Sunday, May 24, 2009

What's the Right Amount

okay, i'm kind of lost. i have no idea how much emphasis to put on food. should I have three pre-thought out meals a day? or pay attention to everything i put in my mouth? or be like all (the mostly-thin) foodies on tv and really be "in to" food? (just an aside, gail on Top Chef seems to be the only female foodie with a real body, particularly for someone who eats for a living. i think she looks great -- always smiling and self-assured. that's what i'm looking for -- my own real body and some joy.)

but like i said, i have no idea what or how to eat.

i'm getting more comfortable with myself. i weigh well into the 130s (a really shocking thing for me), and my weight continues to crawl up. i'm kind of interested to see where it goes on its own. i can't believe -- i'm not making myself crazy.

i put on one of my cute new dresses, and i'm off. i've been getting a lot of compliments lately, which is another shock (particularly at this weight!) maybe it is time to re-think what weight i think looks good on me.

but how to eat? usually, after gaining weight, i'd put myself right back on the old food plan -- a mini-muffin for breakfast, 1/2 slice pizza and small salad for lunch, a turkey sandwich with mustard and salad for dinner, followed by a weight watchers pop. and much wine.

(yay, i'm still sober and doing well!)

should i focus on eating when i'm hungry and stopping when i'm full? should i only eat what i REALLY want? should i make more of food and focus on delicious meals? (that last one still sounds scarey.)

pre-planning meals and sticking to them sounds kind of relaxing but also constricting. i'd like to put food in an easier, more relaxed place but I have no experience in this. i've been using weird diets and binging and purging for so long, i have no idea what to eat to just to "be".

i had a good moment tonight. my boyfriend and i nibbled all day. after a late sunday afternoon drive, we headed to the supermarket to buy dinner. by the time we got home, it was nearly nine. he was going to start the barbecue, i was going to figure out some sides.

it started to make me unhappy. i wasn't hungry. i didn't want to spend time preparing a meal (knowing me, nibbling along the way angrily and worriedly, knowing i wasn't really hungry) and then sitting down to a meal only my mouth wanted.

in the car, i (bravely, for me) said to my boyfriend, "how would you feel if we just did our own thing with dinner tonight? you take care of what you want, and i think i'll just have salad?"

"sounds good", he said.

i exhaled. why am i so afraid to just say what i need? rather than NOT saying what i need, getting confused and angry and resentful and wanting wine or food to stuff down all those feelings.

wow, it's so cool to be heard. he also suggested i go blog and do whatever i want. i've never loved him more.

during our ride, i also told my boyfriend that i REALLY need to stay away from places where the purpose of the whole event is basically to drink, have a few drinks, or get drunk. it's fine if he has a beer a night (which he doesn't often) or sip a little scotch before he goes to sleep (which he does only when his back pain is keeping him up.)

but when we go to neighbor's, where everyone's there to blow off some steam after a long week and down beers, it's not good for me. it might be okay in the moment, but later it starts to sink into my brain that it's okay to drink.

i've never been so specific with my boyfriend. other times, i think i didn't take better care of myself around drinking events, because i was leaving the door open to drink again. i want to close that door. and keep it shut.

i went to an open house for graduate school Thursday night. it's a lot of work. i couldn't finish that degree if i were drinking. by 8 pm, i'd be deep in the wine and homework and papers would be long forgotten.

but back to eating. what shall i do as i've given myself some poundage latitude? my new dresses are cute AND forgiving (whatever THAT means. my brain is so programmed for "thin"!)

time to get on with my life. communicate with my boyfriend. watch my spending and plan better for the future. go back to school and get a masters. and more.

but what to eat?


  1. I don't know if my advice would be helpful, since Im in the midst of marking my food boundaries myself. Since I know I have binge/purge tendensies, and have been able to recognize new trigger food (even the "healthy" version of the food;like soy ice cream instead of regular, cause I don't do dairy)

    My ED definately used the gluten/dairy free junk foods to its advantage, creating tons of self sabatoge I never really saw I was doing to myself until now. (My ED voice says, "Well no, that's not fair, you should be able to have ice cream like 'normal' people, and look they make dairy free! It must be better for you, and it won't trigger you...I promise. *I eat the whole pint in a sitting and curse myself*)

    The second relapse came around slowly through this way, even though I did not purge I used food as a way to cope with emotions I chose to ignore. There always needs to be a check in with yourself, and when you have those urges to say, Hey, I'm just having a salad, you can have what you want-that feeling there is major relief and a sense of content with yourself, which is great. Same as with alcohol, knowing what surroundings/people are not helpful to your recovery, and seeing the bigger picture of that having alcohol will only lead you back to misery.

    I'm proud of you:)

  2. Congrats on the sobriety!! As far as eating, I think it's a big mystery for those of us who have dictated, rather than listened, to our bodies for years. I really liked the book "Making Peace with Food." It's a workbook, so it's pretty cool. "The Tao of Eating" is also good. They're both about learning to trust yourself again. It takes a while. Go easy on yourself. If you think you need thought-out meals, try that. I don't think there's any right way. You can feel out different things. I think your attitude is really positive right now, which is great!!

  3. Great job with being sober! I think it's a good progression to go from planning meals to eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full. That's kind of what I'm working on now.

  4. sarah; i'm with you. using food or alcohol only leads back to misery. it's really important for me to remember the outcome.

    and don't our EDs have LOUD voices?! mine started bugging me after lunch, "why'd you have potato salad? now, you're not entitled to a real dinner. you're gonna weigh 200 by mid-summer. better enjoy your figure now, 'cause it's not gonna last. waw, waw, waw, waw, waw."

    yikes. i just realized what i listen to all day. no wonder i'm anxious!!!!

    kim; thanks! you are right. there IS no right answer for everyone for always. figuring out what works today is really quite enough. truly, thank you so much. i get way ahead of myself. my attitude is positive. i'm going to have a real life, even though i often try to stand/get in my own way. it's a little exciting.

    Just Eat It! thank you for the support. it is great being sober. i really am (knock wood) finding it easier this time. it's something that is so right for me as plan this "having a real life". i agree with you -- starting with more planned meals feels a bit safer for now. maybe i won't freak myself out if i have more structure for now. lots to thinks about. i'm so glad for the help!

  5. I might eat the same thing every day for three weeks (when I am anxious). Same for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once I am off that downer phase I tend to stick to three small meals, three or four snacks each day. All healthy. I need structure with food or I get into a pattern of not eating much and it is bad for my head and my body.

    One rule I do have is that if I am not hungry, I don't eat. Otherwise I feel bloated and guilty - two things I just hate.

    There are no answers really. You just keep working at it.

    As for your weight and looking good (and being surprised). I have, over the past two years, put on 8kgs. I was underweight (5'9" and 120lbs) so needed to, but hate it (having once been fatty girl). However, everyone tells me I look great. I have to believe them. I feel like I can run for miles and really, that has to be a good thing.

    The ongoing battle between body and mind.

  6. I kind of mix all of your approaches. I do prefer to enjoy my food, and if tastes truly awful, I won't eat it. Thus, I cook a lot, plan a lot, and make it as healthy as I can stand. However, I accept that I will sometimes be traveling, or at friends' houses, or a party, and will have to do the best I can, and I allow myself to indulge from time and time and don't freak out about it, and I'm finding my way okay.

    Not too much to say about alcohol, as I neither like the taste nor effect, but sometimes I drink it for social reasons, and it always leads to poor food and other behavior, at least for me

  7. linda: body and mind, health vs. physical appearance. when i was way too skinny (thinking i looked about right), i couldn't climb the subway stairs without getting dizzy and wobbly. when i berate myself for getting heavier, i remind myself that now the subways are a breeze. i love that you feel like you can run for miles.

    justjuliebean: thanks for writing! it sounds like you have a healthy approach to eating. not freaking it out is great. i don't love to be around food all that much (it can still make me nervour), so i don't get into cooking. i admire people who make healthy eating and cooking a part of their recovery. we'll see what time brings...and you're right, alcohol leads to poor food and other behavior, for me too!!!

  8. I'm very happy you are taking this new healthy approach to how you communicate with your boyfriend. As for the food issue, just eat healthy and don't restrict yourself out of a sense of guilt. You MUST nourish yourself, body and mind. An occasional treat is good for you, and shouldn't make you berate yourself. You deserve it!!!

    I'm proud of you. You are doing great, and I hope you are proud of yourself.

  9. So here is what my nutritionist suggested as a way of dealing with the "what should I eat" and "perfectionist thinking" that makes me want to plan out every meal. Have a BASIC plan. My plan is to make sure that I eat one source of carbohydrate, one source of protein, and one source of fat for every meal. And each snack that I have needs to have two of the three things. So, when I go to the pantry, I very quickly scan eveything in there, think about what would taste good together, and then quickly evaluate if I have those three components. That way I don't obsess about it and I still get everything in that I need to be healthy.

  10. GREAT post! I'm right there with you on the search for balance. When I did Weight Watchers, I lost a bunch of weight and felt fantastic... though never completely satisfied with the number on the scale. Then one day I realized that although my weight was healthier, my head was not. WW allowed me to still be completely obsessed with food. Instead of seeing how much I could stuff in my face, I was busily counting, weighing, and fussing with my points. I just grew weary of that. And now I've gained it all back. But I DO feel less obsessed about it. I want the magic button where I don't have to obsess, but stay healthy! My freaking cat can do it! Why can't I!

  11. *Waves hello!* Wow! It sounds like you've done brilliantly these last few months :D this was a lovely post to find as I came back to my blog :D

  12. Karen: Thank you!. communication seems to be key to a lot of things. I need to get better at it. if i'm not communicating well, i still feel i need somewhere to run and hide. i'm learning a lot!

    Amelia: that does sound like a good plan. thanks. i do need to think more about WHAT i'm eating. i eat many carbs and sweets. i really like that idea of a basic plan. thanks again for passing this along. hope you're doing well.

    Danielle Mari: that's funny. i've had many cats and i've always been in awe of their balance. then i had one cat named Gibson (i'm Mel, so we named the cat Gibson.) Gibson ate everything and anything, all the time. he'd eat till he was really sick, unless, of course, we regulated exactly what he got. i thought, "this really is MY cat". like me, he did not have that magic button.

    Abi: "Yay" and welcome back. i was just thinking about you right before you posted. i'm so glad you're writing again. i am doing pretty well. the hard part is being healthy, clean and sober AND coping. i'm learning. look forward to reading your blog!

  13. Miss your posts Mel, hope you are well!!


  14. Sarah: thank you. i am well. it's just been busy lately. i've missed blogging! hope you are well.

  15. Thank you :) .... healthy, clean, sober AND coping... that's some serious multi-tasking right there!..Sometimes it's easy to think 'well for god's sake, lots of other people manage it' but no... no they don't really. It's Hard Work. Well done xxx

  16. thanks, abi! you are right -- it's like working so hard for something that other people do kind of naturally. but i've learned along the way, and i'm far more compassionate and i'm nicer and much more easygoing. but it IS HARD WORK!