Saturday, November 27, 2010
Re-feeding has to be one of the most frustrating/confusing/mentally agonizing process I've ever had to go through. I've experienced in twice - once in IP and once at home. There were different factors in both these situations and ones that were similar. They are things I have come to accept as facts when it comes to re-feeding.
- Re-feeding is uncomfortable physically. I personally experienced a lot of pain and bloating for the first 2 months of the process. It isn't pleasant and it really makes you want to quit. But if you stick it out for just a little longer eventually things get better and the unpleasant symptoms go away.
- Re-feeding is anxiety provoking. You are constantly hit by thoughts like: "Am I eating too much?" "Is this binge eating?" "Will I gain 100 kgs from this one bite of food?" Although these thoughts seem very real at the moment, I know from experience that they are usually unfounded and pretty illogical. So I just sit them out and try to not let them influence my actions in a detrimental way.
- You will never feel you did everything 100% right with re-feeding. If you are working with a dietitian or in IP and have a set meal plan you will always feel the people in charge are doing something wrong, that the laws of nutrition magically apply to everyone else - just not you. If you are working on your own it's even harder. You CONSTANTLY second guess yourself and get hit with a lot of guilt.
I am currently working through re-feeding myself. I don't have the money at the moment to consult a dietitian, so I'm doing the best I can on my own. It's hard, and there are days I wonder if everything I do is going to back-fire on me some day. I used to struggle with a lot of guilt. This is mainly because in IP I was FORCED to eat. It was that or a feeding tube. So I could sort of justify it in my head and say "Well, I'd have to eat anyways, I might as well get it over with". Also, I knew I couldn't leave till I reached a certain weight. So I ate, while mentally rebelling against it the whole time.
Now things are different. The process is definitely slower, but I feel it's more long lasting. I feel the need to gain weight and eat properly not because I am FORCED to, but because I WANT to. It's a personal choice. This makes is harder for my ED thoughts to cope with, but it is better in the long run because I am pushing myself harder to overcome these thoughts as opposed to just pushing them aside. I am learning to ENJOY food and the process of eating. It's odd that something so basic has to be practically re-learned from scratch, but that's just how it is. And I've accepted that.
I've also accepted the fact that I can't be perfect at recovery/re-feeding, just as I can't be perfect at other aspects of my life. There are some days I eat too little, or have the wrong "balance" of foods.Other days I eat too much, or eat something that affects my body in a negative way. But that's ok. I never promised anyone perfection, I only promised I would do my best. And I am doing my best.
Something that has really helped me was the concept of intuitive eating. I've mentioned this before, but it really did open my eyes to the fact that my body generally knows what it needs more then my mind does. Sure, I still have to do my part to make sure it's balanced (as in if all I'm craving all day is veggies it's probably a good idea for me to eat something else). But it's so liberating to be able to say "I feel like eating a ....(fill in the blank with pretty much anything)" and just eat it without it being a big deal. And I know it's ok because it's what my body wanted and generally my body wants something for a reason. It's really a comforting knowledge.
Of course I think the concept of intuitive eating needs to be applied only to a certain extent during re-feeding. I personally need to force myself to eat sometimes, even if I don't feel like it, just so I can gain. If I were to "listen to my body 100%" I probably wouldn't eat that extra little bit of food. They say ideally you should stop eating when you are 80% full. I stop at 100%. I eat things I don't particularly feel like eating, because I know it's necessary for me right now.
And I struggle with this. I feel like I'm somehow "betraying" my body by forcing it into eating. I fear I will develop unhealthy habits which will make me keep gaining weight my whole life. And this is what I struggle most with at the moment.
Any personal experiences/thoughts you can share on my dilemma?