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On Second Thought… August 12, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, facing fear, Healthy Eating, Mindful Eating.
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You know how I said I was going to do a three-week elimination diet to see if I was having problems with eggs, dairy or gluten? And then I said last night I was eating when I wasn’t hungry to deal with stress reared its ugly head?

I think the two could be related. During the three-week period I was planning on eliminating certain foods I have a bunch of social events scheduled, and that was freaking me out. Plans include dinner with a great friend (she and I usually have appetizers, a drink, dinner, and sometimes dessert; we see each other about once every other month), a lunch out with volunteers for the non-profit for which I work part-time, a picnic with even more volunteers from the same agency, lunch out with my mom, helping to cater an event with a woman who makes the most fabulous desserts of all time, and perhaps other as-yet-unforseen events.

I realize that making changes for the better isn’t always easy, and that learning to stand up for yourself and what you want to put into your body is very important. For instance, if you decided to limit alcohol or sugar consumption but always give in when a friend or family member insists you have more, that’s no bueno. However, since doing this elimination diet wasn’t essential for me at this time, and because I am afraid it might be causing adverse emotional and therefore eating reactions, I’m holding off on it.

This is the lesson I’ve learned over the years: You must listen when something feels off. I was starting to feel anxious about the whole process of the elimination diet. The events I had coming up, the fact that I’ve been so happy and steady with healthy eating already, the fact that this reminded me of restrictive diets from my past, and the amount of time I was spending worrying about how I was going to handle this all were pushing me over the edge.  I can see why I was feeling anxious!

So, no three-week detox for me. I’m going to continue with my standard way of eating, which is veggie and fruit heavy, involves whole grains, some dairy (mostly organic and not every day), some local eggs, beans, dark chocolate, desserts once or twice a week, a glass of wine occasionally, and plenty of listening to my body for signs of hunger and satiety. Phew! That feels so much better.

Just wanted to get that off my chest!

What about you? Any recent diet changes? Are you feeling stressed or anxious about any of them?

Once a Binge-Eater, Always a Binge-Eater? August 12, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, facing fear, Meditation, Motivation.
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they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
even when they’re as dry as my lips for years
even when they’re stranded on a small desert island
with no place in two thousand miles to buy beer

-Ani Difranco’s “Fuel”

I’ve been stressed out this week. Little things started to add up. Though I’ve continued trying to take care of myself all of the ways I know work (eating regularly, eating a diet of whole foods, eating balanced meals, exercising, journaling, talking to friends, dealing with problems as they come up, meditating), I was still feeling the pressure of the week building. And building. Until it burst. And by “burst” I mean “eating more than is necessary”.

What can I say? Old habits die hard. Which is why I put the lyrics from the lovely Ani Difranco’s “Fuel” at the start of this blog. If I once had an eating disorder, do I always have an eating disorder? What if I overeat once in a blue moon but normally deal with things in a healthy, whole way? I certainly don’t have Binge Eating Disorder anymore; you can read how WebMD defines that here. 

I’m not perfect. That’s something I’ve had to face this week. And it goes for my eating and dealing with emotional issues, too. I believe food will probably always be one of the things I think about turning to when life gets too stressful. I also think that most of the time life won’t get too stressful, because I’ve got so many useful tools to deal with ups and downs of my days, and that when I do think of using food, I usually won’t use it. I have better ways. I can face things now. I’m okay. I believe there will always be that little tug somewhere that reminds me of the way things were. I also believe I’m healed in so many, many ways. I believe helping others deal with these problems further heals me. I believe I don’t have to have all the answers. Especially to the question I posed above, whether or not I still have an eating disorder because I once had on. Who cares what someone else might define me as?

Yup, last night I ate too much to try to avoid worrying about things going on in my life. And then I stopped. And I was gentle with myself. And then this morning I woke up and moved on. I wrote to a friend and asked, point-blank, for a pep talk. I don’t have to resolve everything alone. I don’t have to always impress everybody. I don’t, and can’t, be perfect. I’m healing, I’m growing, I’m learning.

 

Elimination Diet August 11, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, facing fear, Healthy Eating.
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For years while I was binge eating I would put myself on a new diet every other week. Who am I kidding? Every other day! Said diet would inevitably end in crash and burn fashion when, two hours or five hours or 12 hours into it, I felt overwhelmed/happy/sad/guilty and ate everything within arms reach. However, that never stopped me from planning my next diet as soon as I was through binging.

The diets I wasn’t attempting weren’t crash diets, no, I knew those could backfire. But they were usually restrictive in some way or another; not much fat, more protein than I normally like, no eggs or dairy, no sugar, only foods that start with b. You get the gist. I don’t even think it was necessarily the restrictive nature of the diets that got me binging again, I think it was that I was always dieting to lose weight, therefore always telling myself I wasn’t good enough, therefore providing myself more fuel for the binge-fire. In other words: people with eating disorders and disordered eating shouldn’t diet. EVER.

I know, I know, if you suffer with compulsive overeating or binge eating it’s probably really tough to convince yourself of that. However, dieting in that state just makes things worse. Much, much worse.

Even though I’m recovered from BED (not that I don’t sometimes struggle) I still don’t diet. I live a lifestyle that means I mostly eat whole, real foods with only occasional junk foods, but I don’t tell myself I can or cannot have something. So why am I embarking on a three-week allergen elimination diet starting next week? I’ll tell you this: It doesn’t have anything to do with weight loss. (But I am going to the beach in a few weeks, so if my body wanted to make my butt a little smaller before then, I’d be okay with that.)

It has to do with my health. Not health as a code word for weight loss, but my genuine health. For the past few months I’ve been having, um, well, let’s just say that the old Poop Factory isn’t working as well as I’d like. It’s working frequently enough, but the product it’s outputting is not always what it should be. I really didn’t know how else to say that. If Dr. Oz can talk about poop, hopefully I can, too!

Anyways…I’ve read sometimes imperfect BM can come from a food allergy or sensitivity. Common food allergens: Dairy, eggs, gluten. I personally don’t think it’s eggs, as I don’t eat them very often. However, starting next Monday I’m eliminating all of these products, plus caffeine and alcohol (which I consume once in a blue moon) for three weeks. The idea is to see how my body reacts without these foods and then slowly add them back separately in after the three weeks is up.

The hardest thing for me is going to be the gluten. I eat oatmeal like it’s my job. I’m sure I can live on quinoa, brown rice and millet for three weeks, though. I don’t eat much bread to begin with, but I’ll have to careful about things like soy sauce and alternative milks. I never realized how many things gluten can be in! I suspect my problem may be dairy, since my family has some lactose intolerance, but I’m really not sure. Also, it could be none of these things. This could be stress-related. It could be IBS. Who knows? However, the only way to find out is to try a diet shift and see if it helps.

Why am I even writing about this here? Because I have a pretty strong no-diet rule. And I am interested to see if these rules cause any friction in my happy state with food, and I thought it might be fun to talk about here, too.

Have you ever tried an elimination diet? Did it help or harm you?

Good Enough For Me August 7, 2010

Posted by Jen in facing fear, Sprituality, travel.
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Before I started typing this post, I was searching for some pictures from my own personal catalog to add. I was doing this because I want this blog to feel both helpful and professional, but friendly, too! I want to let you know what’s going on in my world, and what it’s like to live a life that is free from ED, and how I deal with it.

And often times my life has nothing to do with ED, because, well, it doesn’t consume my life anymore. My life involves hiking and cooking and spending time with family and friends; it involves reading and walking and some part-time work at a mediation center where I work with fantastic volunteers that are mostly in their 70’s and 80’s that are a huge inspiration to me; it involves stretching and strength training and meditating and sleeping and writing and journaling and petting my cats and spending time with my partner, Anthony.

When I went to search for pictures, though, I felt that familiar pull of trepidation. “My pictures are terribly low quality compared to some of the other bloggers.” “I don’t know what to put up here; does anyone even care?”

You know the how the soundtrack in your mind goes. Old familiar fears, often showing up disguising themselves as helpful or sincere, pop up when you least expect them. And that’s when your choice comes in. You can listen to your head or you can listen to your heart. You can give in to the voices and walk away from the challenges you intended to take on, or you can tell the voices what you think of them. Or maybe just gently inquire about why the voices appeared in the first place.

For me, my pictures and blog, in that moment, just didn’t feel good enough. I don’t have a professional header, I only started blogging a couple of months ago and don’t have much readership, I’m still figuring out what the core of the blog will be. And that scares me. But when I stare the fear in the face, my only real desire is to have a place to share. A place to write about stuff like this, a place to talk about goal setting, health, wellness, recipes, food, disordered eating, and other things that I am passionate about. And that is good enough for me.

So how about some pictures?

A dinner plate I made in a pottery class last year. (Clearly, I am not a professional, this was just for fun!)

Mmmm....a frost green monster. One of my favorite smoothies!

Me at Pancake Rocks in New Zealand, back in 2007

Hawaii. Nepali Coast Overlook in Kauai. I've been lucky enough to visit three of the islands and have made two different trips to Hawaii.

Tulips from the nearby Biltmore Estate

Well, those are some of my interests in a nut shell. Travel, beauty, food, creativity. I didn’t put any cat pictures up, but my cats are definitely an enormous part of my life. Nola is keeping me company as I type this.

What about you? What are you going to today when something feels scary?