Weetabix x 2.
White toast x 2, butter.
Corned beef and tomato sandwich (malted grain), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Chocolate sponge and chocolate custard.
Salmon fishcakes with parsley sauce, boiled potatoes, garden peas.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
Neon yellow. The colour I now get out of bed hunting for in the morning…
I’m aware that opening statement, standing alone, makes no sense. All should become clear; let me explain…
Highlighters – the adult’s answer to creative play-time! I remember back at college, looking for any opportunity to spot an ‘important’ word or two, so my highlighting fairy could twirl it’s neon-coloured wand at any monochrome piece of work.
It meant flicking through that black and white wad of text-smothered pages, those ‘must-remember’ details danced in a rave. They’d wave their glow-sticks for your undivided attention. It’s about as wild as teachers allowed their students to be.
Appreciating the little things… whoever invented those fluorescent little felt-tip pens is a genius. For me, being a stationery geek, self-confessed perfectionist and colour-fanatic, it became the best bit about doing work. Like decorating a cake… the bit where you get to roam creatively free after following the ‘rule-book’ that EVERYONE follows for the baking bit.
For me, it made revision time become slightly more bearable. Quite exciting actually at times – my inner-geek confesses. It depends how many colours you’ve got on the go on the page. They made my eyes want to find the colours – the emphasised details to remember. Drawing chunky, pink cloud bubbles around titles, creating a rainbow-outfit of a spider-diagram….
I should probably put this into context. What does this have to do with Anorexia? My recovery?
The weekly meal plan. Seven days scribbled in biro. (I say scribbled as if I can make the meal-plan decisions in a jiffy. Well, it’s getting better. This was the first week I didn’t re-write my copy out 2 or 3 times. I didn’t allow Anorexia to keep persuading me to change my mind)
Every food item that presents currently as more of a mental ‘struggle’ (notice I’m still refraining from using the word ‘ch*llenge’ to describe perfectly normal, tasty foods…) I highlight in yellow. (or pink if the yellow’s run out obvs…)
Those foods that have become ‘safer’ since repeatedly choosing them, after starting out as one of those more ‘mentally difficult’… become demoted to a neon-yellow underline. They no longer need the full spotlight. To be honest it feels quite satisfying and rewarding noticing this transformation of how much highlighter certain foods get when it comes to meal-planning. It’s a reminder to me of my progress with my approach to making food choices.
Like roast potatoes, biscuits, white toast, Rice Krispies for example. They’re all no longer quite as bright or present as threatening. Now just an underline. But they’re just as tasty.
Today’s nomination for the highlighter was: ‘Chocolate sponge and chocolate custard’. This is the substantial pudding option I tend to always avoid. Because Anorexia’s rule when I first approached the meal-plans was ‘I must always choose the dessert with the ‘fruitiest’ description.’ But today, being weigh-day tomorrow it then comes into conflict with another worry of mine… about having a hot meal AND substantial pudding so late on. Which is completely ridiculous as it would have no impact on the number tomorrow. And now I KNOW I am 10000000% focused on my end goal, why would that be so much of a problem anyway?
But to be fair, it just became an opportunity to power through a ‘different’ pudding choice. One which sparks habitual fear, more than ACTUAL fear…
…and it turns out that just because it’s a big fear, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best thing I’ve ever tasted either. Which made it a bit more difficult for Anorexia. When eating it because it was just ‘OK’ and my Eating Disorder saw all those calories wasted, down the drain, by tasting something apparently so ‘indulgent’ yet not amazingly enjoyable. The most indulgent of the two pudding options. But reality is… sometimes food HAS to just be ‘OK’. Because a reminder to unhealthy thoughts – food does NOT exist as a reward… or measure the value of your ‘achievements’… it is a right to every human being. Because ultimately it is FUEL. And that is the number one priority of it’s existence. Secondary to that, is delicious-ness…
It was an important part of my day to have to eat that pud and not particularly enjoy it. As it helped to RE-INFORCE/highlight (pardon the pun)… the PRACTICAL purpose of food. As I spoke to one of my team in a 1:1 session yesterday, about the way my head still subconsciously super-glues food and reward together. Which has a huge impact on my self-worth, because it means if I’ve not ‘accomplished’ the things I’ve set out to do in the day, then the food feels more difficult. A reward not deserved.
When I wake up, check my pinned-up meal-plan and there’s a fair bit of neon-yellow in the day, I know it’s going to be a good’un. It’s a good’un because it reminds me I’m doing something every day to move forwards… I remember at first when Anorexia was the Captain Pilot of the plane in my mind when making decisions, that highlighting was more of a WARNING/red flag to me. To scare me. To remind me of the threats coming up for the day.
Now, it’s like a hug from opportunity to tell me I’m making positive changes. It’s the reminder for the control I’m working back towards having. It’s a reminder of the black-and-white world having an Eating Disorder brings… and literally, by seeing the highlighter every day, it’s making me realise how much I’m craving to have some colour back in my life.
Colour means recovery. It means no set rules. It means trusting there is no rule-book for life… learning to live with your instincts… experiencing your senses on all levels… being ‘connected’ with people in your life instead of simply being in the same room… it means accepting when things don’t go as expected… it means living boldly and happily in your own skin… it means not feeling guilty for feeling happy… it means TRUSTING that your happiness will be contagious, that happiness is a shared thing for the people that love you too…
So please, don’t feel selfish. Let’s be honest – everyone looks sexier with a smile…