(This is always such a lovely surprise… on weigh-days one of the other creative and very BEAUTIFUL patients puts little notes on everyone’s milk bottles… 🙂)
White toast x 2, butter. (…Marmite on one slice)
Sausage hotpot, mashed potato, cabbage.
Strawberry cheesecake and cream.
Tuna mayo, sweetcorn and red onion sandwich (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad. Cherry full-fat yoghurt.
‘Picnic’ chocolate bar.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
Muesli for breakfast on a weigh-day:
“Oh deary, deary me… you really do want to start the day off with a mental tornado, don’t you. Go ahead and feast on breakfast like you’re ACTUALLY something special. Be alone with your greed… just do not come running back to me when your control’s well and truly b*ggared off out the window…”
…and that’s exactly WHY I chose Muesli for breakfast.
For the record I don’t actually HEAR voices with my Eating Disorder… they are just the thoughts that fester when it comes to making choices around food. So when I write them out, it actually helps me to realise what’s going on… to see the ‘negative’ chatter that influences my decision-making, the stuff I want to ‘drop’ in order to gain control of ME again. To make the invisible, visible…
‘Weetabix’ had become a robotic, unwritten ‘rule of choice’ for weigh-day mornings. That was the thankful and easiest bit about meal-planning for the following week. The bit I used to look forward to… one decision I COULD be certain on. I’d scribble it neatly in Monday and Thursday’s breakfast boxes, more confidently than a Chihuahua barking at a kid’s flashing trainers.
As I’ve gradually felt a bit braver testing new food choices over the past few weeks, I’ve started to question when things feel too ‘easy’ and ‘certain’. Especially when meal-planning – why my decisions feel so ‘set’ on one thing, immediately. Is it my version of ‘easy’ and ‘certain’ or my Eating Disorder’s? And, ultimately, it’s frustrating me when I do recognise it’s not me – annoyed and weak. Which is enough motivation to starting diving a bit deeper.
There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve tested options ‘a-little-less-safe-than-Weetabix’ recently, but with Muesli being on the most royal (and therefore unworthy) end of my breakfast choices, I’d realised that it was silently, and far too confidently ‘written off’ as a choice on weigh-days.
So I thought about it. I’m here to give it my best shot at recovering for life, so why am I not able to allow myself a cereal I enjoy the taste of more than Weetabix? All because of stepping on the scales that morning? What difference would it make if I chose it that day over any other?
What would having a bowl of oats and raisins do differently to a couple of wheaty biscuits?
I guess part of that, is Anorexia clinging on to numbers for it’s reasoning, the fact Weetabix are consistent – Muesli is unmeasured and therefore more calorific. But then, checking in with myself, I realised how p*ssed off I am with using numbers as a system for sussing out my food needs… and at this point, I am no longer calorie counting – I’ve chopped off my third hand/second brain (pick which one you want), so why does it still feel important on weigh-days?
I figured that most of all, it was my way of ‘protecting’ myself and my emotions after seeing that higher digital number pop up on the screen. I know I’m here to ditch Anorexia, and my breakfast choices have by no means been influenced by a desire to lose weight or prevent weight-gain… (well, not since the first slippery 2 weeks or so)
“You’ll feel sh*t about yourself for putting on weight, so be kind to your head and have a ‘safe’ cereal. Otherwise you won’t cope with your mood through the day and things will feel overwhelming.”
Weetabix was an option that my Eating Disorder convinced me would feel ‘calming’ (after seeing the weight-gain, the OPPOSITE direction to what it wants – reminding me that I am rebelling against the rules I SHOULD be following) – a cooling off. Like when you’re in a swimming pool, holding onto the side as you float your legs out, tummy up in the air. You feel the gravity taken away… in a peaceful place of your own… for about 3 minutes… before a toddles splashes with an inflatable panda.
And then I started wondering, maybe the Muesli (being a cereal I enjoy so therefore DOES feel more ‘indulgent’) would act as a ‘reward’ for putting on weight – something my Eating Disorder is threatened by. What if it reassures to me that weight gain is a ‘good’ thing? (something Anorexia DEFINITELY doesn’t want to ‘think’) …and once I’ve restored my weight eventually, I’ll lose control because of training myself to think this way? How will I trust myself with eating the foods I enjoy? Where will I stop?
There’s always that fear lingering like Casper the ghost, as you progress through treatment… that now you’re experiencing this sudden hit of delicious foods, your self-control will be held at gun-point for the rest of your life. No going back. But Eating Disorders, as well as the diet industry don’t WANT you to have that self-trust or gut-instinct about making decisions. They both convince you that life is only controlled by having rules, to snatch control where you can… which is where you end up losing who you really are.
Part of me did feel a brick thrown at my brain when I saw, today, what I was on for breakfast. But I trusted, that when I meal-planned last week, I’d thought this through. Well and truly thought this through so that I could make decisions that would put me in a more flexible position, and therefore better quality of life, for the future. I thought this through because I wanted to test the discomfort and prove to myself I could survive it. SURVIVE enjoying juicy raisins mingled with friendly oats. EVEN after stepping on the scales. (and hearing mental abuse from Anorexia)
And, well… I’ve lived long enough to type this up, it turns out! (if you don’t hear from me tomorrow you know I’ve been kidnapped by the ‘Raisin Mafia’ in my sleep) And I enjoyed it, in that moment. What takes the enjoyment away from ANY moment is wasting brain-cells worrying. As far as I know, Weetabix has no more Paracetamol benefits than Muesli – so this mental ‘headache’ my Eating Disorder convinced me to believe would destroy my day after being weighed this morning, would NOT be cured WHATEVER I had in my bowl.
Be that a chocolate cream eclair… a lonely carrot stick… or a Jelly Baby. (phwoar, I miss the pink ones!)
What WILL cure the ‘mental headache’ is choosing to continue putting one step in front of the other… to work on the relationship with myself – that as I get to a healthy weight, and much further beyond into the rest of my life, to work on how, safely to deal with my emotions. If you’re looking to improve confidence, success, your general mental health, the overwhelming fear of any part of your life… food is not the answer. It’s our quickest tool for ‘control’… but overall, the most destructive. And you don’t have to have an Eating Disorder for that to happen.