Facing up to my “foody fears” meant eating more of the foods I loved on a regular basis… like flapjacks.
I still remember in recovery from anorexia I could. not. wait for the day I could finally take cakes and desserts out of my meal-plan.
So it seems phenomenal to be able to stand here today baking pretty much weekly, and definitely having chocolate every day, cake on the regular… oh and of course, big fruity flapjacks, without the anxiety and panic attacks, relapses or fear.
But it hasn’t been an easy road to get to a place of calm, and enjoyment, around food.
recovery meant I had to replace Fear with calmness.
fear has no place in a healthy life, but flapjacks definitely do.
T H I S P O S T
In order to help many of you who will resonate with these struggles, I wanted to share how I transitioned from a place of obsession and fear, to realising that a healthy diet could includes more
Cake than Kale;
More pizza than salad
Hot Chocolates in replace of herbal teas
That Guilt free brownies are in fact any brownie I choose to eat
…and most importantly ,…
That flapjacks are definitely friends NOT “fear foods”
Anxiety is temporary and you control its proliferation, or rationalisation, through your choice of response
CONFLICT IN RECOVERY
Being on and off clinical surveillance, endless weight-gain and maintenance diets, had very important clinical purposes when I was ill, but the process was quite damaging to my relationship with food.
I had created associations with certain food items, times of eating, portion sizes etc…that were then, In my mind, for “weight restoration” and therefore lead to weight gain.
Then when I was at a “healthy weight” I feared eating these foods.
I wouldn’t touch them.
Just being around them caused me panic, I was stuck in rigid calorie counting patterns, anything that wasn’t a “diet food” surely had no place in a “healthy” diet… so anorexia told me.
Recovery felt like I was in a constant state of cognitive distance, that is, my thoughts and behaviours were very inconsistent, hypercritical.
One part longing to be free from preoccupation, fear, obsession; the other half was stuck distrusting my body, suppressing its cravings.
T H E P R O B L E M
You can’t be striving for your eating disorders “goals” whilst trying to move forward to recovery.
The two do not work in harmony.
But I was so worried that if I gave into my cravings, if I honoured my hunger, I would just overeat. That this would become a never ending pattern of behaviour that I’d never escape from.
These rigid rules and fear-filled beliefs only applied to me.
If anyone else were to have a slice of cake, get dessert or eat flapjacks, it was ok for them.
For their body.
They weren’t “out of control”
I didn’t view them as bad, or good; unhealthy, or any other of the things I’d criticise myself.
In my eyes, they were just care free, and enjoying life.
And I was jealous.
How come every-time I tried to be “normal” it ended in swarms of intense fear, panic and guilt?! “
So I devised a solution, and it came in the form of the social media influenced “protein” hype.
“If I bake my favourite flapjacks (and other bakes) using Protein powder they’ll be “healthier”, I’ll chuck in some fancy “superfoods” and the guilt and shame would vanish.
If I overeat on them it didn’t matter right?”
It was like this “magical” ingredient could do no wrong.
In Psychology we have a word for this… Avoidance (…and denial)
What I actually wanted most (my favourite flapjacks and a large slab of banana bread) I wasn’t allowing myself, so I was never truly satisfied. I was trying to convince myself, and those around me, that I was ok.
Trying to make it more “socially acceptable” for me to eat the foods I wanted, and appease my eating disorder.
C O N S E Q U E N C E S
On numerous occasions this lead to a frenzy of over eating on these “healthy alternatives”.
Or developing an “all or nothing” mindset, the “fuck it” effect, (actual term for it I promise) when foods I actually wanted became readily available, I’d eat as much as I could, far past fullness, before banning them again; disgusted at myself, and creating the common chaotic cycle of binge-restrict so many find themselves battling.
I felt I was just confirming all my eating disorder thoughts and fears:
“You’re losing control without anorexia”, “You’re greedy” , “You can’t be trusted around food”
I’d come up against another twist in the road of recovery and something had to change.
That something was me.
A willingness to confront struggles and bring the light of self-awareness into the situation has ALWAYS pushed me forward in recovery
DEVELOPING SELF AWARENESS
Mission “Science and Discovery” mode.
This is what I have named the next stage, because you have to be your own scientist, discovering your own anxieties, triggers, ways to cope.
It wasn’t easy but anything that I felt was sparking the “I can’t control” or “this is bad” feelings I did more of.
We can think of it as a self-administered exposure therapy.
By repeatedly exposing yourself to the situations that make you anxious, and “doing” the things you fear (e.g mindfully eating certain foods without purging behaviours… exercise, laxatives, vomiting..) you can challenge the underlying beliefs, and show yourself you can cope, you can trust yourself.
You Can and…
N O T H I N G . B A D. H A P P E N S.
Fear, panic, anxiety exist within your mind, and you have the power to override it
Your brain is the control centre for your entire body.
So you can carry on eating as much kale and “sugar free” dessert as you like, but if you haven’t sorted out the stuff in your head your body will still be unhealthy
You will open up your mental and social world:
More memories are made.
You gain more freedom & choice.
More Self confidence
The feather-weight of having a brighter life outweighed the “weight”, and burden, of fear and criticism that years of disordered eating placed on my heart
Your body is FOR you not AGAINST you.
OVER TO YOU
If each time you try reaching for a flapjack your head starts waving big red flags saying “NO”
I give you unlimited permission to stick a big “F U” middle finger right back at it!
Fear has NO place in a happy life…but Flapjacks do
Find this recipe and more over on “Nourish”