This guide is based on my own experiences over the past week or so of really facing freedom foods....even with my weight doing things I couldn't explain (yes, I did get to experience the ballooning). Even when I felt like it wasn't okay. Even when everything in me said not to. In the end, it came down to choosing to trust God and that small voice inside telling me everything would be okay. So the biggest guide: TRUST GOD...TRUST YOUR TEAM...TRUST YOURSELF...but since we (or at least I) like list and specifics...here ya'll go. Just remember..this is what works for me...what works for you may be different :)
- I have really enjoyed bringing a journal and taking picture with my camera. To me, these ictories are huge and honestly..I like to remind myself so next time ED comes up and says I can’t eat something I remember I CAN and HAVE. Also, journaling out how I am getting through the situation has helped each time I have faced a fear food.
- I also have made sure to ask my N the proper serving size and exchanges and TRUST and OBEY what she says. If it is a food you haven’t allowed yourself in a while its okay to ask for help from your N about how to eat something. And it’s better to ask and face the fear of eating more than you thought than to undereat, share with your N how you ate the fear food, and find out you mistakenly restricted. Trust me…it’s much harder to have to eat more the second time around.
- Let other people know. This has been something big I have done this time around. Instead of just telling people after what I am going to have, I let them know ahead of time. That way they can lift up prayers and usually my amazing friends also send supportive texts J Or in the case of my b-day cake tomorrow…even come out and do it with me. Know that it is okay that you are afraid of foods and is nothing to be ashamed of. Those who love and care about you will support your decision to face the food!
- Have a plan for the meal. For me it is helpful not only to plan out when I will do the fear food but also HOW. I usually like to bring something non anxiety provoking to read and also allow myself to journal out anything ED tells me to do/not to do during the meal. It has been really helpful to do this. I also pray continuously through the meal. For example, the egg white omelette proved to be a HUGE challenge for me so I just told myself: “God cooked this omelette through that worker. It is the perfect, right, amazing amount for my body. God is good, I am good, this omelette is good. Nothing about this is wrong. It is all perfect and from Him. I choose to trust God, I choose to trust my N, I choose freedom.”
- Stay present and taste the food. This is the hardest for me and something I am working on now. But even if it is just for first few bites allow yourself to taste and maybe even enjoy the food. It is okay. Food is something to be enjoyed…plus if you don’t taste it you will never know if you like it…and trust me…your N will make you keep facing it until you taste it anyway haha.
- Which brings me to something that is CRUCIAL in my opinion. Continue to face the food. I know my personality is to just face the food and check it off my list..the problem with that is (at least in my experience) you don’t get rid of the fear then. The item (at least temporarily) should become a regular part of your intake. That way it becomes natural and normal to have and honestly the more times you do it….the less scary it gets.
- Oh and one more thing I am just now learning….Let yourself face it even if not planned. These past few days I have had craving for my freedom foods even though me and my N didn’t choose for me to face those specific ones this week. But I have come to the realization that by denying myself the right to have the food…well that’s just a form of restricting and just increases the fear. Plus why not do it when I actually WANT to instead of when someone is making me. It’s hard to do, but trust me it’s much more enjoyable..and the freedom is so much greater.
I have also seen in the past few days some old behaviors I used to engage in that weren’t helpful at all and held me back from experiencing freedom that comes from facing the fear these foods may bring. I haven’t done these things in my latest attempts to face the foods…and I think that has made all the difference.
· Ignore other cravings that come up: I used to make sure that on days I had to face fear foods I planned it out and rigidly stuck to a safer menu. Here is the problem I have found with that…it prevents any freedom from coming. Instead, eating the freedom foods only becomes okay if everything else is safe…thus there isn’t any new freedom…just new restrictions.
- Plan your whole day around the food: I know I said to have a plan FOR THE MEAL….but I used to agonizingly plan my whole entire day out around the food. It took an hour just to plan out the one day and the whole time ED was in control basically trying to “balance out” the “good” and “bad” foods. ED said it was okay because my N had said that everything would balance out…ED was right…that is what she said…that everything would balance out…what she didn’t say was I had to balance everything out. That’s not freedom…and it takes away any enjoyment or freedom eating the food brings. And trust me it doesn’t make it easier because you are never being “balanced enough.” And there isn’t any “good” or “bad” its all just food and it all can fit into your plan J
- Wait for the “right” day: I used to NEVER allow myself to face a fear spur of the moment or multiple foods on the same day because I felt I was doing “good enough” by facing the one or two assigned. I figured I would wait for a “better day” to face the other foods. Again this is just ED trying to be compensatory for the fact you ate one of his forbidden foods. In essence…it’s another kind of restriction. By DENYING yourself a food you are craving because you are eating a fear food you are DENYING yourself true freedom. And then if you find out you shouldn’t fear that food it becomes okay to eat it as long as you don’t eat other certain things with it…basically more restrictions added on.
- Compensate in any way Again…anything you do to “compensate” for something (which is a good thing for you to do despite what ED is saying) ED will just use against you later. It will just become a new thing you HAVE to do anytime you eat this food. It will stand in the way of true freedom.
- Look up the details Numbers may have guided us for a long time…but they guided us back to ED…so trust me, save yourself the headache, and let whatever motivation you have (for me God and my passion for ED work in the future) to steer you away from looking up the numbers and into blind and complete trust. This trust will bring you freedom J
- Focus on the future Be in and enjoy the moment…allow yourself to taste the food. Try to not let your mind wander to what this food may or may not do…and if it does wander there DO NOT ENGAGE. It may seem helpful to try and rationalize how it won’t do whatever it ED is saying it will..but trust me this leads to a tailspin. What I have found helps instead is just repeating a phrase like…I choose trust or a bible verse or something and to bring myself back to the moment.
Basically what I have learned with facing the freedom foods and honestly just with this recovery journey in general is in order to learn I can trust my body I need to actually trust it. That means honoring hunger and cravings. It means not coming up with excuses to not face fears, but just facing them in the moment. I have started to just tell myself that if I am wanting to do something in recovery, it’s God telling me it’s right timing and so I just need to do it and He will see me through. I figure the scarier it is to do, the more freedom can be gained from doing it.
Trust me it’s not easy at all. I have had panic attacks and it’s been uncomfortable, but I’ve been doing it. Just eating what I want regardless of if it seems “right.” Reality is..it is right because it isn’t restricting, it’s in my meal plan, and it’s what I want. It’s right because God is telling me to do it. And only by clinging to God and that truth have I been able to push through. This is the life I want…..one where I can trust and learn I can eat whatever I want and it will all be okay. That is only going to come if I do it. So it’s been scary, but with the help of God I survived…in fact (most of the time) when I finished and relied on God to push me through the fear I felt proud and, dare I say, EXCITED.
Facing freedom foods this new way where it’s about the experience and not about it being right or planned out or even my weight being in a comfortable place or not going up (which it needs to do anyway because I am on weight gain) ….it’s been much more positive experience, scary, but also much more positive. I just take the day as it is, the freedom food as it is, and practice trust not control…again it’s practice and I have a lot more practice to do. It’s so much scarier, but also so much more amazing this way. …especially when you learn there may be fear, but God is stronger and that fear need not hold you back. And I know one day I will see AND ACCEPT there is nothing to fear.