Thinking about food...

My parents are out of town for the next week, and I'm on my own in terms of food and eating. Well, not completely on my own, because I have some leftovers, and I have a book full of meal ideas that are meal plan compliant. There's plenty of food in the house, I shouldn't have to go shopping for anything other than produce or milk. So I'm pretty much set in that respect.

What has caught me off guard was how much harder it is to eat by myself. And not just eat, but decide what to eat, and then prepare it, and clean up after it. Not having to be in charge of all of that when my parents are around, I forgot just how much thinking all of this really required.

I can't help but think how easy it would be to start cutting corners. Not that I went into this week looking forward to the opportunity to restrict, which is something I would have looked forward to not all that long ago. I haven't even been having urges to restrict. I don't necessarily want to eat less. Yet somehow I've been finding it hard to eat enough.

Part of me is just tired at having to think about food so much. I haven't really been thinking of food in the starved, obsessive way that I used to, but I do still deliberate about what to eat much more than most people. And I'm really not totally comfortable making those decisions. I still wouldn't mind having someone pick out my meals for me (assuming I have some input and I wouldn't have to eat anchovies or anything). It's still just very overwhelming, all the food-related things to think about.

Yesterday, I was juggling about four different writing projects, and I really didn't want to have to plan in lunch and snack and dinner. I had lunch at about 1pm, which was pretty normal for me, but then I put my nose to the grindstone, and all of a sudden, I looked up and it was 4:45 and I hadn't yet had my afternoon snack. The last thing I wanted to do at that point was stop what I was doing, go downstairs, and find something to eat. I really wasn't hungry and I had piles of work to get done. In another life, I would have put my head down and bulled on through until someone came and got me for dinner.

I have to remember that I don't live that life anymore.

I did go downstairs and get a snack and take a breather and then I went back to work until it was time for a bike ride and watering the plants. Still, preparing and eating meals doesn't feel completely natural to me. I have the let's-refill-the-coffee-pot thing down pat, but serving myself food feels stilted and awkward. I'm aware that some of this awkwardness has to do with how long it's been since I've actually served myself a full-on meal. But I also can't shake this shame that I'm eating and consuming something. Or that my being in the kitchen and putting stuff on my plate is somehow abnormal and wrong. Logically, I know that there is nothing wrong and that people don't live on air. Yet I'm still embarrassed that someone will see me in the kitchen, actually getting something to eat.

(But if I wasn't getting something to eat or drink, why in the hell would I be in the kitchen anyways?)

It's obvious that I eat. I'm alive, therefore I must eat something. I also don't care what other people eat or judge them for it (unless they smack their lips when chewing. Then I do judge and I don't care.) I'm trying to trust that the horrible kitchen awkwardness will pass. I'm trying to take this one meal and one snack at a time.

I am eating. I am doing okay. And however hard and itchy and awkward it may be, I am doing what I need to do. I have my slips, my moments of not-so-accidentally-undereating. It's hard to give up the idea of the perfect recovery and get back in the saddle again. I'm tired of thinking about meals and snacks. But I have so much going for me now that thinking of food is really a small price to pay for the rest of this.

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zette said...

proud of your strength. hang in there, babygirl. you're doing so well.


. said...

just be glad that your thoughts revolving around food are about preparing and eating it instead of bingeing/not eating it! that's already a huge step and in the future you may be able to treat food like any normal person.


Lisa said...

I'm proud that you ate. I share the same thoughts with you. For me, it's on the days I'm not in day treatment I find it hard to remember it's meal time or to eat when I'm not feeling like it. It's okay to feel like that. It's okay, and kudos or eating!!!!

Keep going strong! You've got this!

Cathy (UK) said...

I agree, you DO have a lot going for you right now Carrie, so I am glad that you're not letting self-doubt get in the way of your writing career and turning to AN instead :)

Like you, I hate having to think about food all the time and ensuring that I maintain my recovered weight, but the reality is that unless I adhere to a meal plan I 'naturally' under-eat and inevitably lose weight - which I don't welcome. The reality is also that I don't especially enjoy eating (apart from when I am hungry and hence desperate to fulfil a physiological requirement for energy and blood glucose) - although every so often I do discover foods that I enjoy - like biscuits (cookies) with cashew nut butter/chocolate spread :D

I haven't had someone control my eating since I was in my teens and I have lived alone for > 20 yrs. I invariably eat alone and I ate alone as I gained weight during recovery. To be honest, it would annoy me if someone took control of my eating, and despite weight recovery I still have eating difficulties - especially OCD-related, like fear of eating contaminated food with contaminated cutlery.

I had eating difficulties long before I ever became anorexic and my current eating difficulties aren't related to fear of further weight gain etc. However, that's difficult for many people to understand when they know I have a history of AN. My mother, however, does understand my weird eating habits from memories of trying to encourage me to eat more than just eggs and bread as a young child, and my ever-raging OCD...

Briony said...

I can totally identify with this: when I gained weight after the first bout of my disorder, I was living at home so I always had my mum cook me an evening meal and check up on what I ate. I didn't realise quite how important it was until I left for uni and immediately fell back into undereating.
And by the way, well done for not taking the opportunities to restrict!

Kate said...

i so know what you mean. my worry and discomfort comes from the other end of the spectrum, however, as i am prone to compulsive overeating and bulimia.

so for me, what is abnormal and difficult is that creating something fresh and whole and good for me takes time. it means i can't shove something in my mouth for comfort or to push my feelings down. it means i have to think, and prepare, and breathe - all things that are so hard for me when food is involved.

i like cooking, but then i'll sit down and forget what to do. why can't i eat the whole thing i just cooked? you mean i have to put saran wrap over it and keep it for later?

ugh. it's maddening. it's honestly easier to eat a whole box of cereal or 1/2 gallon of ice cream. i know that must sound crazy to a restrict-er, but good grief it makes perfect sense to me.

keep up the good work, carrie. be gentle with yourself.

Dear Diary... said...

I totally relate. I have gotten to exhausted from thinking about food. Since I left treatment, I am in charge of my meals which is complete freedom from prior to treatment where my family decided what I would eat and when. Though I enjoy the freedom the responsibility is also tiring because I obsess and obsess over the choices I have and being such a perfectionist with my meal plan. Sometimes it is easier to just have the decision made for you.
But I just remind myself of the life I want to live. Do I want a life that is based around food? Or a life where a meal is just something I do to feed my body and then proceed to a normal life?
Though it feels so abnormal right now, I'm hoping that one day I will feel normal around eating and will feel comfortable with having a more flexible meal plan then the one I am following now.
I guess we just need to remember this is a transition period. We're in the midst of change which is rarely comfortable.
I enjoy your blog. Keep writing. =)

Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul said...

I've actually been struggling with this as well, as my husband has been in class every night for the past few weeks. So dinners have been on my own and, like you mention, it can feel "weird" to make a whole meal for yourself. My inclination is to eat something quick, which usually doesn't amount to enough in either quantity or nutritional components. I have to really make a concerted effort to develop healthy meals - even if it's just for me.

Anonymous said...

I totally get this. I even have a hard time telling my therapist what I'm eating, because I'm afraid of what she'll think of me! I'm always worrying she'll think I'm a pig, even though she tells me it is important to eat. What is with that?

Renee said...

Just for a different perspective - I am envious of you, Carrie. I have pretty horrible IBS, probably as a result of my EDs, so in my mind, all these women struggling with the psychological aspects of eating are so lucky! I am working on my ED recovery, but it's doubly difficult when everything you eat gives you debilatating gas pain, cramping, constipation or diarrhea. My whole life revolves around managing the symptoms related to what I put in my mouth. And I'm supposed to have a normal relationship with food?

Unknown said...

Thank you sooo much for this blog! It is so comforting to know that I am not alone in my struggle. I have been following your blog for about a few months, and really resonated with it being in Naturopathic medical school and a total lover of science, writing, nutrition, exercise, etc. However, in the last 2 months life has been rather busy and I had not had a chance to check it. Tonight in my deliberation and procrastination about what the heck else to eat to reach the dang number of calories I need to eat I decided to see what was up and sure enough the post spoke directly to exactly what I have been struggling with this week.
This week has been so hard for me too. I was doing wellwith my food and eating what my sponsor suggested, but then took a trip to portland and returning from it can not get myself back together.
It is also refreshing to hear that I am not the only one who struggles with debilitating indecision when it comes to food choices. I cook and prepare all my own meals and it is such a chore! I never feel like i'm choosing the right foods to eat at the right times in the right quantities. Then on the one hand I worry about eating everything I'm supposed to, worried that I will gain too much weight and not in the right proportions, etc and yet on the ohter hand when I fail to reach the goal and restrict I worry that I'm screwing up my metabolism even more and that I will one day be completely obese; I feel damned if I do and damned if I don't.
However, I like that you mentioned you can't afford to go back to anorexia because you have a future even if it isn't completely clear. That is what helps me too, knowing that others are rooting for me and believe in me and the desire to one day help others struggling with eating disorders.
Thanks and many blessings

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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