In this post I am talking only from personal experience and my views may not be the same as other people. Everyone has different experiences and I hope that maybe with this post I can help someone who identifies with some of my issues.
I am lucky in that I have never developed full Anorexia, but I binge and restrict and it does take over my life at times. Eating disorders can be extremely frustrating.
Growing up I was always happy with my weight as I did a lot of sport so always stayed in good shape. Once I left school my weight would yo-yo and I was a lot more sensitive to people’s comments and diet obsessions. When I was 18 I put on a bit of weight and my boyfriend at the time commented on it and said ‘Nobody wants a fat girlfriend’… thanks. When we broke up I lost a lot of weight, looked hot as hell and flaunted it when I next saw him at a party. I thought that getting super skinny would make me happier but he didn’t really bat an eyelid and the self-conscious feelings came back.
My eating became a real problem last year when I got sober. Because of the amount of alcohol I had been drinking and take aways that I’d been bingeing on, I was very puffy and swollen so as soon as I stopped drinking the weight just dropped off. In the first two weeks of not drinking I lost a stone in weight. By the time I was a year sober I had lost 4 stone and was looking quite skeletal and people were raising concerns. My therapists kept a close eye on me whilst I was losing weight and trying to make me eat properly, go to specific meetings and do food diaries. But like with any other addiction I refused to admit I had a problem so ignored it all.
My binge eating started when I was drinking heavily. I would live off takeaways and biscuits. No matter how full I was, I couldn’t stop eating and if I got to the point of passing out in a food/drunk coma then I would go back to it for breakfast the next day, even eating it out of the bin. When I got sober I was craving sugar the whole time because I wasn’t getting it from alcohol so wherever I went I had a packet of minstrels with me and within seconds the whole bag (one of the sharing bags..!) would be gone. I ate on feelings a lot of the time, sometimes in the hope of making myself feel better or sometimes to make me feel worse or feel anything at all if I was really depressed. I always felt guilty and fat afterwards. One thing I have never done through eating (drinking, the whole time) was purging, aka making myself sick. I hate sick anyways and I also didn’t want to waste the food..! Bizarre I know!
My restricting started when I was a few months sober and the weight was dropping off me naturally. I was trying to eat more healthily and not eating take aways so I would eat less than normal but that quickly turned in to not eating at all. I started off by skipping breakfast and making sure I was at an early morning meeting before my parents were up to know that I wasn’t eating. At the meetings no-one was to know that I hadn’t eaten so I got away with it. If my parents were up I would tell them I would have breakfast with everyone after the meeting. On weekends they would practically force feed me breakfast. At therapy I would have lunch with everyone most of the time but gradually my lunches would get smaller and smaller then I would make excuses of why I couldn’t stay for lunch so they wouldn’t make me eat. In the evenings my Mumma would cook supper for me and Puppa, if I didn’t want to eat I would make sure that I went to an evening meeting and get home late and maybe pick at what was left if they were still up. Gradually I would go days without food, was constantly dizzy and shaky. Often when I went days without eating I would then end up bingeing big time on anything I could find, feel guilty and disgusted with myself and so the cycle would start again.
I have now accepted that, yes, I have an eating disorder. I am quite resistant to going to meetings still and like to think I can fix it myself but I at least talk about it with others so that I’m staying open and honest. I can now tell when my ED head is taking over and I can force myself to eat something healthy instead of not eating at all or bingeing on whatever is in sight. I am more gentle on myself now, I will have a take away if I actually want one, but usually when I am in the company of others so I can be more mindful about the amount I am eating and I’m really practicing on putting my knife and fork down when I am feeling comfortably full. I will eat whatever I like now as one meal isn’t going to kill me, but I have to keep myself in check and make sure I don’t go back to the habit of eating unhealthily everyday.
When I am having a restricting day but know I need to eat, I have some simple ‘go-to’s’ that I feel are safe and will give me all the nutrition I need. Here are a few of my safety dishes that I want to share with you if you’re struggling also at the moment.
Porridge with mixed berries.
CoYo (Or normal yoghurt) with honey and berries
Courgette, Cheddar and Mixed Seed Muffins
Makes 24ish mini muffins, 10-12 normal muffins
1 x Courgette, Grated
1 x 100g pack Ground Almonds
50g Cheddar Cheese – Grated
1 tbsp of each seed – linseed, pumpkinseed, sunflower seed, white and black sesame seed etc etc
2 x Eggs
Preheat oven to 180c. Prepare a muffin try by putting half a teaspoon of coconut oil in each and put in the oven to heat up and melt.
In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together adding the eggs last. Put a tablespoon in each muffin mould for mini muffins or two tablespoons in normal muffins.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch. Eat with a salad and mixed grains.
You can also substitute the courgette for other vegetables. I like using sweet potato sometimes but make sure you roast them before adding to the mix so that are soft.
Chicken and Mixed Grain Salad:
2 x joint of your choice of chicken per person, I prefer the thighs.
Mixed dried herbs
1 x pack Gourmet Merchant Mixed Grains
50g Sun-dried Tomatoes, chopped roughly
100g Feta Cheese
6 Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
Handful of Rocket
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 200c.
On a roasting tray place the chicken joints of your choice, drizzle them with a little oil and sprinkle on dried herbs, salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes or until the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer or knife.
In a bowl mix together the mixed grains, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, mixed seeds, rocket and dress with lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Panfried Salmon with Mixed Grains and Sweet Potato Chips
2 x Salmon Fillets
1 x Packet Gourmet Merchant Mixed Grains
1-2 Sweet Potatoes (depending on size), cut in to chunks
Couple of Sprigs of Thyme
Ginger, chopped finely
Garlic, chopped finely
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 200c.
Peel and cut up your sweet potatoes, place them on a baking tray, drizzle with a little sunflower Oil, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.
Whilst the sweet potatoes are cooking, soften the garlic and ginger in a little coconut oil in a saucepan. Once softened add the mixed grains, stir well and break up all the clumps. Add a few dashes of soy sauce.
Whilst the sweet potatoes and mixed grains are cooking, put a frying pan on to a high heat with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, put the salmon fillets in, skin side down for 5 minutes. Once the skin is starting to crisp, turn over to cook the flesh side for another 5 minutes or so, until almost cooked. Flip the fillets over one last time and fry until the skin is completely crisp.
Serve all together with a handful of salad.
Stuffed Munchkin Pumpkins
1 x Munchkin Pumpkin (or any other small variety)
2-3 tbsp Couscous
Thumb sized Carrot, Leek and Onion, all chopped finely.
Handful of grated Cheddar
Salt and Pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Chop the Pumpkin down the middle and scoop out all of the seeds.
Pour boiling water on to the couscous and leave to cook and soften for 5 minutes. You can put it in the microwave to speed the process up if needed, but only for a minute or so. Once the couscous is ready, mix in all the other ingredients, holding back a little cheddar.
Stuff the couscous mix in to the pumpkin’s cavities and make sure you push down firmly so you can get as much in as possible. Sprinkle the last of the cheddar over the top and bake for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft and the cheese is nice and golden.
Serve with the salmon above or the chicken above and some salad.
I hope these have been some help, they help me at least! Good luck, happy cooking and keep on keeping on.