Sunday, July 8, 2012

Childhood Non-Memories

I think I've written before about how stressed out I get before Official Weigh-Ins with my dietician and therapist, and Friday was no different. I knew I had gained (still weigh myself daily...working on that...) and was really dreading having to step on the scale at my D appointment. The last time I saw her a couple weeks ago, I had lost and was at my lowest weight in a year-ish, and J gave me a Big Talk about scary health stuff and inpatient guidelines and all that. So I knew that I needed to gain, and I even wanted to gain to show her that I was serious and committed (and also to avoid inpatient, duh) - but of course I was worried that I had gained "too much" and that she would suddenly think I was a fat, greedy pig. My weight was holding pretty steady/dropping slightly for a while, but then seemed to finally jump up a couple pounds over the past week or so, which of course freaked me out and made me assume I was eating too much.

At my appointment, J told me that even though my weight was " up a little bit," it was still moving too slowly for her liking. So she proceeded to add to my meal plan. Part of me was relieved to hear that she didn't think I was gaining too quickly, but mostly I was baffled that she saw the need to add more food. If I'm already gaining on the XXXX cals a day I eat now, how much more will I gain on the beefed up plan??

BUT that last paragraph sounded incredibly eating-disordered, so I'm going to cut myself off from that line of thinking. Later during my appointment, J gave me a list of suggestions for increasing calories, which I mostly shrugged off like, what?? I can't eat any of that stuff. Even when I think I'm doing well, it shocks me sometimes to remember how many self-imposed food rules and restrictions I still have. Don't want to give too many specifics, but most added sources of fat and calories are pretty much off-limits. Some of my rules don't make much sense (e.g. I'll cook with oil in the pan but won't pour dressing on my salad, or I'll have a slice of cheese on my sandwich but won't add sprinkles to my fro yo. Logic? Hello? You out there?) but are definitely set in stone in my head.

Anyway, J gave me this long list of relatively high-cal foods, and asked what I had liked to eat as a kid that I might consider adding back in to my diet. And honestly? I couldn't think of anything. That wasn't even me trying to be sneaky and pretend like "oh please, J, I've always lived on fruits and veggies and Diet Coke. Mmm lettuce and carrots, brings back some great childhood memories." I know I used to eat desserts and snacks and candy, I just couldn't remember what. I also couldn't remember when, or under what circumstances, I would have eaten them. Did I just randomly walk past the pantry and decide to make a bowl of ice cream? Was that before or after lunch? Did I still eat lunch at the same time? Did I have a side of chips with lunch? How much popcorn did I eat at the movies? Was I still hungry for dinner? I suppose it's a testament to my healthy mindset at the time that I literally cannot recall anything about what or when I ate - I guess that means I never really paid attention. That's good, right? I wasn't always this neurotic, calorie-phobic freak.

So, I'm still wracking my brain, trying to think of foods I used to like. Maybe I can't recreate the totally carefree eater I once was, but I can certainly try to formulate a semi-normal, healthy adult version.


  1. I was an INCREDIBLY picky eater as a kid (I would go through phases where there were only about two or three things I would eat, period), and so I've also found it hard to plan to go "back" to normal unrestricted eating, when menu selection was a contentious issue of some kind ever since I started on solid foods. Granted, when I was eight years old my "restrictive" eating meant I only wanted Ramen soup and peanut butter sandwiches, haha...but I think brushing starvation mode with an ED actually solved my pickyness problem pretty well, and the irony is that my diet is way, way more diverse in recovery than at any other time in my life.

    Anyway, it seemed like you were talking more about going back to spontaneity and intuitive eating rather than non-pickyness, sorry for the tangent. Recovery can be a great time to step out of the box and introduce yourself to foods/preparation methods you had never really discovered before. Maybe painting it as a broadening experience, rather than merely a "get more calories in" experience, can be useful in the near future as you work on this? And THEN as you get comfortable with having X or Y food when it's planned, it'll be easier for you to pick it when you're in the mood for it, perhaps. Baby steps.

    Last thought: I also had a huge aversion to added fats for a long time (not saying it's all the way gone, but a lot better now), because I just didn't trust that pasta cooked with oil would REALLY be more satisfying to me than naked pasta. It is. Both for your body and mind, I think. I really believe that sometimes unenthusiasm about food with an ED is just because most ED-safe foods (to stereotype, I know not all of them count) are fairly blah foods and not much to really get excited about. And a lot of recovery foods aren't much better (I've definitely had "one more chalky protein bar and I'll scream" moments). Rediscovering that food can actually be that tasty and satisfying, if you can separate that from anxiety about the calories and fat, can really be a big step for both physical health and normalizing your relationship to food in social contexts, etc.

    That was kind of a rambly comment. Keep on keeping on, you have so much to be proud of.

    1. ramble away! oddly enough, I wasn't super picky as a kid and I've become much more so since then, from a combination of ED fears and also just pure taste. I actually did recently start cooking with olive oil on the pan instead of Pam spray and was absolutely amazed to discover that it makes food taste a million times better. who knew?

  2. When I had all my meals monitored with my parents still I began to go to the grocery store with my Mum. Looking through the isles reminded me what I ate as a kid and it was comforting to eat that rather than something more grown up and harder. I guess because it's familiar! Anyway, to try to remember maybe go to the grocery store or a supermarket and browse till you find something familiar you ate as a kid! Then add it is as an extra snack or part of a meal :) Keep pushing yourself each day to see what you can achieve. Love and support, Lucy xxx

  3. I definitely hear ya on the food rules. When I'm in the middle of them everyday, I forget just how disordered they really are, despite following the mealplan, etc. Congrats for recognizing that it's an area that could use some work! I think noticing that and wanting to change things is a huge step. I agree with both Cammy and Lucy, that maybe looking in the grocery store to find things that you either used to eat or just seeing things that look tasty will help you to achieve both goals of adding what J wants you to, and also broadening what you feel comfortable with and starting to enjoy it! It might take some experimenting, but if you can try to see it as a fun challenge to find delicious things that also work with the mealplan, it might be a little easier. Good luck to you! I hope you can find some yummy stuff that will help the process get a little easier!