So the title isn't really the topic of this post, but I really am starting to wonder why I am even blogging? Do people even read this? I mean I have such a passion to help others through my recovery...yet is anyone really reading? Regardless I come back and blog again....perhaps it's for me. Perhaps it so on the days I struggle I can come back here and look and see how far I've come, and somehow get that spark to keep fighting. Alright enough about that...onto the good stuff.
Thought I would write about something I like to call freedom foods. Many inpatient places or dietitions refer to them as fear foods or forbidden foods. They are those things you have refuse to allow yourself to eat. Perhaps it was a binge food? Maybe it's the cals, fat, sugar, or some other number? Maybe it's because someone told you you couldn't have it? Or maybe you aren't sure why you don't eat it...you just know you don't.
First off, I think it is awesome that these exist. That our minds make lists of things we can't eat. I know, it sounds crazy right. But here is why I say this....it gives us something to focus on other than weight goals. For me numbers are such an obsession so having another focus of my recovery is good. Plus I love list, and I can easily (well in the non-emotional sense) write down a list of the foods I am afraid of.
So let's talk about how you face these things.
1. Reframe: The key for me....don't call them fear or forbidden foods. Who the hell want to eat a fear food? Not me. So I cleverly renamed them "freedom foods." A food that will make me feel free....sure I could do that.
2. Use others: Sometimes it's helpful to figure out why you fear the food and talk that out with your team or support. Usually they help you to see why you shouldn't be afraid and that's good to bring into the "experience" of eating it. It also may help to do the food with your friend or someone you trust who knows about your disorder. They can help distract you or talk you through it.
3. Make a plan: At first for me and my nutritionist we just chose a few foods for me to do each week and then worked our way up to one every day and then multiple a day. This is where having a written down list helps. As you conquer each one you can mark it off however you want (I use highlighters, but you can use stickers, scratch it out...whatever works). It is important that your nutritionist helps you with this because sometimes we will want to do the easiest freedom foods first, but it's good to do some really hard ones at first as well, because it makes the easy ones that much easier. Without my N pushing me to do that....I would have never been able to get through the list.
4. Repeat: Now for me it was important to also mark the things I had eaten, but was still scared of. I mean if you eat a freedom food once and don't feel free to keep eating it...you really haven't conquered it yet. In fact, you have to keep incorporating them in your diet or they just come back on the list.
This is where me and my nutritionist developed staples....fear foods that are huge for me and thus I have to do them every week till they aren't so scary. I thought she was crazy at first making me do that...but let me tell you...it works. And it's also really cool to look back and remember how scared you were but now you aren't.
My best example...dining hall bagels. I used to be so scared of these and vowed to never eat them. So of course...they became a staple. At first they were scary, I struggled with not finishing or other ways of trying to get around them...but now. I eat them every day and they are my favorite snack. Now we are working with putting spreads on them to make it more "normal." You would think I would look back and feel guilt about "giving in" and eating these foods...but the stronger my brain gets from the right nutrients...the more I realize how much control I gain from overcoming these foods. It's part of food becoming a part of my life, but not my life.
So tonight in honor of this topic I conquered a huge fear food in a Peppermint Stick Clif Bar. I wrote my nutritionist about it and she wouldn't let me count it as the exchange I wanted to, but I am working on trusting her and her advice. So I had it. And I tasted it. That's important. You can't just eat a freedom food mechanically. Maybe at first if that's what it takes. But to feel the freedom and the rush of pride...you have to taste it and the freedom it brings. Sometimes this tasting makes you realize you don't actually like this thing you are so afraid of....but other times....it awakens your taste buds and they can become your favorite things. The later was my experience tonight. And sometimes that one is harder.
It's hard to admit I like food, but I do. It's hard to admit I need food, but that's a reality is well. But hey, recovery is hard.....that's what makes us who push through it so dang courageous.