Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Elements Of Choice

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the element of choice when it comes to eating disorders. It seems we are all in agreement that nobody CHOOSES to develop an eating disorder- things happen, consequences occur. Whatever the reasons behind developing an eating disorder (or ANY kind of illness), bottom line is that nobody opted to get into this situation. I have often wondered, "why me?" but that doesn't get me far- stuff happened and I dealt with it as best as I could. I didn't make a conscious decision to develop anorexia, the same way people don't choose to get sick for other reasons, but I think eating disorders are different in that you can choose recovery. Not easily- wanting it doesn't make it suddenly any easier. I feel like I am having to choose recovery over anorexia several times a day- I hope it gets easier until there is no internal battle going on and healthy choices come more naturally, but right now it's a constant "anorexia V recovery" battle going on in my head.

Something that is helping me right now is seeing the difference between "can't" and "won't". For YEARS I have avoided doing things because I felt I "couldn't"- there was no question about it. It just wasn't something I could manage doing. Changing the wording to "won't" feels empowering because all of a sudden, I am back in the driving seat- I am CHOOSING not to, which immediately gives me the option of choosing TO do whatever it is. "I can't eat suchandsuch a food/can't do X without doing Y"- switching it to, "I WON'T do xxx" then forces me to question what's stopping me, and making me question/challenge what it is I am choosing to do/not to do.

Thoughts on this?..

Onto food...

I CHOSE to cook last night :)

Butter beans in tomato sauce with mashed potato and steamed spinach. This was a recipe given to me years ago in treatment for when I went on a home visit for the weekend- I 've made it a lot over the years and it seems to be something I gravitate towards when I've been struggling but feel ready to take on the challenge of making a "proper" home-cooked meal. I LOVE beans in any way/shape/form- anyone got some easy bean recipes they would recommend?

Except with breakfast, because I love my breakfast foods :)

Oats mixed with vanilla extract and fromage frais, on top of frozen blueberries and white chocolate wonder peanut butter. Left to defrost/soak overnight and mixed together this morning. I'll spare you the picture of the 'mess' that greeted me this morning, but rest assured it tasted great!

Hope everyone is having a good week so far!


itsawrapteacher said...

Interesting post. I think we do have some control over what we choose to deprive ourselves of and the extent of how much we want to recover. But I also think there is some chemical imbalance in our brains that controls our thoughts and feelings as well. Does that make sense?

Cacti Don't Cry said...

That is a good point about changing the wording from "can't" to "won't" -- for the power of suggestion, if nothing else. Even if it really DOES seem like you can't do something, saying instead that you won't do it shows that you have the power to do things differently.

I'm also a bean lover... prepare for an epic Facebook message ;)

<3 <3

Natalia said...

ellie i love this post.

you're aboslutely right about recovery being something that is possible but ed trying to tell us that we can't instead of won't.
it's something i've been struggling with for the past couple years and am just beginning to realize that i'm making excuse after excuse when i have the ability to be healthy while others don't. it's a shame and obviously recovery isn't easy or fun but in the end we need to realize that health is something to be savored and delicately treasured.
good luck today- you're an amazing girl

Anonymous said...

Recovery is certainly a choice - not an easy one by any means, but I really do think you have to want it...otherwise, it's just too easy to fall back down again. This is coming from personal experience.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing the same thing with changing the way I talk to myself. I've found that it's important to apply the can't/won't thing to the other side of recovery too - instead of thinking 'argh I don't want to eat lunch but I HAVE to', I tell myself that I don't have to, it's the eating disorder that doesn't want to and I am choosing to eat it anyway. It really does take the power away from thoughts like that.

BEANS!! I love beans :) One thing that I do very frequently is put half a can of beans (haricot, adzuki or chickpeas were really well) in a bowl with some onion, mushrooms, tomato puree, whatever other veg I'm feeling like, maybe some nut butter, herbs and spices - whizz it all up with a hand blender, stick it in the oven and cook it for about half an hour at 200. It's like a sort of bean burger/nut roast...thing. Very nice though!

Anonymous said...

That's where the difficulty with recovery lies--the fact what we do get to make the choice between recovery and anorexia. And that's why we feel like such failures because we have such control over the disease. We're choosing between comfort and discomfort and I think we all know what we would perfer.
But, you have it right, it's important tot keep reminding ourselves that by choosing recovery, we are choosing healthy choices, and what is wrong with being healthy?
Love the thoughts on can't and won't.
I had the Oat bar you sent me yesterday as a midnight snack! So good!
Take care!

Telstaar said...

I like what you wrote Ellie and I like Katie's extension of it also.

I find the trick I have is that I get so so angry with myself when I don't just start doing what I think I should be doing, right now. Sometimes, for me, its easier to blame the eating disorder and take control back and soemtimes its easier for me to realise that I have some control still. I guess it just depends on my frame of mind.

It's a big topic though. I love the most that even though multiple times a day you're having to choose recovery...you're STILL choosing recovery. That is SOOOOO cool :)

Love Telle xo

Syd said...

I do my best to not use the words I can't. I really can do a lot of things but as you indicated, I may not want to do them.

Stef said...

I thought those blueberries were black beans! But then I read your caption..yum! I agree, changing your mindset from "can't" to "won't" IS empowering. I think you nailed it when you said you have to CHOOSE recovery every day..it's a constant struggle but it gives me hope to know that we CAN and WILL choose recovery! But I also agree with Yasmin, the element of willpower/choice only goes so far...there is definitely a biological reason why simply willing ourselves to recover doesn't happen easily!

Anonymous said...

I definitely see what you're saying in this post, and I completely believe that you have to WANT recovery and make the choice to actually see it come through. Obviously something happens along the way that causes us to have such negative thoughts towards food/control and how it will affect us in the future, but we also have to mentally force ourselves to want recovery, or else we may only gain back physical health.

It's great you are reflecting on all this, I'm sure it's helping you grow more and more each day! :)

Lexi said...

Great post, babe. I also find myself trying to distinguish between can't and won't. I don't have any food intollerances so there really is nothing that I CAN'T eat. Ed has just convinced me that I can't eat it, and in turn, I won't. Thanks for raising this question. Really made me think.
Beautiful eats too, by the way! xoxo