It’s been close to three years since I started healing my 24-year relationship with bulimia. I’m just now ready to take a stab at creating a formal meal plan. When you sign-up for in-patient eating disorder treatment, they do this for you. When you choose to heal on your own, you have listen to your body and respond to its needs. This takes lots of practice.
No one is going to do it for you, except YOU. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’ll be the biggest commitment of your life.
The words ‘meal plan’ and ‘food plan’ are triggering for me. They take me back to many years of food journaling for weight loss- tracking portions, food intake and calories. I wanted to track my food so I could finally find a way to be thin. My healthy nutrition efforts always went back to the weight:
- 10 calories for a slice of gum
- chicken and broccoli for dinner
- ½ cup measured of brown rice
- today I was ‘good’
My food journals usually started when I was being ‘really bad’. I needed some accountability. You’re out of control! Look at yourself! I’d write down everything I ate, no matter what. Look at all the food you can consume in one day. You’re disgusting. I deserved to see the truth. The amount of ‘bad’ foods in my scribblings would wake me up and force me to ‘get back on track’ (another self-judgmental dieting phrase that sets me up for living in a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ world).
My food journaling was born out of fear for being fat, not out of love for my health. I had to begin somewhere in order to jolt myself out of an overeating cycle and tracking my food intake was usually the trick to shame me into new habits. I had to own what was written on the page.
In my mid-twenties I went to an Overeaters Anonymous annual all-day gathering. I watched a young girl speak behind a microphone. After holding up a large pair of her ‘before’ pants. She explained how her sponsor worked with her on a meal plan. She ate the same foods, without fail, every day for thirty consecutive days. I remember her saying there was one day when she hadn’t wanted to eat her peanut butter, rice cracker snack, but she forced herself so she could stick to the plan. Maybe she had been craving something else? I can’t remember, but I wanted to know ALL the details of what she had eaten, not just one of her snacks.
I wanted what she had, the map to freedom- willpower and a solid sense of direction.
If only someone could hand me a food plan and say, “Follow this. Don’t stray from what’s on this plan and you will lose all the weight you want.”
In hindsight, I understand that girl was just as wrapped up in the weight loss as she had been during the before part. Bringing in a loose-fitting pair of pants was an action that spoke volumes. I didn’t see how much I made food and exercise about weight loss until my own eating disorder recovery. I had to learn that if I was associating food and exercise with willpower, I was probably going after it the wrong way.
It took me years to stop judging myself. If I relapsed with a binge or a purge, if I overate a meal, I let it go. I stopped letting my behaviors make me feel worthless. I started celebrating the fact that I was investing time to see a therapist, that I was doing something different in hopes that I could finally make some real changes in my life.
Once the judgment started to fade, I had more time in my mind to focus on making peace with my body, my food and my emotions.
My mindless binges are long gone-when I overeat I’m present for every bite. I recently had a moment with Chocolate Covered Katie’s famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Recipe made with garbanzo beans. I didn’t consume as much as it would’ve been in the past, but it was enough to tell me I needed to check-in with myself. I was disappointed. Why am I still overeating after all of this time?
For months, I’ve been moving my body with hikes, weights and strength-training. I’ve created a MOVEMENT plan. My body was craving to stretch and I listened to the call. I recently added a 30-day Yoga routine with Dana Falsetti because her body looks like mine. She’s used Yoga to help her overcome binge eating disorder, the number one eating disorder in the country. I’m inspired by her vulnerability.
I can see and feel changes in my muscles, yet I wasn’t putting the same energy into my nutrition.
It was time to create a plan, the plan I had always wanted someone to fork over.
I’ve had Celiac Disease for over a decade so I’m a big fan of healthy, whole foods. I haven’t wanted to go back to eating ONLY healthy foods because in the past, this was my diet mentality. In recent years, I’ve learned to make room for all the once-forbidden foods (rice pasta, corn tortillas, chips, rice crackers and sweets). It’s been a relief to make ALL foods okay to eat in moderation, yet I know some of those choices haven’t been healthy enough to remain as staples in my diet.
My new nutritional plan had to be about my health, not my weight.
On a night when I had been sitting at my desk for hours and I wanted to crawl into bed, I opened up a Word Doc and titled it “CHOICES PLAN”. It’s loaded with 5 breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack choices. All the meal options are filled with a surplus of natural, organic, whole foods. Tea is sweetened with honey, sugar and dairy are to be carefully considered so those choices can be savored and my vitamins and supplements are a must.
I now have a go-to checklist to help me make quality choices. I’ve learned I had to create what works for me, not everyone else.
It’s been close to two weeks and I feel outstanding. I’m not feeling deprived. Last night I stopped off on my way home and bought three Tootsie pops to satisfy my sweet-tooth craving and today I begin again. There is no judgment. I’ve been healing my heart for quite some time and now it’s time to give my body some well-deserved TLC.
I would love to share my CHOICES PLAN with you! Just email me: whitney (at) whitneygale (dot) com