Firstly, I want to start this post by saying that I’m writing about my own nutritional requirements and this should absolutely not be taken as advice. Everyone has different needs, a different lifestyle and metabolic system, we could all do the same thing and see completely different results.
It was yet another Monday morning, I was dragging myself out of bed with that same familiar feeling of tiredness. Around 2pm a situation arose that made me feel stressed and anxious, my immediate reaction? Turn to food, fast, sweet and heavily processed. Which, as a result only made me feel worse, emotional feelings of worthlessness mixed in with a sugar high followed by a subsequent low.
If I’m being honest, the mental side of this cycle was the most damaging, there’s no joy to be found in a cycle of self-hatred. A cycle where you’re searching for a high in consumption; it’s an interesting topic because some of us turn to alcohol or drugs, I turned to food. This is by no means a bad, or abnormal situation, more the fact that some people handle these cycles better than others.
At the point of it becoming a daily occurrence, I realised that something would have to change, I kept making promises to myself that “Tomorrow will be the day”. Which would be a promise followed by a subsequent binge of food, primarily focused on whatever I’d been redistricting myself from. Tomorrow never came. I was in a web of constant denial, frustrated and ready for a change.
From speaking to others, I’m now of the understanding that this is an easy mind-set to fall into, it’s often one of the lesser spoken about eating disorders. Often, it’s a result of years of yo-yo dieting or complicated relationships with food. What it isn’t, is a crime, uncommon or something to feel ashamed about…
But, interestingly, in complete contrast to my relationship with food, my fitness was finally improving. I was finally at a point of building a whole lot more confidence and enjoyment in running and lifting weights. Therefore, understandably, my vision was “If I could just get a handle on my eating? Surely everything would fall into place?”
Sadly, it’s not that simple.
When I decided to reach out to Shannon (My Nutritionist) I didn’t have crazy expectations and I still don’t, if I’m honest I felt a bit embarrassed and vulnerable. The most important thing to remember, is that we can’t expect other people to work miracles. All we can do is trust the process, give it time and be prepared to try something new.
After providing my personal information, I had a stomach-churning feeling whilst waiting for her recommendations. I was fearful she would suggest something unsustainable or unrealistic, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to live up to the expectations I’d set myself. I was also, as you can imagine becoming fearful of falling into the trap of another disordered eating cycle.
She suggested that we start with my current calorific intake, but with a focus on macronutrients and not just calories, with a long term goal of reverse dieting. Note: I will go into this in a separate post in the future, because right now I have no experience to share, so keep an eye out for that. I did want to lose a very modest amount of weight (around 4kg), yet on the other hand, truth be told I’d be happy with gaining weight and having a more balanced relationship with food.
The first week was tough, I spent 4 days “practicing” and was instantly amazed by how much more food I could consume. Alongside the fact that I could comfortably eat 3 high carb meals each day. Not forgetting the joy from adding things like extra cheese, 25/30g servings of nut butter and really increasing my water intake. This, might not read like a hugely dramatic change, yet the difference in how I felt was remarkable. I was excited about food, I felt satisfaction after my meals, I had more energy and I wasn’t tempted to binge.
Whilst, I’ll be the first one to admit, planning my meals in advance can be tiring and it’s my full intention that once I’ve “re-learned” how to eat this will hopefully feel more organic. I’m putting a significant amount of effort into making sure that my diet is as varied as possible, as it’s easy to slip into eating the same thing over and over.
The biggest change is from my mind, I’m gradually learning to deal with stressful situations without food, at the point of writing this it’s been a month since I last binge ate. I am only human, I know at some point I will have a blip and I’m not ashamed of this; because I’m learning that shame and guilt are such terrible ways to feel around food.
I aim to eat in a way that brings me pleasure, I enjoy chocolate, and last night I sat down and demolished homemade pizza. I’m always being asked what I “can’t eat” and truth be told, nothing is off the menu.
Whilst I feel it’s far too early in my journey to talk about the end result and I’m committed for the next 3 months. I will write a review of my overall health and wellness at a later date. I do recognise that it’s a privileged situation to be able to obtain help and I fully appreciate that this isn’t viable for everyone. Therefore, behind the scenes I’m trying to build a list of as many interesting low/cost resources as possible, if you have any good suggestions, please let me know!