My Eating Disorder Journey
I am in the middle stages of my food journey, so things are still in progress, but I thought that sharing may help someone feel less alone. For me, food has always been complicated. It wasn’t until 7th grade that I started to learn about nutrition and how important it is. By that time though, I was already deep into some unhealthy eating habits. I used food as a way to feel in control which lead to skipping meals or not eating at all, and then binging on snack food or pasta. I ate so few calories during 8th grade that my periods stopped completely, which I did not know was due to lack of nutrients until high school. I kept going with my pattern of skipping meals and then overeating until about my early twenties. It was around 24 or 25 that I had a health scare that woke me up a little to the fact I was damaging my body with my disordered eating. That was when I started learning about eating disorders and working my way through how I had gotten to where I was.
Like I said in the beginning I am still very much on this journey, I have not healed all the wounds and I still deal with disordered eating.
When I started working out through Beachbody, I knew that I would need to work on my eating habits and change how I think about food, but I also knew that with my adjustment disorder trying to do everything all at once would derail the entire process. So, as mentioned in the other post I decided to start with making working out a habit and then move on to nutrition. I stepped into the nutrition process fully around June of this year (2020). My first task was to start a food journal so that I could see how I was eating and start to take responsibility for my choices.
I decided to start by making eating lunch everyday a habit, I used to skip a real meal and eat snacks until dinner. My lunches were a combo of frozen meals and random vegetables with lunchmeat, not exactly the healthiest but, I had to start somewhere. After the 4th of July I started to notice a small weight gain, instead of a loss and I started to get really discouraged. I realized that while eating lunch was a good habit, my late-night snacking was holding me back. I started working on reducing my snacking and changing what I snack on after dinner. Around 9 pm I start to crave sweets, which I used to indulge without thinking. This is around the time I decided to take my food journal seriously, before I would log my food, but I wouldn’t pay attention to my overall habits. At this point I added a weekly check in to my food log so that I could reflect on how the week went, and how my emotional state affected my eating habits.
At the end of summer 2020 I went to the doctor for a physical and ended up getting some not so good news. Turns out I am Pre-Diabetic, ugh. It hit me really hard, I even got a little obstinate. I refused to look at how my eating habits, stress level, lack of movement, and negative mindset was impacting my overall health. I wanted this journey to have less dire consequences, to be a choice I made, probably so I could quit if it got hard and call it good, but that diagnosis made it less of a choice. I had to do some serious processing of emotions to get to the point where I decided to take control.
I decided that it is my choice after all. I could choose to not take it seriously and half ass my nutrition potentially ending up with diabetes, or I could look at it as a rebirth and choose to push myself to honoring my body and work to keep it healthy. My dad would always tell me that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right, and that the best things in life come with hard work. I always attributed those to working a job or school but never to how I take care of myself. It hit me like a ton of bricks, that if I want my body to keep working for me, I had to work for it.
After I worked through my immediate emotions around the diagnosis I dug into my workouts and my habit journaling, with the goal to get my A1C to a healthy level. I knew I would rather make sacrifices now at 31, than doing it at 40 or 50. Currently I am working on meal prepping my lunches to keep from skipping it for an easy to grab snack and I drink my superfoods from Beachbody everyday with my lunch to help keep me full until dinner. I use Pinterest to find skillet or casserole ideas that are low carb and full of veggies. When I find one I love I post it here for you guys to enjoy, sharing is caring after all! I still snack of course, but I do my best to snack on healthier options. I have recently discovered my love for chickpea snacks, especially Ranch flavored, and the company Off the Eaten Path, that makes healthier versions of snacks I love.
I do want to mention that I have days where I get too in my head about food, which can set me back a lot. For me, if I have negative thoughts about the food I’m eating or going to eat it will make me nauseous and I won’t be able to physically eat it. It is a really hard thing to deal with. I can also get so caught up in a project that I don’t eat for so long that the thought of food makes me feel sick. When I find myself in one of these mindsets, I do my best to give myself some grace and not talk badly to myself. I try to convince my brain to eat, sometimes that means eating something comforting that isn’t healthy, but in those moments I try to tell myself that food is better than no food. Eating habits and nutrition aren’t as black and white as people want it to be, and I hope we can all start to talk more openly about the struggles we have so we can help each other.
Change is hard, it happens incrementally which can be difficult to notice but if we stick to it and refuse to give up, we can look back and see how far we have come. Give yourself some grace and take it one day at a time.