On food. Again. Part 2.
Back in December I shared my continuing struggles with food and the truth I started owning about my disordered relationship with food/eating. For the past 6+ months I have've been working through that with both a psychiatrist and a therapist.
It's a S........L........O........W process.
Like SO slow.
The psychiatrist tried two different meds that he thought might help. (They didn't and so we dropped them.) And in therapy we've mostly been in that "getting to know you" phase that takes a while. But more recently, we've started working through and naming some of my actual issues and behaviors surrounding food that are disordered. Rituals, negative thinking cycles, compulsions, emotional deficits/payoffs. To be transparent, admitting some of these things out loud made me feel more naked than having my feet in the stirrups with the big magnifying lamp down there, if you ladies get what I mean.
I'd like to tell you that now that I've named these things I am now on the right track, and I am losing weight like crazy, and I am feeling great about myself! Except that's not where I am. In fact, it's kind of been the opposite. In the past year I gained back the 46 lbs I lost, and gained 11 more. And a good deal of that has been during the past 6 months while I've been in therapy. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, eh?
But, strangely I feel like I *might* be starting to get somewhere.
So a few weeks ago my therapist and I decided that we were going to add a dietician to my team. And so, I made an appointment and did the intake paperwork. I started keeping my food log that would be required for her to peruse. That actually helped me lose about 8 lbs over the past two weeks only because I knew she'd be looking at it and I didn't want her to think poorly of me-- you know, I wanted her to think I only normally eat 1600 calories a day and that I am just big boned. (And big boobed, of course.) (PS- I feel pretty SURE she was fooled by my plan.)
During the intake paperwork, I wondered what kind of a plan would she put me on. Would I go back to low carb? Low fat? Mediterranean? Would I have to start with some "quick start" week like I did with every diet I'd ever tried from Deal-a-Meal to Weight Watchers to Keto? Oh man, those are hell weeks. Starving all the time. But seeing quick results would give me a boost. And I knew that if I put my mind to whatever plan she recommended, I could lose some weight. And so I reasoned that is what I would do. And maybe, if I am lucky, and we find the right plan, maybe it would work this time.
There was one question on the eating disorder survey I had to fill out that said something like, "How certain do you feel you will be successful with this attempt at recovery?" The choices were "Very confident, somewhat confident, neither confident nor unconfident, somewhat unconfident, and very unconfident." On the one hand, considering nothing had worked before, I felt very unconfident. But trying a new approach made me feel slightly confident, so in the end I checked, "Neither confident nor unconfident." It's the best I could come up with.
Today was my first appointment. It wasn't anything that I expected it would be. I figured I would get weighed and measured. We'd do labs so we could see my cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, thyroid, etc. We'd set a small goal initially, and then we'd talk about a final goal later. I'd learn about the food plan. And I would leave with a shopping list. (That's how it's always worked before.)
Instead, very much like at my therapist, she said something like, "Tell me why you made this appointment today." And we went from there. We talked for about 30 minutes.
We talked about my history with food and dieting. We talked about my struggles with body image. We talked about what I've been eating. We talked about binge eating. We talked about food not having a moral value to it. She talked to me about biological hunger and emotional hunger and explained the differences. She talked to me about a hunger scale.
And she said we're going to start at the beginning. Well, actually before the beginning. And that it's going to be a long journey. We will have to work to unlearn everything I have spent at least 30 years teaching myself by yoyo dieting and restricting/binging cycles. So, at this point, we're not going to count calories. We're not going to count grams of fat. We're not going to weigh or measure. (Neither myself nor my food.)
We're simply going to start with the idea that all food is neutral. There are no bad foods or good foods. At this point, the only thing we are working with/documenting is (biological) hunger and fullness, and trying to figure out how to tune into that. Our goal is NOT weight loss. Our goal is a healthy and ordered relationship with food.
Guys... THIS EXCITES ME AND ALSO TERRIFIES ME A LITTLE BIT.
Why? I don't know. It's not as if what I have been doing for the past 30 years has worked. But I still have this worry that whispers, "But what if you just haven't found the right diet yet?"
Here's the other place my brain goes--my brain thinks I can beat the system. If there are no "bad foods" and no "good foods" then I can choose whatever I want right now. And so, that means I can choose ALL "good foods" (which, even though there aren't good and bad foods on this plan, we all know which foods really ARE the good ones) and speed up the process, right? And then see how fast I will be able to lose weight? Except, oh right, weight loss, for ONCE, isn't the goal and there are no short-cuts.
I walked out of the office feeling strangely hopeful. Because what if I really can reprogram my relationship with food. What if it's not always a battle? What if I can start to really grow in this area? What if I can heal? What if my relationship with food/my body isn't a life sentence of misery? I have never really entertained this idea.
These are all currently just a list of what ifs. Since I am writing this in real time, I have no idea what this journey looks like next week or month or year or decade. But I feel the slightest shift inside of me that makes me think that graduating from "Neither confident nor unconfident" to "slightly confident" could be a possibility.
I guess we'll see.