but it is not the key to sustainable happiness, nor will it ever be.
After journaling for a while, I snacked on a little bowl of some cereal and dried cranberries. Before bed, I bucked up and ate an english muffin with peanut butter because my healthy self knew that the answer to hunger is not more hunger, but food.
If you’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you know how it ends. If you haven’t, spoiler alert: the caterpillar is very hungry because he is getting prepared to go into his cocoon and turn into a butterfly. Yesterday reminded me of just how much trust we have to place in our bodies when we choose to enter recovery and feed ourselves, because we have no way of knowing what our bodies are attempting to accomplish behind the scenes.
Perhaps we are getting sick and our body is requiring more calories to build immunity. Perhaps we are close to having our monthly cycle and our body is having to burn extra calories to carry out the process. Perhaps our bodies are preparing to turn us into something more beautiful than we could have imagined. We can guess as long as we want to, but we have no way of knowing. The only goal of our body is to care for itself, and we need to trust that it will do so if we give it the fuel that it needs.
That’s it for this week’s What I Ate Wednesday post! I hope your week is going well so far, and you have been able to give your body and mind the care that they deserve.