Sunday, November 8, 2009

Heading into week 2

Eating "so much fucking food" has gotten easier over the past week. I was incredulous--as in, I literally did not believe it--when my nutritionist said that she thought my binges were provoked in part by hunger. But already I am seeing that she was right. Certainly hunger is not the entirety of it, but it's a much larger chunk than I was able to see, in part because I WAS HUNGRY AND WASN'T THINKING CLEARLY.

I mean, I was just as likely to binge after a full meal as I was after a skimpy one. I don't think I'm triggered to binge by hunger or by a big meal; it's more complex than that. Days of not eating enough cloud one's judgment, making one more prone to not-great choices where the primary focus on one's mind--food--is concerned. (Note that the people in the oft-quoted study that re-created dietary conditions of concentration camp victims--the one that showed that they all became seriously preoccupied with thoughts of food--were given food. They just weren't given enough.) So when I'd finally get proper nourishment, instead of feeling sated, I felt somehow wronged for what I hadn't been eating--like I wanted to go on a roll, but not with healthy food. When full portions are denied, they become the forbidden. I'd heard plenty that denying yourself one food was the surest way to make sure you'd eat in in the future. And I've only rarely denied myself any particular food; I'd just deny myself enough food in general. So food in general would become my preoccupation.

At some point I hope to be more focused in this blog. For now, I'm just sort of putting my thoughts out there.

I didn't follow my meal plan this weekend as closely as I'd planned to. I decided to make pancakes on Saturday, which required a trip to the store, and then it took a long time to actually make them. More than two hours passed between waking and eating; that's too long. I was ravenous and exhausted by the time I ate (I did eat an apple, but it wasn't enough). Not eating until noon threw me off for the whole day. I got in all my portions, but questioned myself more on Saturday and Sunday than I had the rest of the week. My weektime meals tend to be pretty structured--I welcome the variety that a meal plan steers me toward, but a structure is just easier to follow. So instead of "follow meal plan," I think my goal for this week should be to "plan meals." I was telling myself I shouldn't over-plan because that's not "normal." But the fact is, I'm not a normal eater yet, and won't be for a while. Years from now, I hope to not have to plan out every meal. But for now, I need to.

That's actually a recurring theme--two, really--normality, and patience.

1) Normality: NOBODY IS FUCKING NORMAL ABOUT FOOD. I hung out with a friend on Friday night, someone I consider "normal" about food. At one point she said that a coworker brought in a bag of candy corn specifically for my friend, because the coworker knew that my friend loves candy corn. Which she does. But it was Halloween last week, so my friend had had her fill of Halloween candy and didn't want any more. In order to not hurt her coworker's feelings, she put the candy corn in a bowl between their desks, and my friend makes a show of grabbing some whenever she walks by. She then throws it away.

Now, this is "normal" in the sense that she recognizes the emotional connection to food (her coworker doing something nice for her), and "normal" in the sense that she's not eating more sweets than she would like to consume (she had had enough candy for the week and didn't want to have more). So this behavior is normal, because she's a normal eater. But it's also weird! It's just weird! Weird in general that anyone would have to put a show into taking candy corn. I get why she did it, and obviously it's not disordered eating. But for me, it would be. My boyfriend will throw a fit if there's mayo on his sandwich. That's not normal. He's totally normal about food, but not in that way. Nobody is fucking normal.

2) Patience. I don't consider myself a patient person. I'm not necessarily impatient, but during my time in therapy I would repeatedly get frustrated by how much time it took for something to sink in. Like, I'd intellectually recognize that X was a problem for me as a kid, which makes me do Y now. I'd get that. But I'd still keep doing Y. I couldn't understand why an intellectual understanding of it wouldn't just make it poof go bye-bye.

I'm glad I met with a nutritionist before jumping into the program. Because that showed me that I really don't even have an intellectual understanding of eating disorders, or at least of mine. I had no idea I was restricting to the extent that I was. I was utterly blind to that. I saw quickly and dramatically how I had to just sort of close my eyes and put myself into the hands of this program--that is, I have to do the work. And I have to put my own individual effort into it, and it has to be real effort. It will work. I don't know exactly in what ways it will work; I have no idea, realistically, how I will be in five years. But it will work in the sense that I trust that my life will be more livable because of this program. I have to do the faith fall. That means following all the rules and listening to myself while doing so. That means not brushing off my reactions as overblown or inauthentic; that means not creating food issues for myself where there are none. That means not looking at raw food diets; that means not entering my intake into calorie calculators. That means using my food diary. That means planning for meals, and planning for weekends, and not spacing out in group. That means effort, and I will do it.

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