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WIAW #3: Define “Recovered”

Happy WIAW!

What I Ate Wednesday Button

This weekend was the sort of weekend I spent chasing my metabolism.

wile_e_coyote_and_road_runner_wallpaper-29519I wasn’t bonking when I woke up on Sunday. Some mornings and I wake up and I’m bonking. (“Bonking,” btw, is a word my mom stole from the sports world to refer to being really, really hungry to the point of being unable to function–which can happen to she and I both quite suddenly.) But not on Sunday. I got up at quarter to 9–which is very late for me–made myself some leisurely French toast with leftover homemade bread, boiled up a few frozen strawberries and sugar for an easy, inexpensive syrup, and then I read some blogs.

DSCN0397When Michelle (the roommate) got up about quarter til eleven, I was starting to get kind of peckish, so, since I’ve been trying to re-introduce GOS, I dutifully counted out 20 almonds and snacked on those while we chatted.

DSCN0402But I was still kind of peckish, so I figured that, despite the late breakfast, it might not be a bad idea to eat some lunch, so I had some quick Greek-style pasta salad I’d thrown together a couple nights before, topped with some smoked salmon…

DSCN0399and worked on an internship application, but I was still hungry. So I ate an orange.

DSCN0404By that time it was close to 2, and I finally felt pretty satisfied and figured I’d be good until supper. I did some grading for a bit, until Michelle came out and mentioned something about going to the grocery store, at which point I remembered I needed to refill my prescription, which meant I needed to run to the grocery store, even though I’d been planning to hold out for a few more days. But before I left at 4:30, I realized I was quite hungry. Again! I gave up on holding out until supper and broke into some peanut butter and rice cakes with carrots on the side. The peanut butter, I thought, would surely tame my hunger for a few hours.

DSCN0405Not so. When I got home I already was hungry enough for supper and almost immediately started cooking, remaking these marvelous low-FODMAP veggie burgers from the new cookbook I won from Kate Scarlata. This is the second time I’ve made them–the flavor and texture are divine, and they pair marvelously with some spicy low-FODMAP coleslaw I invented to go with them.

DSCN0408And at this point, I was starting to feel a bit anxious. After supper, I did finally feel quite full–unsurprising, given all the veggies, fiber, and protein. But I had eaten every two hours or fewer–six times–in only about nine hours’ time. And that scared me.

I hate feeling full. Everyone’s experience with eating disorder is different; I’ve read and heard a lot stories of folks with eating disorders who became obsessed with the number on the scale, or a place on the body with undesired fat, or a piece of clothing, or some other thing by which they measured their success, which also becomes, as you can imagine, a major trigger for relapse in recovery. When I had anorexia, I actually didn’t weigh myself that often. But I was obsessed with the physical sensation of fullness vs. the sensation of hunger.

I lived to feel hungry. The so-hungry-you-feel-sick-and-lightheaded-and-your-stomach-is-cramping kind of hungry; it was thrilling. It made me feel badass and strong. Whereas feeling full meant I was a failure, hadn’t been working hard enough, might get fatter….Feeling full meant I might not be the person I wanted to be.

The irony is that my anorexic former self would have loved to have a hungry day like the one I had on Sunday. If she had been able to recognize the more subtle signs of hunger (which is a big ‘if’), she would have been thrilled to have an appetite at meal times–and even between them! Hunger meant permission to eat. And at the point when my body was starving, eating was ironically all I wanted to do. But only with “permission.”

Even now, I quite prefer feeling hungry to feeling full. Feeling hungry still means, at some barely conscious level, that I’m a good person. But, when those IBS symptoms start to kick in, I often blame myself and what I ate.

It had been a fairly early supper for me, so at about 8, I started to feel hungry again, and decided to try to experiment with a mug cake recipe.

It did not turn out. At all. It tasted about as good as it looked.

DSCN0409So then at 10, I was still hungry, and went for a little lactose-free chocolate ice cream. Which tasted considerably better than it looks in this photo.

DSCN0411At that point, I felt crummy again. Which left me sitting there analyzing: was a really hungry? What if I wasn’t really hungry? Maybe it was just my brain playing tricks on me. Maybe I’m eating emotionally. Maybe I’m a failure who can’t get her life together and so all she does is eat to cope with her problems.

As opposed to thinking, “Huh. I’ve been pretty hungry today. It’s too bad I have to deal with IBS on days when I’m really hungry.” At least, that’s what I tried to tell myself. I’m not entirely sure I was persuaded.

I went out for a walk in the snow before bed to let my brain spin out a bit. I’m pretty bad at mindfulness, but I do know myself well enough to know that a little movement and fresh air will help me sleep.

On Monday, “Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops” published an interesting little post about being “In a relationship with recovery…and it’s complicated.” I like that notion of being “in a relationship” with recovery. It’s a committed relationship…but we’re two separate people, and we have our good days and our bad days. In many ways, I’m a different person than my anorexic self was. And in some ways I’m not.

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  1. Ellie says:

    Some days I’m hungry at all times too. It is weird, especially when I don’t have a snack, it is also annoying. However, using my body and brain requires fuel so rather than overanalyze it, it try to enjoy it. I made simple blueberry syrup today to top my ugali (basically blueberries mixed with maple syrup) and it was quite delicious. You make me want French toast. I love stuffed French toast with PB&J. Nothing says lazy Sunday like stuffed French toast.
    I hope you have a good day tomorrow 🙂

  2. I can definitely relate to all of these complicated emotions associated with recovery. The back and forth between guilt and satisfaction. It’s dreadful sometimes. I used to absolutely hate feeling full as well. I thought I’d NEVER be okay with it. And then one day…I was. I also never though full recovery was possible. But I’m nothing out of the ordinary, no special case. Just a girl who really did find balance. Keep fighting beautiful. You’re getting there.

  3. Erin says:

    I’ve totally been here before! Sometimes it seems like it’s impossible to keep up with our metabolism, but it’s a sign that our body is working properly!

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks–it is certainly a blessing! In fact, I get almost more weirded out on days when I’m not that hungry.

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