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WIAW: Eating a Lot (and How I Feel About It)

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that my metabolism is all revved up here at the YMCA of the Rockies. I walk most places I go, I’m on my feet most of the day at work, and I’m living at a high altitude. Bed making and toilet cleaning are tiring activities. Let me tell you.

I suppose I also shouldn’t be surprised that the additional calories thrown on top of my already quite snack-y diet scare me.

Extra calories have always scared me. Even when I was in the weight gain, meal-planning phase of eating disorder recovery, eating more than what was on my meal plan scared me (despite my therapist’s mantra, “The meal plan is the minimum.”)

Yes, I have moved away from meal planning and more into intuitive eating mode. But does it scare me to deviate from what I consider “normal?” Hell, yes, it does. Sharing some of these thoughts, and how I deal with them, for today’s What I Ate Wednesday.

Despite a full day of eating on Friday, I woke up Saturday to discover my phone (and provisional alarm clock) had died, and that I was intensely hungry. I got up and looked at the clock: 5:50. I could have gone to breakfast, but instead I dozed until 6:30.

My breakfast fall back has been oatmeal with raisins, but this morning, I discovered they had Cheerios, so I started the day with a large bowl full of one my favorite low-FODMAP cold cereals, accompanied by half a grapefruit and some vanilla soy milk.DSCN1258Is it weird how much I like Cheerios? I really like Cheerios.

Oh, and Yorkshire Red tea. Always.

I clocked into housekeeping at 8:15 and was sent running errands for the housekeeping guru. About 9, I munched a quick banana I had thrown into my bag the night before.DSCN1265And, only a few errands and what felt like very shortly later, I was headed down for lunch.

This is one of the many components of eating at the Y that makes me anxious: lunch time is 11 am. Should I eat a mid-morning snack, or should I skip it? If I get hungry at, say, 9:30, should I hold out? Should I eat a bigger lunch than I normally would because it’s early, or a small lunch than I normally would and plan for a mid-afternoon snack.

Why does eating early scare me? I guess it scares me to think I’ve eaten a large proportion of my day’s calories in the first part of the day, which makes me afraid I’ll eat more later.

Is that thinking disordered bullshit? Yes, it is. But I still think it.

Lunch Saturday morning was all wheat-and-dairy-rich options like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and meat loaf. So I crossed through the kitchen to the guest dining hall and got myself some bread for a gluten-free ham and cheese sandwich. Also grabbed some cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and blue cheese dressing to dip them in.DSCN1267After a couple hours of hanging curtains at the YMCA’s supposedly haunted Mountainside Lodge (or rather, figuring out which curtains would fit on which windows, an exhausting task), as well as inventorying the lodge’s kitchen supplies, I grabbed myself a Luna bar.DSCN1264I swear this isn’t the only kind I eat; it just happens to be the kind I’ve pictured on my blog the last couple of WIAWs.

On busy days in housekeeping, we often are given treats which I can’t eat (like some very delicious-looking donuts on Friday.) I’m not going to lie, the fact that I have an “excuse” not to indulge is sometimes a small comfort. Is that thought disordered bullshit? Totally.

But this afternoon, they had assorted Hershey’s candies. I can’t say no to a Reese’s peanut butter cup–and I have a hard time eating just one. So I had two.DSCN1273So what? I had two small pieces of candy after a hard day at work. Who cares? But two snacks in one afternoon is not “normal” for me. And so I got anxious. Again. Disordered bullshit.

I wasn’t very hungry for supper when I got off work, and I finally had enough energy to get out on a bit of a hike to Bible Point, which was lovely.DSCN1303Came back with appetite renewed for supper (but still stupidly anxious from those candies), and ate a supper meal of salad, Spanish rice, carnitas, hot sauce, and more blue cheese dressing. My camera got a little fogged up with the steam.DSCN1315I told myself I’d be done for the day. Nope. Got quite hungry in the evening, so, after making a short trip into town to make some phone calls (no cell signal here at the Y), I snacked on some Fritos I snagged from the dining hall. Didn’t get a good picture, though, because my camera was being weird.

Three full meals and four snacks in one day. It shouldn’t scare me–I know I need the energy–but it does scare me.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about eating disorder recovery, though, it’s that the thoughts may be frustrating, but at the end of the day, it’s the behavior that counts.

For instance, I’ve been very tempted in the last couple of days to start mentally adding up all the calories I’ve consumed. It not only increases my anxiety and takes me away from the beauty of the place where I’m living, but it’s frustrating because it feels like a step backwards.

But I’m proud to say that I haven’t let those thoughts stop me from taking care of my body. I didn’t deny myself food when I was hungry (excepting circumstances when it was inconvenient to eat), and I didn’t force myself to exercise even though I was tired. I’ve eaten small to moderate meals, due to my IBS, but I’ve also made it a point to snack and haven’t denied myself richer treats. I recognize that weight change would probably trigger some anxiety for me, but also that I need to trust my body to regulate my weight and keep me healthy. And when I do experience those anxious thoughts, I now have strategies for letting them go, like reading a book, talking to friends, writing this blog, and reminded myself all the reasons I chose recovery.DSCN1289What do you do to help relieve anxious thoughts?

When you take food photos, do you ever end up steaming up your camera lens?

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  1. Just being in a location like that with mountain air and all the activity seems like it would rev anyone’s appetite. Good for you for trying to listen to that and not to the voices that would have you think otherwise!

    1. Joyce says:

      Being active and out of doors is such a blessing!

  2. I’ve never struggled with an ED but I think you are so brave opening up about your struggles. I’m sure it’s such a tough journey you’re on and mental battles are always the hardest, I find. Stay strong, you’re amazing! That being said, your dinner.. ugh looks so good!

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Morgan! It was pretty good for cafeteria noms 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    It’s good that you recognize the thoughts are disordered and you fight them. Would you believe if I say the more you fight them and ignore them, the more they’ll go away? Because it’s so true. The more involved I became with the world around me the less the thoughts could find their way out.
    On a food note, that dinner looks soooo good! I love mixed dinners like that.

    1. Joyce says:

      I totally believe you that the more you fight them, the more they go away. Becoming involved in the world around me is exactly what has most helped me to recover. Glad you’ve gotten to a healthier place–I’ll do my best to follow in your example!

  4. Cora says:

    So much i could say (when do I not on your blog? Aha). For starters/most importantly, the fact that you were having all these feelings resurface, that you are being honest about them, and that you didn’t act upon them is pretty incredible. Im not sure I’m at that stage yet. I haven’t figured out how to not calorie count when the urge to comes (how!?!). I totally inderstand timing being a cause for anxiety. I’m having to eat lunch around 11/1130 now at work which has caused some definite consciouse effort. And the over thinking of “should I have snack then? Bigger lunch?” Etc is enough to drive you totally bonkers. Your eats look fabulous though and it doesn’t matter to our bodies what time it gets food – just as long as it does.
    Hope those nagging thoughts have lessened up for you.

    1. Joyce says:

      Cora–just the fact that you are allowing yourself to eat an earlier lunch is a big step! I think it’s awesome that you’re doing that, even though it’s challenging. As I’ve said in this post, the behavior is so much more important to the thoughts. I am confident you can get to a place where you can choose not to act on your anxious feelings–I know it because I read your blog and see how often you confess to eating through discomfort. Thanks as always for the encouraging words!

  5. Ellie says:

    I think by doing just what you did, processing your thoughts and seeing if they are rational is a huge thing for decreasing anxiety. Most times if I say what worries me out loud and it sounds ridiculous, it usually is and my anxiety goes down 🙂

    1. Joyce says:

      That’s a great strategy! I like it!

  6. It definitely sounds like you move a lot so I’m sure your metabolism is running high! Also, I love Cheerios too 😉 I bought some for my dad when he came to visit and I keep going by the pantry and grabbing a handful! haha

    1. Joyce says:

      Aren’t they a great little snack?

  7. Ah, now I want some Cherrios!!

  8. Diane Wahto says:

    Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? I want one–now! Not really, that would mean getting in the car and going to the store and I don’t want to do that.

    One thing I’ve learned about myself through TOPS is that I don’t need to be too obsessive about food. It helps if I’m doing something else, which I do quite often. If I were where you were in the mountains, I’m not sure I would think about food at all. Well, I probably would.

    While you’re climbing around a mountain this weekend, I’m going to be writing some poems and sending some to the KAC contest. Did you enter this year? You can’t imagine my shock, a pleasant one, to hear you name read as a winner last year.

    Have a good time on the mountain.

    1. Diane Wahto says:

      Well, I made a ton of errors in the previous post. That’s what I get for trying to do too many things at once. Anyway…don’t be too hard on me. I’m just glad you’re not grading my posts. 🙂

    2. Joyce says:

      Agreed completely–it was a really important step for me to realize that I needed to eat more in order to obsess less about food. When I wasn’t eating near enough, it was literally all I could think about. Now that I’m eating enough, it’s a lot easier to focus on the task at hand, the beautiful mountains, etc., and let the thoughts go.
      I’ll admit, I haven’t re-submitted to KAC. It seems a bit odd to submit now that I’m in CO. That reminds me, I need to update my resume to include that award. 🙂
      Good luck with all of your submissions!

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