What I Ate Wednesday 4/8/15: Sometimes Awareness Sucks

Good morning! On this lovely Wednesday, I’m linking up with Peas and Crayons and The Big Man’s World to share a day’s worth of food with you once again. I try to have some kind of theme to go along with my WIAW posts, and the first thing that came to mind this week was self-awareness.

Yesterday, my coworker and I were talking about how challenging it can be to be self-aware, which made me think about the fact that I walked through most of my life with very little self-awareness. If I was angry or sad, I did not bother to investigate why. More often than not, I blamed my emotions on the people in my life rather than turning inward. In some ways, this was an easier way to live. I did not have to think about the ways that I was acting out of pain or anger, but I was not able to be fully happy, either. Now that I am able to more easily analyze my feelings and behaviors, I am forced to look honestly at the why behind these things, and that can be exhausting. As my coworker and I chatted about how difficult it can be to practice self-awareness, she suggested we develop a bumper sticker that says, “Ignorance is bliss…and awareness sucks.” We laughed about the idea, but there is some truth behind it. Although being unaware of what is going on in and around us leads to destructive behaviors in the long run, awareness can cause much more distress in the present.

I began my day yesterday with a lovely bowl of oatmeal, as always. I was able to sleep in because I worked the closing shift, so I got a later start than usual. After breakfast, I went for a walk to my favorite coffee shop and got a cup of coffee before heading home to get ready for work.

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On my drive to work, I started to get hungry, and I knew that my lunch break would not come for some time. At this point in recovery, I know that skipping a morning snack is usually a terrible idea that leads to further restriction, so I ate half of this Kashi granola bar. On a side note, please disregard the layer of dust in my car.

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Once I got to work, things were sort of crazy. My lunch ended up being even later than I expected and I was extremely hungry by the time I was able to sit down to eat. Of course, I could have eaten the other half of my granola bar before lunch, but my level of hunger by lunchtime led to a bit of restriction, as it sometimes does. For lunch, I ate some leftover pulled pork and baked beans on half of a bun. I also had yogurt with sliced strawberries added to it, as well as carrot sticks with hummus and salsa.

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After my lunch, I was still hungry. At this point, I was aware of the fact that I had allowed my level of hunger to scare me into restricting earlier, so I finished my granola bar. A bit later, I also had this piece of chocolate with my afternoon cup of coffee.

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An hour or two later, I was getting hungry once again and I shared an orange and some nuts with my coworker. I was still struggling with restrictive tendencies, but I ate the snack and moved on.

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As I got ready to begin closing at work, I was feeling lightheaded and hungry again. My hunger level briefly led to an episode of calorie counting, a coping mechanism that ruled my life in the past. As I started to revert to this old, disordered behavior, I called into mind how miserable calorie counting makes me and I stopped trying to calculate whether I was “allowed” to eat more food or not. Rather than push through the evening in a hunger fog, I ate a Luna bar and a few more almonds so that I could think clearly and focus on my work.

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When I got home from work, I was hungry for dinner, and it’s times like these that awareness sucks. My disordered tendency, the one that I knew would provide me an immediate sense of calm, was to delay my dinner or only eat a small amount. But I have the awareness to know that the immediate calm of that choice is short-lived, and I have to look at why I am doing what I am doing. If I know that I am restricting food and I know that I am doing it because I am still afraid of feeding my body adequately, it makes it much harder to do turn to it as a coping mechanism. Rather than run to the false security of hunger and calorie counting, awareness forced me to face my motivations head-on.

After a bit of time spent trying to revert to distraction, I decided that enough was enough. I heated up leftover pizza and ate it with green beans and a salad. After dinner, I had a short FaceTime conversation with a friend of mine, made birthday treats to take into work, and got ready for bed.

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By the time I was preparing to go to sleep, I was definitely hungry once more. Restriction often begets restriction, and I knew that if I skipped a snack before bed out of a place of anxiety I would only wake up hungrier, with more of an anxiety-provoking situation on my hands rather than less. I had a few chocolate chips and an english muffin with peanut butter, did some deep breathing, and called it a night.

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In many ways, it is easier to live in ignorance than embrace awareness. There are often times that I find hunger easier than eating and exercising easier than rest. But, although these things may be the easier solution in the moment, they are not what will lead to a fulfilling life. Yes, awareness sometimes sucks. It can be exhausting to constantly be analyzing our feelings and actions. It makes us look at why we are doing things and confront the hard stuff in our lives that we have worked so hard to push away. Ultimately, though, awareness is what will lead to a sustainable recovery and it is worth embracing despite the challenges. Ignorance may be temporarily blissful, but awareness is what has led me to a place of health and strength.

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7 thoughts on “What I Ate Wednesday 4/8/15: Sometimes Awareness Sucks

  1. Your insight is always so wise and relatable! I definitely need to work on some self-awareness… Your food looks so good! That Luna bar and the Kashi bars are some of my favorite bars 🙂

  2. I agree that awareness is important, but overanalyzing every decision is very harmful. It leads to rumination and makes simple tasks much more difficult. Sometimes thirst can be disguised by hunger and thinking too much about that could lead to the same restrictive or overeating feelings. Just a thought I had.

    • I agree that rumination isn’t helpful, but when it comes to self destructive habits I think it is good to have the awareness of our motivations. And the thirst disguised as hunger thing does not apply in quite the same way when in recovery from a restrictive eating disorder, as sufferers often try to mask genuine hunger by drinking water excessively. But I get what you’re saying.

  3. “Ignorance is bliss…and awareness sucks.”

    Love that quote…if only it was reality! I think you’ve done an admirable job in overcoming the negative thoughts- The more you silence ‘the voice’ the easier it becomes! I’m envious of those coffees!

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