Trigger warning: Eating disorders, bulimia. *** I also want to talk about calories and weight ***
I’ve written a lot about my bulimia struggles and my ongoing journey with body image- but I haven’t actually spoken much about the methods I used to overcome my eating disorder and stop acting on my compulsive behaviours.
If you haven’t read my other posts- in a nutshell, I had bulimia from the age of 15-19 (with a few relapses after) It was the classic cycle. My regular daily aim would be 1000 calories, 45 minutes of exercise and copious amounts of black coffee, cigarettes and Diet Coke to stave off hunger pangs. This would lead to binge/purge (laxatives, vomiting and exercise) cycles and horrible horrible side effects.
It took me a long time, a lot of support and a root canal from tooth decay to finally admit that I needed help- and one of the major steps that I had to take in my recovery was letting go of calories and learning to trust my body.
So I’m going to share a few steps I took towards intuitive eating.
(This is not the only thing that I did- but I’d like to break it down into several blogs)
Relinquish control of the numbers
There is nothing more addictive to my mindset than calorie control. I have used apps to monitor diet and exercise for as long as I can remember- and you could literally name any branded food and I could tell you the calorie content. I mean seriously, it’s quite a talent.
The danger with calorie counting comes for me during a binge. It would get to the point when I could consume up to 5000 calories in one go- and I wouldn’t stop because I had gone so far past my goal that there was no point.
However- during my recovery my main goal was to go one day eating without tracking what I had in a planner or an app. Even though I kept a log in my head, it was a step towards letting go of that obsessiveness and control.
It took a lot of work and eating out at first was literally terrifying to me- as I had to resist googling the calories on the menu…
But I thought of all the hours and brain space I was wasting on counting calories and it seemed like a fair trade off to have my life back.
Intuitive eating is listening to your body. If you’ve dieted or suffered an ED yourself you’ll probably have experienced hunger pangs at some point in your life.
Break the mindset that hunger pangs are success and realise that THEY ARE YOUR BODILY WAY TO TELL YOU TO EAT.
I try to never get to the point nowadays where I’m “totally hangry bitchy ravenous” and instead try to eat when I’m mildly hungry or my stomach is starting to gurgle.
It took a long time for my body to reset and to understand hunger cues, but with practice and perseverance your body will work it out.
Calories didn’t exist before the 1920’s and they don’t need to exist in your world either!
It’s ok to eat nice things
This was my biggest fear with intuitive eating. In Bodiposipanda’s book she shares the same concern that she’d go insane and eat donuts forever.
I thought the same about food- like I’d only ever eat crappy food for the rest of my life once I tried this method.
But she was right and so am I- your body will feel shitty and sluggish without healthy food occasionally.
Yes- Eat the damn donut. But yeah- also have some fruit or avocado on toast or nuts as well!
Put some faith in your body
I found it took (and still is taking) a long time to have faith and trust in my body and what I want to eat.
It’s tough when you’ve spent so lot punishing and hurting it to realise that actually, its main purpose is to keep you healthy and alive.
It takes a long time, a little faith and a lot of hard work- but it’s one of the most life changing things I’ve ever experienced.