Content warning: Food, calories
I tried to do too much too soon in terms of eating. I wanted to dive in and tried to “eat normally” straight away and it was wildly unrealistic of me. This was a combination of my impatience and a lack of recognition that I genuinely have anorexia. Underneath it all I was convinced I could stop any time I wanted and that I was just attention seeking. When in fact I have serious issues with food, I know that now, and actually attention seeking is a valid reaction to my invalidating life experiences.
Yesterday I felt a huge emotional backlash to my attempts to eat normally on Thursday and Wednesday evening. I panicked all Thursday night, couldn’t sleep, and went online to join the gym.
The next day I planned to eat nothing and exercise all day to try to undo what I perceived as a huge mistake. I spent Friday morning at the gym and then headed to my occupational therapy appointment.
Thankfully I was able to be honest with her about what was going on for me. She suggested I not push myself so hard so early on. It had led to me feelng out of control and like I was binge eating. I let myself get too hungry between meals, and that and my body crying out for calories due to being starved for so long revealed a huge appetite. I felt this confirmed all my worst fears – that if I ate what I wanted to eat I wouldn’t be able to stop once I started and I would get enormous. In fact it’s likely that once I’m eating a normal amount regularly and I reach a healthy weight for my height, my appetite would reach a normal level too. I’ve never been overweight in my life, so why would that happen once I am consciously trying to have a healthy relationship with food?
My OT suggested as a plan to decide on a number of calories I could increase to initially, that was a bit higher but not so high I’d freak out and feel the need to restrict or exercise after in response. She also said to eat very frequently so that I don’t get too hungry before I eat so that I can eat without feeling the urge to binge. I don’t know if feeling too full is a problem or if it is literally just that I let myself get too hungry beforehand so that the full feeling is now associated with the urge to binge for that reason.
I’ve been on 600 calories a day for three months so I have planned to increase this initially to 800 a day building to 1000 in the near future and to eat little and often rather than pushing myself to eat things that look like meals/eating a larger amount in one go in the evening for ‘dinner’. I’m finding this hard because 800 simultaneously feels like too much and too little/too limiting. It feels like a lot because it is 200 more than I’ve been on and I’m very aware of the increase. It feels too limiting because it is still objectively a very low amount of calories a day, I am still hungry all the time and I don’t want to feel like this any more – restricted all the time, watching the clock for when I am allowed to eat, etc. It’s my 30th birthday weekend and I want to be able to have some cake, damnit, but I’m acutely aware of the risks now of trying to run before I can walk. If I eat cake today, will it jeopardise my recovery? Possibly. I have a higher chance of success if I take baby steps and accept the limitations for now. It won’t be the perfect birthday weekend but if I play it this way, I’m more likely to be eating that cake sooner than later and without the repercussions of relapsing and self loathing.