Dieting after an eating disorder
Usually, when I hear or see the word "diet" I physically or mentally run.
It's been several years since I've been under the thumb of an eating disorder but like with any addiction, it's something I always face. There are always challenges.
The difference is I've healed in so many ways. I've learned how to deal with the challenges that arise and how to avoid toxic activities. One of those toxic activities is dieting.
I used to monitor, count and judge every calorie that entered my body. And if it was above the number I deemed acceptable (which was ridiculously low) I would be overwhelmed by self-hatred that led to purging. Those patterns have been created in my mind.
Once we create patterns, as you well know, it's hard to break them. Habits are programmed into our brain and it takes hard work and determination to reprogram them to something different. Like creating a new path in the woods. It's easier to take the established path but takes time, patience and determination to develop a new one.
I've created a new one. Every therapy session, every yoga practice and every skeleton I faced from my closet made the new path stronger. But that old path is still developed and invites me to take it. Which is why I avoid things like diets. It's too close to that path.
I'm doing a diet.
I was hesitant to do this because the very word diet makes me cringe.
I think about where I've been. I think about horrible pictures of scales and too-big jeans like the one below. But the intentions that led me to this decision are very unlike the intentions that led me into the downward spiral of addiction.
Diet isn't a bad word. I have just assigned a negative meaning to it. Diet literally means the food you feed yourself. It doesn't equate to shrinking.
And not all programs are about "Losing 5 pounds in 5 days" or "Getting rid of the muffin top" or whatever ridiculous marketing language latches on to people's body insecurities and lures them into their empty promises.
This isn't about shrinking; This is about self-study. This isn't fueled by self-hate; This is fueled by self-love and a desire to feel good. Puppies good.
It's called the Elimination Diet. (I know. That name sounds like a red flag.)
If you're not familiar, an Elimination Diet takes common allergens out of your diet for a period of time — typically 30 days — and then gradually reintroduces the food to see how your body reacts. In non-science terms, it takes your body about 30 days to get those allergens out of your body. So once they are completely gone you can reintroduce them and clearly see how they affect you.
This isn't a new fad. This is a diet often prescribed by doctors, nutritionists and allergen specialists. It's actually more effective than expensive testing. Turns out, we know our bodies better than labs.
There will be no calorie counting or tracking. The focus is less on my external body and more on what's going on inside — how I feel. This diet demands self-awareness.
I can't believe I'm saying this but I'm excited about this diet. I've been having some stomach and skin issues (I'm almost 30 — shouldn't I be over this acne?) as well as some face swelling on mornings after I eat an indulgent meal out. My body is talking to me and I've been ignoring it because dieting was just not an option.
What was once a healthy way to avoid taking the wrong path became a stubborn way to avoid feeling my best. I'm excited to have a better understanding of my body and why it's telling me it doesn't like what I'm putting in it ... and pinpointing what those things are so I can treat it better. I'm getting over the word "diet" and I'm proud of myself for feeling strong enough and far enough separated from Ana and Mia to embark on this.
I realize this is a long post about what may seem like just a silly diet.
But this is a big deal for me.
I've given this a lot of careful consideration before deciding to do it. I can't think of a reward that would be worth the cost of getting back on that previously programmed trail I have steered so far away from.
Because my intentions are so vastly different, I'm confident that trail is still distant.
I want to end on an important note, especially for the eating disorder warriors who visit this page. I'm not a psychologist or a nutritionist or a doctor. I can only speak from my own experiences. So if you found this post because you want to diet and you've struggled with an eating disorder my advice would be to check your intention and run it by your therapist. If you don't see a therapist run it by a close friend or family member who knows your background and knows you. Nobody knows you better than yourself but it is helpful to gain insight from someone on the outside looking in. Don't sacrifice your mental health for your physical health.