Recovery is a Process

Lately, I’ve been struggling more with my body image. It’s something I need to take time to surrender to God, but there are also issues I need to address.

My tendency is to be a chaotic eater. That’s where you want to be healthy, but live such a chaotic life that in the moment of ravenous hunger, you settle for whatever is closest and most readily available (fast food is a popular one). I also zone out with my food. I’ll be eating away and look down to realize it’s “suddenly” gone.

When my body image and eating issues start getting out of hand, I go to the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Their book has helped me tremendously in working through my emotional eating.

Lately, I’ve found myself fearing the idea of not having enough food or being left hungry. I think it may be because at my job I work at the front desk and don’t have the freedom to move around the building like my coworkers. If I have a need, oftentimes I have to put it off because of my responsibilities at the front. This could lead to me feeling trapped, so when it is time to eat, I feel like I have to over eat since I don’t know when my next opportunity will be. This is just a guess because I’ve been ignoring what I’ve been doing for a while.

Like the title of this blog says, recovery is a process. There’s no magic wand to swoop in and fix your problems. It’s a walk with God where you feel your pain, bring it to Him, and work through the pieces He brings to your attention. God is good to gently guide us through recovery one step at a time. I went through the Intuitive Eating book one time and experienced a release of food guilt that I’d been carrying around for a very long time. I think this time through, I’ll develop new and healthy habits when it comes to eating and food choice.

I’m excited about the possibilities, but am aware the process is not oftentimes easy. Eating is so tied in to our emotions on a subconscious level. I understand that my eating patterns serve as coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, boredom, and twisted ideas of pleasure.

So, here we go into the recovery process with food!

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Eating at Thanksgiving

For someone working towards being an intuitive eater, special events can really throw us off. Normally, you may not have a bunch of candy lying around just waiting to be subconsciously eaten, but during Halloween, it’s everywhere… and someone needs to finish it. Birthdays, well normally you wouldn’t have cake and ice cream around, but it’s there and you don’t want other people to feel uncomfortable about you not eating it. And here we are with Thanksgiving.

Such a glorious time of year with changing leaves (in some parts of our country), cooler weather, nostalgia from our younger days, family, friends, and… food. FOOD. That’s what it’s all about, right? The food. Turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever else you please topped with homemade gravy. Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, broccoli and rice, cranberry sauce, rolls, cookies, cake, PIE! And the social trend of bragging on the fatigue of overeating due to the volume of holiday foods begging to be placed on your plate.

How does a subconscious, chaotic eater resist?

Let’s take the focus off of the food and the people pleasing. What’s left of the Thanksgiving holiday? Think for a moment about where you’re going for Thanksgiving. And this is not meant to make people depressed. Don’t overthink it. I know there are plenty of family problems we could focus on right now or the dread of being somewhere full of triggers for some codependency episodes, but think of generalities right now. Think about the name, “Thanksgiving.” What does it mean to you?

Think about the attitude of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans at the time they celebrated the first Thanksgiving. What was it like? Why were they thankful? So much so that they came back the next year and the next to remember?

Why else would one go to Thanksgiving? Who will be there? Is there someone you’re looking forward to seeing? Is there something you can contribute that would take the focus away from merely sitting down and overeating? Maybe you could designate yourself as the family photographer, the dish cleaner (everyone would love you), or a leader in getting some games started. Switch it up this year. Instead of going with the thought of what you will receive, think about what you could give.

I know holidays are not easy. It is often big, overwhelming crowds, people you haven’t seen in forever, football (zzz), and food. Food at a holiday can be a nice little friend to keep your mind distracted from the social anxiety that is sure to creep up in a setting such as this. However, I believe this year is well worth the try of something new. Think about the feeling you will have of not being sick over your meal and of being a giver. How many people can you bless at Thanksgiving that maybe really need it?

Be prayerful about this Thanksgiving. Ask God if there’s anything He would like you to contribute, along with the food you’ll be bringing. Stay in connection with God throughout Thanksgiving Day and ask Him where the needs are. When you’re gathering food at the designated, official meal time of the day, get everything you want, but just a little bit of it. I guarantee doing that will still give you more than you can handle! Enjoy the food and listen to your body. Do I like the way this tastes? What is it about the texture that I like? Do I not like this? Then, after you’ve eaten half, ask yourself, Can I taste this anymore? Or am I just eating to eat? Stay in the present. Trust your body and stop when you’re satisfied.

Then, go engage with some family members. My family likes to go on Thanksgiving walks. 😀 And Pray!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Solution to Chaotic Eating

Routine in the chaos.

After realizing I had fallen into a chaotic eating routine, I evaluated my schedule and thought of ways to help stop the feeling of desperation and starvation that comes from long bouts of no food.

I planned snacks ahead of time and brought them to work. These snacks had plenty of protein in them to help push me through to the next meal. Also, even though I knew I wouldn’t be receiving an official meal break, I brought a meal anyways. I’d bring my work phone with me into the staff kitchen and would eat a couple of mouthfuls at a time. The important thing about eating intuitively, is being present. I would make myself pause and think about what I was eating. Did I like it? What didn’t I like about it? What were the flavors? This causes you to be in the present moment with your food and to not stress eat.

By bringing protein-oriented snacks and forcing myself to take mini breaks to complete one meal, I was able to kick that desperate feeling that drives even the healthiest desires through the drive-thru at the end of a work day. It takes some discipline upfront, but it’s worth it.

Work is important to pay the bills, but your mental and physical health are important, as well. It’s hard to do the best you can with a fuzzy mind and fatigued body. Although it might be looked down upon in your busy schedule to stop for a meal or a snack, ultimately, your work team will appreciate it because you will be able to operate at your best. Your body will also thank you because it won’t be operating under potential starvation mode.

The Perils of Chaotic Eating

To all my chaotic eating friends, welcome.

If you don’t know if you’re a chaotic eater, let me give a quick definition for you. Chaotic eating is not to be confused with the greater issue of stress eating. While it does involve your emotions, chaotic eating comes from a lack of routine.

If you have busy days with long hours, you probably have a good idea of where I’m coming from. This year, my job has been demanding with a lack of breaks for meals or a time frame of when work begins and ends. A day can turn into eight hours of constant movement and putting out of fires. This is sabotage for a recovering chaotic eater.

Here’s a look into my worst day: I wake up for work and I’m running late. There’s hardly enough time to get ready, much less think about breakfast. I sacrifice coffee and breakfast for time to get out of the door and into the car for work. I arrive at work and get everything set up for the day. My boss arrives, we have our morning meeting, and I’m in my chair beginning the daily checklist of responsibilities. The phone is ringing, people are giving me projects, and I’m slowly accomplishing my normal tasks in the background of all the distractions. A few hours into work, it dawns on me that I have not had anything to drink or eat since I woke up.

I make myself some coffee, get some water, and regret not bringing anything from home to eat. I settle for a cookie from our waiting area in the office. So, by mid-morning, my body is running on sugar and caffeine.

The day runs long and my mind begins to fade. We don’t have breaks due to the work schedule. I feel fatigued due to lack of food and a small headache is forming. Thoughts of what I’m going to eat when I get home creep through my mind.

As the end of the work day nears, I’m desperately hungry. Anything will do at this point. I can’t think straight. I’m starving and now thinking of crispy, crunchy, salty things. And I need them now. I’m too tired to cook and I don’t think I can wait to eat by the time I get home. I’ll die.

I finally get out of work and speedily head towards my car. I’m on my way home but am now famished. Forget cooking, forget waiting until I get home – that fast food place looks pretty good. I’ll just grab a snack to help me make it to dinner… or, I’ll get the combo with a Dr. Pepper, thank you very much.

I receive my crispy, crunchy, salty food gift I’d been dreaming about at work and shove it in my mouth. I’m halfway done by the time I get back on the road. As I arrive home, I’m stuffed, feel disgusting, and can hardly remember what I ate.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is chaotic eating.

Part Two: My Solution to a Very Specific Problem

“Because I Wanted One” Cookies

When it comes to being an intuitive eater, the holidays can be especially difficult. Part of it is from our own struggles, but another factor is peer pressure. While you are working on replacing negative food connotations in your head with a neutral outlook, others are still trapped in the good food/bad food mentality.

For example, cookies are bad for you because they are a dessert, have sugar, chocolate, potentially multiple forms of fat in them (you’ll probably gain 20 pounds overnight from eating one)… while salad is good, because it has vegetation in it.

I struggled with feeling guilty for eating food since high school. I could never just eat something for the pleasure of it. Getting fat haunted me and new forms of diets were a way of life (surprise that none of them ever stuck).

These cookies are symbolic of my determination to become an intuitive eater. There’s always a tinge of guilt when I eat candy because, in my mind, it’s a “bad food.” Not anymore! I took my favorite candy, Almond Joy, and made them into a cookie. Why? Because I like Almond Joys, I like cookies, and when I have the inkling to eat one… I’m not going to deprive myself.

For the rest of this holiday season, practice challenging negative, rigid beliefs that come into your head about food. Listen to your body’s signals and go with them, “whether they are biological, pleasure-based, or self-protective.” (Intuitive Eating, pg. 105) 

 

“Because I Wanted One” Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
2 cups oil (coconut)
2-3 eggs
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp of almond extract
1 tsp salt
1 cup of coconut
2 oz of almonds, crushed
24 oz Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped

Directions:

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In a big bowl, combine sugar, coconut oil, and almond extract. Mix the ingredients together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to thoroughly mix.

 

 

 

 

 

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Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture. Stir well with gumption and endurance.

 

 

 

 

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Blend in the coconut. Form into 3/4″ balls and roll in sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2″ apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
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Let Cool.
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Melt 24oz of Ghirardelli chocolate baking bar in the microwave (30 seconds at a time; stir in between). Add the chopped almonds to the melted chocolate.
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Dip the cookies halfway into the chocolate and place on wax paper.

Clean as you go.

Intuitive Eating Exercise: Start a food journal.

“Sometimes simply noting the time of day and what you ate can give you some interesting clues about what drives your eating. Or note your thoughts before and after you eat. Do they affect how you feel? Does how you feel affect how you behave or eat? If so, how? Consider this one big experiment, not a tool for judgment.” –Intuitive Eating, pg. 102