Something which I think has been quite important to me in recovery is breaking rules around types of foods, timings and exercise.When asked about “disordered” habbits it is so easy to become defensive and reply with “that’s just how I like it” rather than actually challenging the ED voices in your head.After all “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you”
I’d be lying today if I said I preferred skim milk in my coffee, Plain toast rather than buttered, Walking in the rain rather than taking the bus. But for such a long time I would tell myself that I did. When my mum questioned why I hardly put any oil in the pan I would say “It tastes the same without oil”. I would pick 0% or low fat yogurt swearing it tastes better.Or that chicken with no salt or spice is nicer.
When I began to challenge these rules/habits I actually realised a latte tastes nicer with whole milk, Full fat yogurt is not the devil, its perfectly ok to have peanut butter or normal butter on toast.
Something that helps me is to think; “if butter had no calories then would I put it on my toast?If whole milk had the same nutritional values as skim milk which one would I choose for my coffee?” Its really hard to know sometimes what is your personal preference VS what is the ED voice. I think its important to be honest with yourself.Ofcourse it is difficult to break rules and habits and it may not happen overnight.
You may have been having plain foods and low fat foods for so long you forget how good the “real thing tastes” .I don’t want to be avoiding certain foods for the rest of my life.There is literally no point.
Its actually so liberating to be able to pick a sandwich or wrap that is higher calories purely because it tastes nice!Or to get a latte and not care if the milk is whole or semi skimmed.
Sure you can convince yourself that you are choosing the lower calorie option because that is what you want.OR you can be a rebel to the eating disorder and go for what YOU want.
This may seem trivial but each rule broken is progress.
People may have “fear foods” which they are scared of eating.A food can be a fear for any number of reasons.It may be because the food is high calorie/fat.You may fear it will make you gain weight.You may think you do not deserve it.You may label it as “unhealthy”.You may associate it with bad things.
Fear foods may also seem irrational.I restricted on fruit and veg and it was a fear for me to eat a lot of fruit/veg because it would make me weigh more/feel too full even though it is not high calories.I can now see how irrational that fear was.I still have some fear foods. For example cereal or ice-cream because I binged on it so much in the past.I have however been able to reintroduce many foods such as chocolate,sweet potato fries e.t.c which I love but didn’t allow myself to have for a long time unless it was during a binge.Sure you can restore weight on “safe foods” But I think its important to challenge yourself with “fear foods” so they are no longer fears and so you can progress mentally too. Furthermore this may make socialising easier. For example if you can enjoy a few slices of pizza at a party then you will probably have a better time than if you stand there eating your carrot sticks!
It is also so wonderfull to be able to get the bus to somewhere even if it is just a 15 min walk because you don’t feel like walking that day.Dont get me wrong I loooove walks. But its no fun walking somewhere in the rain and cold just because your head tells you to.
I’ve also realised its ok when you are hungry even if its “not the right time”.The cells in my body probably don’t care if I have lunch at 1pm or 2pm.Maybe it is ok to Break that rule and have lunch 15 mins earlier than you planned, just because you can.Working as a waitress my meal timings are all over the place.For example I may plan to eat at 5pm then suddenly my break is moved to 3pm and you just have to roll with it.The key is to still get enough.I still find flexibility challenging sometimes but its something that will be essential as a nursing student doing shift work so this is good preparation.
Finally I would like to say though that ofcourse it is ok to have skim milk or 0% yogurt,or no oils/butters/spreads..Thats normal if its what you generally prefer.But Do it because its what YOU want and not what the ED wants or what society tells you is right.
Challenging rules/habits is something which takes time.I know I am not 100% free of rules . I also think it is important to not beat yourself up over not being able to abandon all rules overnight.