Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Choosing The Unbeaten Path

As part of my "intuitive eating" goal, I've been thinking a lot about the foods I used to eat pre-eating disorder in an attempt to get back in touch with the foods I genuinely enjoy. Of course, taste buds change over time (cold hot dogs no longer appeal!) but some of my old favourites still stand. A recent conversation with Lee also got me thinking about foods I ate in the depths of my eating disorder- not necessarily "disordered" foods per se, but in the context of my diet at the time, they certainly were. I shy away from these foods now because they remind me of a time when I was actively trying to destroy myself, and no matter how much I might still enjoy them, I can't shake off what they represent to me these days.

This has sparked a whole load of thoughts about the strong links between food and emotions, I think everyone can probably name certain foods that they see as comforting or that evoke certain memories (good or bad) and it's difficult to break away from that and see the food for all that it is, because it represents so much more.

Back to the intuitive eating goal, I am finding it really difficult to even KNOW what I enjoy eating. Taste, texture, etc- I am only now starting to rediscover my likes and dislikes and am trying to stay in the present moment and see it as "just a snack/meal" without thinking further into the last time I ate it/what else I ate that day/where I was in my disorder (or recovery) at the time. It's really HARD!

But, I think it ultimately comes down to CHOICE. I didn't choose to get sick, but I have choices now whether I push these memories aside and make new ones, whether I allow these memories/fears to dictate my choices or if I acknowledge the fear, bite the bullet and EAT IT ANYWAY. regardless of how I might feel during or after, regardless of what I ate for breakfast this time last year, regardless of whether it's raining/my ankle hurts/it's winter.

Recovery is a choice. A choice I have to consciously make, countless times every day. Each time my body sends me a signal saying it needs fuel/rest/exercise. Each time a thought pops into my head about calories, weight or the desire to fall headfirst into anorexia. I need to remind myself that I am CHOOSING to make healthy choices. It's not easy by any means and I can only hope that in time it will get easier.

I see it like this: imagine walking through a forest. You are walking down a beaten down path because it seems the obvious route. You know that it's potentially dangerous and going in the completely wrong direction, but it's the easier option that starting the arduous task of beating down your OWN path which will be hard work, but end up where you want to be going. So you start beating down your own path and start hiking. You get tired, you stray to the other a few times- but the more skilled you get at maneuvering your way through the branches and trees, the easier it gets. The thrill you then start getting from making a brand new path starts to outweigh the short-term benefit of the old path. Initially you need to really FORCE yourself to stick with your goal destination and keep ploughing down the trees...but over time, the old path holds no appeal.

So tell me: what path are you taking today, and what steps are you taking towards your destination?

On to pictures... :)

My beloved Bare Naked fruit and nut granola (I LOVE this stuff but can't get it in the UK so am rationing my sole bag for a once-a-week thing) with microwaved apple and fage...ah...

And, snackity-snack. I actually had a different bar in my hand, camera posed, then realised I wanted vanilla almond goodness! This is my LAST Luna sunrise bar- and damn, it was good! Things taste so much better when it's the specific thing you WANT!

And another collage I found whilst unpacking:

This is actually tiny (fits in my purse). I made it a few years ago when I was on a day program and struggling a lot- it opens up and on the left-hand side has a list of the "cons" of recovery and on the right-hand side is the "pros". I know it's important to focus on the "pros" but I also think it's important to recognise that anorexia has served a certain purpose for me, and it would be naive of me to just ignore that and pretend it isn't there. Because the cons DO exist (hence the ambivalence towards recovery for most sufferers at one point or another) and I think it's vital to look at and address these. As long as the pros outweigh the cons, it's all good :)


Anonymous said...

That's my absolute FAVORITE bar EVER! I buy them by the box, no lie!

Lauryn said...

ellie this is a beautifully-written, inspiring post. i am getting back to the basics in terms of intuitive eating, and i love how you likened all of this to a conscious choice down the path we want to travel on -- i so agree. thanks for sharing all of this, i needed it! xoxox

Anonymous said...

hey! i love your blog! i have been working with intuitive eating lately and thinking a lot about what i used to eat before my eating disorder. i actually have started a list of things i can remember liking a lot. it helps a lot to think back on.. i think because i didn't even worry about the calories or anything back then. i want to be that way again. hm maybe i'll do a post on this later. i hope you have a good day!! :)

ps. thats a good analogy. have you ever read eating in the light of the moon?? i think you'd like it. it's filled w/ analogies. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I will have to try that bar!
You are so right, it was not our choice to have an ED, but it is our choice to recover. It is our choice to not listen to the thoughts. It is hard, but so worth it. I love your idea of living in the moment--it's just this meal...
I love your path story. Beautifully written.
Thanks for the oats idea...I bought some oatmeal and cinnamon today, we already have bananas and pb. We have some Kashi cinnamon honey instant oatmeal, so I figured I that would be good!
Keep up the great work!
Also, I can relate to just not knowing what I want to eat anymore.
One more thing...in recovery, the pros ALWAYS outweight the cons.

amy. said...

Ellie I loveee what you wrote. Wow, I feel the exact same way in regards to not being able to eat some foods I associate with my "ed diet". I was literally thinking about that exact issue on my walk to class today. How the taste, the packaging, the smell...it's just, ed. Ugh. Thats okay, thankfully most of those foods suck!!!!!!!

I love your collage...its very beautiful, meaningful, and symbolic. We did something similar in my edu also.

choice--its what determines everything. you are so right !

lots of love, and don't cry over silly me!

<3 amy

Anonymous said...

good job for choosing to get healthy!

delicious eats!!

Pammy said...

Thursday. Thursday we should have our Odwalla bars! I really love this post. It is so inspiring. You are such a talented writer. You are doing great with eating intuitively. Keep it up!

Thinspired said...

Why does intuitive eating have to be so difficult, right?! I love the idea of it, it sounds so easy. In practice it is so much harder. Best of luck on your path today, Ellie!