This new year I've decided it's time to eat better. I feel as if I've hit my own personal “rock bottom” when it comes to nutrition and what I put in my body. Now I know I probably eat somewhat better than the average American, but for me, it's not serving my body nor my brain. I eat the right amounts, but the foods are mostly nutritionally empty. I don't get nearly enough fruits and vegetables and probably not enough fiber. To put it plainly: I feel like shit.
As an advocate of listening to ones body, I'm listening to mine and she's saying it's time to get it together. More like, “Hey, you. You that keeps putting all this crap food in me. Yeah, please figure it out!” So, I said okay. Sounds easy enough, right? I know what to do, and basically know what to eat, it's putting it into action that's the hard part. So, I set out to do it, made my shopping list and made small changes this past week. I won't bore you with what I ate- that's not important. And what works for me may not be what works for someone else. What I want to talk about is how I, someone with a history of disordered eating, feels about changing the way I eat. It wasn't as easy as just doing it.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my decision to not do the 30 days of no sugar diet
in fear that I may lose weight. Sounds crazy, right? What am I, nuts? Afraid
to lose weight? I think it's safe to say that many people who tumble into an eating disorder did so by just wanting to “lose a few pounds”. A few pounds is easy, so a few more won't be so bad. Then we notice clothes are loose and people begin to notice and the compliments start. Some people end here and others don't. I was one of those people that couldn't stop. So, years later being recovered, food and what I do with it is still an issue. Not nearly as big as it used to be, but I still fear “it” is just dormant. Waiting for me to do something as innocent as want to eat better.
So what is a mom-of-2-wanting-to-eat-better-former-disordered-eating-girl to do? I can only speak from experience and a lot of deep thinking. Here we go:
- Don't be afraid. When you get to the point when you want to eat better for the sake of eating better, feeling better and just good health, NOT to lose weight, pat yourself on the back. It's a sign of recovery. You'll know when you get there.
- Take it slow. Just like anything, if you make too many changes too quickly, it's likely to fail. I started with breakfast. It wasn't intimidating. Don't look at the big picture, it's overwhelming and may make you crazy. One day at a time is all you need.
- It doesn't have to be perfect. Be flexible and willing to make adjustments. If you've battled disordered eating, you may have battled perfectionism as well. Some days I scarf down a huge plate of spaghetti. Oh freakin' well. I don't apologize, I don't have to “make up for it” later. It's just spaghetti. No one cares. Period.
- Be somewhat organized. The reason I say “somewhat” is because you don't want to be too organized, too regimented or you may fall into the land of obsessing about every morsel and meal you put into your body. Think about what you need for the next few days and shop for it. Fresh foods usually need to be purchased more often than processed foods.
- Get support from others: Your significant other, parents, friends, anyone in your life you lean on; let them know you're ready to make a change nutritionally and it's for the best. They'll be proud.
This may seem like a lot to think about when all you're doing is trying to eat better. I mean, doesn't everyone make that resolution every year? Maybe yes, but for someone with a history of disordered eating, even though we're free from the food and body image obsession and the thoughts and behaviors that surround it, doesn't mean it's not tricky when we make changes in our lives in regards to food. But, it is possible.
For me, I got to the point where if I really do love myself and my body, treating it as such included putting food into my body that nourishes my cells and makes it happy.