‘I’m not hungry.’
‘I’ll get something later.’
‘5 more minutes.’
Those are a few of the phrases I would frequently use when I was in the grips of an eating disorder.
Was I genuinley not hungry or was I just saying it?
The truth is, I don’t know.
Eating disorders have a way of distorting everything- your every thought is completley consumed by its constant criticism.
I might have a craving for something, but that craving would be immediately ‘shot down’ by the voice in my head, the Anorexia, telling me that I didn’t need that- that I wasn’t hungry.
After a while that became the norm- never feeling hungry. I might feel hungry briefly, but then the thought of food would take that feeling away, almost as if my brain was feeding off of the criticism- off of those voices in my head.
Every day I was eating less and less because every day just the thought of eating would make me feel ‘full.’ Looking back I know how stupidly irrational that sounds, but when you’re so consumed by it, it all feels so real.
I do still get that feeling. I might be feeling hungry but then I convince myself that I’m not really hungry, that I’m just thirsty, and so I get a drink instead of getting what my body is really asking for, prolonging eating because I don’t want to feel ‘greedy.’
The only way to stop those feelings getting the better of me is to stick to a meal plan.
At the beginning of my recovery I stuck to a very strict meal plan. In Riverdale (where I was inpatient) a meal plan was devised by a dietician. Everything had to be eaten on that plan with no exceptions. As I would class myself as 90% recovered now, that meal plan is still there but to a much more ‘relaxed’ degree. I still have 3 meals a day and the quantity of those meals is the same that it has always been throughout my recovery, but, to give an example, I no longer must eat a cereal bar and a yogurt after my lunch. I just get what I’m craving. So some days thats a chocolate bar and a yogurt, and some days its a big slice of cake. I just have what I feel like.
There is a lot of talk about ‘intuitive eating’, characterised by eating what you want when you want it, not eating passed the point of fullness. Although in theory this sounds perfect, for people who are in or have recovered from an eating disorder, this can be potentially detrimental to their progress.
As I have mentioned before, the issue with eating disorders is that they often distort your perception, making it extremely difficult to know when you are hungry, therefore eating intuitively would be very hard as how would you know when to eat? It is for these reasons that I still stick to a meal plan, albeit a more relaxed one, to ensure that my progress isn’t hampered.
So I guess the key takeaway from this post is that you should never feel guilty for not following the ‘trend.’ Intuitive eating is promoted all over social media at the minute as being the ‘superior’ way to eat, but if you aren’t eating that way, that’s okay. You have to do what is right for you, not what everyone else tells you is right. Only you know how your relationship with food works, and you have to do everything you can to protect that relationship and keep yourself safe from relapse.