Today I managed to accomplish something I thought I would never do. And I also came to a rather sobering realization. But before I get into all the details I'll start with a bit of background.
All of us have the fear food of all fear foods, the one thing that we just won't eat. It could even be a food we never really liked, and because it has a)no nutritional value or b) very high calorie/fat content we avoid it like the plague. Well I have a few foods like that but one of them is cheese cake. Never was a fan, but since having an ED it was the one thing I swore i would never eat again. I think the reasons are pretty obvious.
Another thing worth knowing is that I am still very controlling of my meals and times. If at all possible I like preparing my own food, and I like eating around certain times. I'm not SO rigid with the times, but I do like some form of structure to my eating schedule. And as far as preparing my own food, I don't TRUST other people to cook it in a healthy way. I know this is something I need to work on, and it is on my agenda, but since we can't tackle everything at once this is an issue that's been sort of on the "sidelines" of my recovery efforts.
Well today promised to be a normal weekend day. I woke up later then usual, made myself some oatmeal pancakes (haven't eaten pancakes in almost a year by the way, so this is quite the accomplishment :D)and relaxed for a bit. Decided that today was a good day to do some grocery shopping, so off I went. While out I get a phone call "We're planning a party for your brothers birthday, can you pick up some snacks." Automatically ED part of my brain kicks in "Uh oh, food! You will probably have to eat something you're not comfortable with, or you will be put in a awkward situation. Don't go, just say something came up and you can't come." But I refused to listen because I am sick and tired of hiding from food and social situations involving food. What kind of a wimp does that make me anyway? So I decided to go. Once I got to the house there was plenty of work to be done- games to be planned, decorations to be made, and a cake to be baked. Turns out the birthday cake was my dreaded cheesecake. At that point I really wanted to back out. Usually my family is pretty understanding about my food issues, but not always. I didn't want to ruin the party and create a scene, so I thought about making some excuse and leaving. After all, this sounded like more then I could handle. Chocolate covered cheesecake made by someone else at a time I wasn't used to eating. All my worst fears rolled into one. But I didn't back out. I decided that I was going to stay and eat the cheese cake, just to defy my ED and proe I could do it. I was worried all afternoon about it. Would I have a panic attack? Would I be flooded with such intense guilt that I couldn't stand it? What would happen?
Well the time came; we sang and cut the cake. Someone passed me a plate, I picked up a spoon and ate it. No panic, no guilt. The voices in my head were silent and I was SO HAPPY. To me this was another sign of improvement, because I could honestly say this would not have been possible just a few weeks ago. I was able to enjoy the party without feeling like an "outsider" because I had to avoid all the food. It was great.
Unfortunately right afterwards I became very nauseous. It could be because the cake was very "rich" and my body just wasn't able to handle all of the stuff in it. I managed a very bland, light dinner and felt better after a few hours. Although I'm still not a cheesecake fan and probably won't eat it much in the future, it was important that I could prove to myself that I could do it and it was nothing to be terrified of.
But then I sat down to think about my intake that day and realized that in all the hustle and bustle of the days preparations I had missed most of my snacks. I won't lie, it was partially because I was apprehensive of the whole "cake situation" so my appetite went down to zero. So I considered drinking my evening supplement, because I know my calorie intake was not enough. ED screamed in my ear "But you ate a chocolate topped cheese cake! You have no idea how many calories were in the piece you had. You don't need any more food." I struggled for a while, because deep inside there was that fear. You know, that illogical fear that you will gain 100 kgs overnight because you eat something slightly higher calorie then you're used to. But then I realized, no friggen' way was I going to let my ED steal this victory from me! If I were to skip my supplement I would be technically "restricting" to allow myself to eat a treat. And that is disordered. I would not allow my victory to be stolen. I wanted to defy my ED, and not reach a compromise with it. I know from experience you can't have a symbiotic relationship with a mental disorder. Eventually it will destroy you. So I got up, drank my supplement, and got back to my evenings activities. I KNOW I did the right thing.
I think it's just important for us to be careful that in our steps to recovery we don't take one step forward and two steps back. Don't eat a fear food and feel all proud of yourself, while going to the gym and working out harder then ever.Don't allow yourself a "rest day" and skip your meals or snacks. Don't let your ED steal your victories from you. This illness is very subtle and you can feel all proud of yourself for reaching a goal or mastering a challenge, while at the same time sabotaging your progress. This incident today made me more aware of how easy it was for something like this to happen to me, and how I need to learn to guard my victories more fiercely then ever. I don't want to live "in peace" with my ED, I want it OUT once and for all.