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Baby Steps

March 6, 2014

Weight LossFat HealthEating DisordersMy Boring-Ass LifeDiet Talk

Trigger warning: Detailed discussion of disordered eating.

yogurtI have been reading the progress of Shaunta and her Eating the Food experiment and it has inspired me to my own experiment.

My experiment has been nothing so structured as hers, which is partly why I haven’t written about it yet. Also, I fail more than I succeed so far.

Because of my past (being starved as a child and early teens, then starving myself by dieting from early teens to my late thirties), I just don’t think about eating. I usually get one full meal in a day when I make brunner for my husband (brunner means whichever meal he can eat either before or after work, depending on which shift he’s working that month). On his days off, we will usually have two meals and then he’ll snack on other things throughout the day.

I know it isn’t healthy to get the vast majority of my calories in one meal. Yes, I do a little bit of snacking, but it’s not often. And usually I don’t go for the nutritionally-dense food when I snack because all of the sudden my blood sugar drops and I need something now, of course.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to eat at least two meals a day. I know even that’s not enough, but it’s baby steps here. And as I said above, I’m “failing” more than I’m succeeding.

I have noticed that on the days when I do remember to have two meals, and sometimes even nutritious snacks, I have so much more energy to do things. Lately, when I forget an early day meal, I’m tired, I need a nap, and I’m headachy all day. When I remember to eat anything that is nutritionally dense in the morning — leftovers from the previous day’s brunner; a scrambled egg; a homemade wrap with avocado, tomato, and lettuce in it — my day goes much better.

So, you’d think it would be easy for me to remember.

I’ve developed strategies for eating more than once a day, even: have simple foods ready so I don’t have to prepare something just for myself; hard boil a few eggs once a week so I can just grab one or two when even making a wrap is too hard.

At the present, I have a batch of homemade yogurt in the refrigerator, and presliced strawberries waiting for me to combine them (with a few nuts). I have the makings for a veggie wrap. I have a few hard-boiled eggs.

Most of the time, I don’t remember any of them. Most of the time, when the minor hunger pains hit, I ignore it. And so, most of that food ends up being thrown away because it’s gone bad.

It’s hard for me to get rid of the internalized messages: you don’t deserve to take up any space, you are fat and fat people shouldn’t eat, starving yourself is the only way to be healthy when you are fat. I know none of these are right. I write about how size does not equal health or lack of it all the time. I’ve written about how eating appropriately is a form of self-care.

Yet, in the two months I’ve been trying to eat more, eat even just two meals a day, I haven’t been able to get there more than maybe a third of the time. It’s progress, yes.

Baby steps. I have to continue to remind myself that I didn’t get to disordered eating habits in one day. It took many years for me to get to this point. Even with everything I’ve learned from Health at Every Size®, the ingrained habits of neglecting myself, and actively trying to starve myself, are not going to go away overnight.

I look forward to the day that I am eating two meals a day consistently, along with various healthy snacks. But right now, I’m not to that point. Right now, I still have to constantly remind myself to eat more than once a day.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2014 12:31 pm

    This used to be my pattern of eating as well (and for the same reasons) until I had to have my gallbladder taken out. Apparently the gallbladder was designed for helping the body deal with just such a famine-then-feast style of eating. But without it I have to spread my eating throughout the day or deal with horrible stomach pains and really nasty bowel symptoms.

    I wouldn’t recommend gallbladder removal as a cure for disordered eating. 🙂 Having to do this has not been easy at all, and I don’t manage it anywhere near as well as I’d like to yet. I’ve also been reading Shaunta’s ETF posts and have realized that I don’t eat nearly enough to support my body.

    Anyway…I guess there’s not a real point to this comment, except to say that I resonate with what you’re saying and you’re not alone in the journey. Self-care is a struggle.

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      March 8, 2014 6:31 pm

      Self-care is a struggle, but I’m working on doing it better. Or something.

  2. March 6, 2014 12:34 pm

    I love this post. (Oh, and I’ve been following Shaunta’s project, too.)

  3. March 6, 2014 12:42 pm

    It’s hard to erase that “I shouldn’t eat I don’t deserve it I’m terrible” tape. Keep at it!

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      March 8, 2014 6:32 pm

      Thank you. Working at it. I suppose at some point I should bring this up to my counselor. He’s been so good at helping me to “rewrite the code” I got from the way I grew up, maybe he can really help with this.

  4. Twistie permalink
    March 6, 2014 2:08 pm

    Remember, every step in the right direction is progress. Even getting to the point where you eat two meals a day a third of the time is moving in the direction you want to go, no matter how imperfectly.

    It’s also good to remember that you are far from alone. Most of the time I do remember to eat and do make an effort, but there are times when I get distracted or depressed or just wafty and Mr. Twistie comes home after a long day of work to find me curled in a little ball shaking and confused and really, really bad tempered because I haven’t eaten anything in twelve hours and my blood sugar has gone completely through the floor. Then I feel stupid and on top of that I feel guilty because he has to find a quick way to get food into me while I’m alternating between misery and fury from lack of food in a house with a well-stocked kitchen full of quality ingredients, excellent cookware, and fifty gazillion cookbooks as well as all the experience I have as a cook.

    One of my projects for the year is keeping that from happening more than once a month. I didn’t do so well in January (three incidents), but February went more or less to plan. Keep your fingers crossed for me for March.

    • Elizabeth permalink
      March 7, 2014 9:34 am

      This is why it is so helpful to have an observant person around! It is so easy with low blood sugar to not be able to think clearly and fix the problem. I know many HAES advocates don’t seem to think regularity of mealtimes is important, but I do. For years I ate two meals a day and at erratic times. Now I eat three meals a day at fairly consistent times, and am far less likely to end up with low blood sugar, though my adrenal exhaustion predisposes me to it.

      I think I should be very thankful I never thought I didn’t deserve to eat, even though my mother deprived me of food in adolescence.

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      March 8, 2014 6:35 pm

      *fingers crossed*

      I actually made two days in a row of eating more than 1 time per day. Then the dog became sick, and I had to take her to the vet today. Since it’s a Saturday, we had to go to the Vet ER, and that took almost asl ong as it takes for human ERs. Of course, I didn’t eat before taking her to the vet…

  5. Caprice permalink
    March 7, 2014 12:43 pm

    This is such a good post. It made me think about my own efforts and how long it has taken me. It helps to see that I’m not alone.

    Two years ago I bought Ellyn Satter’s book “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook” and it has helped me immensely. I keep it on my Kindle and dip into it often. It reminds me to eat more often and to offer myself a variety at each meal if possible. Ellyn says to offer your children 3 scheduled meals and 2 sit down snacks daily. My children are all grown but I’m just as important! Usually I have a late breakfast, lunch about 3 hours later, afternoon coffee break and dinner. When I started I was doing two meals a day and it took me over a year to separate from brunch to breakfast and lunch. Recently I added the afternoon snack and sometimes I even have a bedtime snack!

    I feel much better. I am more able to eat what I am hungry for and stop when I want. My insulin resistance seems to be decreasing as I have had to reduce the amount of insulin I use. I don’t have as many lows or highs. I haven’t gained or lost weight. I have more energy but there are other things going on in my life that may contribute to that.

    All I can tell you is that, for me, it has been worthwhile. I’d like to know how it works out for you.

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      March 8, 2014 6:38 pm

      Getting to eating a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack is my idea of nirvana. I hope, one day to get there. I will look into the book, thank you for the recommendation!

  6. March 8, 2014 6:19 pm

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    Since having to adapt to a low-carbohydrate (under 200 G a day) eating plan to control my blood sugar levels, I often don’t feel hungry. I have to eat approximately every six hours to avoid blood sugar spikes. Many people don’t know this, but starvation causes blood sugar spikes in diabetics. A person’s liver releases its glycogen stores when their body needs nourishment but they don’t eat. A diabetic’s liver releases too much.
    I’ve had such a fucked up relationship with food for my entire life. Its hard for me not to praise myself for starving.
    I know that the real key in the development of diabetes is having the gene for it, but sometimes I wonder if my screwed up eating habits and yo-yo dieting didn’t somehow contribute to its onset.

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