Sunday May 29
Recovery for me isn’t necessarily about gain, although I know that is what needs to happen. Recovery for me is about gaining life back, I guess with the end product of gaining weight. Recovery is about learning that food freedom overrules any feeling of restriction and food rules. Recovery is about realising that food is not everything and it does not control your life.
Today I ate cake at half-ten in the morning as we were celebrating a friend’s birthday. I had eaten breakfast an hour before and I wasn’t hungry. But I wanted to celebrate and have fun with my friends. For the first time, guilt didn’t pop up straight away. I don’t really enjoy eating cake (I just don’t like the taste, especially chocolate cake), but I am in the process of challenging my ED and ED thoughts every day by doing something different each day. On Friday I ate no vegetables and had no salad. I had nachos for lunch and a ready-meal (or “prick-and-ping” as my family calls them) for dinner. I hate ready meals, again for the flavour, but that was what my mum had bought for dinner and that was the challenge of the day. With lots of carbs too. And I followed it with a bowl of dairy ice cream with toppings (dairy ice cream has been a big challenge for me recently too). The idea of having an “unhealthy day” used to scare me. Now I correlate an “unhealthy day” with a fun day – a day full of memories and friends and pure enjoyment. Those “unnecessary calories” and snacks are what makes a day fun and those aren’t the things that will define how fun a day was in twenty years times. Or the opposite, and you’ll rave about how good that pizza was or how cheesy that toastie was and reminisce that with your friends in the future.
Food freedom and recovery is about challenging your ED each day, eliminating food rules for good. I understand how hard this may get as we head into summer and have lots of plans and trips away with friends. The holidays I have booked and the meals out that I’ve planned with my friends is already making me anxious. In order to combat this anxiety, I’m learning to accept that these times away are times spent with friends and family, making new memories and having fun and enjoying myself, ignoring the idea of food. I know that I probably won’t be able to exercise or eat super healthy every day of summer. The fact that I am starting to accept that now makes me more and more excited for these holidays, as I know that I can actually enjoy them without fear of guilt and self-deprecating thoughts that once filled my head. I am now excited for the lazy days in the sun and the days where I eat so many nachos and bread and ice cream and pizza and pasta with my friends on holiday and drink so many cocktails and shots and not care.
Weight gain is not even the hardest part of recovery for me anymore. I know that in this process I will gain weight, and I don’t really care. That shows so much growth for me. The fact that I am excited to eat so much crap and drink so many sugary cocktails that once were thought of as “unnecessary” and “bad foods” shows this also. The hardest part of recovery is learning this and accepting it and applying it. The hardest part is challenging your ED each day, but it’s also a fun part. You can eat kind of what you want (if you opt for the “all-in” recovery approach) and let yourself indulge in the things that you once thought were a crime.
Today, challenge yourself. I have – even though I didn’t really “enjoy that cake” – and I enjoyed the time spent with my friends and was proud of myself for doing that. I will still go on to eat lunch and dinner later – guilt and restriction has no room in my life now. Drink that hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows, or, as it’s now warmer weather, indulge in an ice cream (or two) at a random time in the day and still go on to eat dinner/lunch. Challenge yourself, whether you have an ED or not. Challenge and reject this idea of diet culture – there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Consume what you crave and enjoy it, removing all feelings of guilt and anxiety. Do it for yourself and no one else to heal this relationship between yourself and food and your body.