White toast x 2, butter.
Smashed beets, pistachios and feta baguette.
‘Jude’s’ salted caramel ice-cream.
‘Fruitella’ fruit foams.
Smoked haddock and cheddar fishcake, cous-cous, mushy peas.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
Oh hello, button at the top of my jeans. Yes I DID in fact know you were there, from the moment I bought you. Thanks for the gentle reminder. You’re kind of necessary.
Oh, hey? Yeah I know, I know. You’re DEFINITELY still there. Thanks again for the reminder, bless you, but honestly – no, REALLY, there’s no need… I’ll be sure to use you, to prevent my knick-knacks flashing… just as I ALREADY DO when I wear you… Every. Single. Day.
…HI?! WHAT??? I would be MOST grateful if you could REMOVE your suspiciously snuggly self from my tum. This is VERY private, sensitive property of Yasmin Salt. And I have a RIGHT mind, to report you as an unwelcome stalker…
This was me tip-tapping at the keyboard, in a bit of a full-feeling rage, just before tea yesterday!! If you’re human, you probably know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, the whole tighter-fitter-feeling of your jeans scenario.
Mentally, my brainwaves were in more of a fluster, as opposed to the physical, tighter sensation that bothered me. After 111 days on a full-portion meal-plan, weight-restoring and a good few kilograms up, it would be worrying if my jeans DIDN’T feel different by now. I’d start to question if the weight was being pumped to obscure places… I’d start checking my toes for any abnormalities that could qualify for the ‘Guiness World Book of Records’; “The recovering Anorexic that reached a healthy BMI thanks to the weight of her toe.”
Maybe if I’d eaten fruit and veg all day, I’m starting to question – would it have felt different, psychologically? Would that button have felt like a friendly neighbour I could just dismiss and get on with my day? But it was the fact I’d gone out for a ‘challenging’ lunch with one of my support workers. A compromised restaurant of choice, after I’d chickened out and originally cancelled when I woke up in a bit of a panic yesterday – asking if I could re-order what I already had planned for lunch on the Unit…
We had scheduled ‘Pizza Hut’; it’s one of those places I remember enjoying when I was younger. It’s been years and years since eating there what that place EXISTS to deliver; all hale the best pizza on the planet. Instead of a half-arsed salad (during my best-go-anyway to make the effort days, even if pizza is definitely a product of a never-ending tornado spin of numbers my rules absolutely leave no room for me to have) that I could throw together myself at home without having to take out a loan for a bowl of leaves and a fairy-sprinkle of chicken…
It’s one of those places to eat, that for me, is ‘up there’. Deep, moist crust and a perfect ratio of tomato/cheese – a specific attribute to qualify for a decently delicious pizza. Birthday parties, family meals and dates with boyfriends before my Eating Disorder wormed in and gave me a system to help me cope with my life.
I’d woken up yesterday, with a bit of an indulgence headache, one of those moments that you realise your brain is lagging behind your what-feels-like sometimes rapidly changing body in recovery – like woah woah woah, I’m ALLOWED to eat this much NICE FOOD every day… ?! JUST for existing?! …but, instead of settling for the fact I felt ‘Pizza Hut’ was too much of a plunge that day, I’m grateful my support worker talked me round to ‘compromising’. A skill which seems naturally comes easier with recovery. And it’s quite empowering to begin noticing how there is never just a ‘black’ and ‘white’. There are a million and one other shades and options in-between… land neglected, waiting eagerly be explored!
So we took a trip to the ‘Harvester’. The challenge being eating out in itself – the ‘undeserving’ feeling, the guilt of spending more money on nice-tasting food when I didn’t have to. The fear of losing control as I know I may be eating out a few times this weekend, with my first overnight leave at home, and wondering… how much is too much? What if it snowballs and I become too indulgent and I don’t know when to stop? That I keep gaining and gaining and GAINING weight because eating so much nice food becomes so normal that it becomes addictive and repetitive, just as calorie counting and restricting was. And I become trapped by this unconfident, awkward little girl I still feel inside?
Another fear yesterday was anything I eat out, is likely to be ‘more’ excessive than what’s already on my meal-plan for lunch that day: “Why eat out when it isn’t necessary?”
But now the ‘mental consequences’, at this point in my recovery, feel LESS for taking this ‘foodie risk’, now that I’m choosing not to listen to my Eating Disorder… now I trust more and more every day that there are no rules, just guidance to how to live a healthy life, that get confused about how confidence relates to body image, that my set-point weight as a goal is the best opportunity I can give myself, and the more flexible I can practice being around food, and making it an experience rather than a rigid coping mechanism… then maybe, just maybe, the benefits of this lunch out will outweigh what used to hold me back? Had I really anything to lose?
…and my ‘recovery-focused’ question to throw out there – why live a life that is ‘necessary’? Why live and just ‘get by’? I want a life that is more than just breathing and dragging myself out of bed and back, day-in, day-out… we all, somewhere desire to enrich our lives, but those niggling thoughts of guilt and no-one being able to give us a definitive rule about how much is too much when it comes to ANYTHING (not just food) that we take pleasure from… are enough to dare to throw their arms around our middles and hold us back.
After an ordering of a ‘safe’ salmon, jacket potato and veg, I apologised to the waitress (in a Texas-like green and white chequered shirt), for fannying around changing my mind. And therefore ordered what my gut instinct was eyeing up. Before I allowed myself to overthink.
SO, I enjoyed a very tasty Moroccan-inspired tagine – value-for-money by the size, I’ll give them that. It came with giant cous-cous, a flatbread and an avocado dip. Before the meal arrived (I felt like I won 67,000 bonus points of excitement for the fact it was on the table by the time I arrived back from the loo…), the support worker and I helped ourselves to the bloody marvellous FREE buffet salad bar. We’re not talking shredded skinny bits of lettuce and translucent, aging cumcumber slices either – the counter looked like a colourful, extravagant carnival of salad. Whenever I see help-yourself Black Beauty elegant olives, I often wonder to myself (the devil on my shoulder) if I brought my own jars, how much I could flog them for? Set up a market stall outside? They’re golden nuggets of the salad-ing world!
The ‘English-buffet-criminal’ in me dissolving – I was back to admiring the sweetcorn, peppers (not just one colour, but multiple?! A sign of VIP salad when you see it), dressings, bread rolls, sauces, purple-velvet-coloured, beetroot etc etc. I bet you never thought you’d be reading a dedicated salad novel on your average Saturday night!
Yeah, well I got a little bit over-excited, like a kid being released to roam free at a ‘Candy King’ pick and mix… and it was flippin’ marvellous to munch alongside my main course (cold crunch complimenting the warm, spicy flavours and all that), but I realised how perhaps having a LOT of salad may still be a ‘safety’ behaviour I hold on to.
It has no detrimental on my physical health of course, but mentally, although part of me genuinely loves salad, it’s as though I’ll always choose to have as much salad as I can to compensate for the rest of the meal. Like something that subtracts or distracts from the other parts that feel ‘indulgent’.
But after feeling true full-ness for the very first time in such a LONG time… (I feel I’m past the ‘bloated’ part that comes with weight-restoring) it really did hit me. It felt wrong and messy and I can’t lie – bloody AWFUL.
Do you remember that game where you had to guide a metal loop over a wire, right to the end without making contact – or it would make a grumbling ‘buzz’ noise, telling you to go back to the start?
I feel like the button at the top of my jeans was sending that ‘buzz’ noise on a constant loop from the moment I got dressed that morning. But now even more-so. Sending the electric signal to my brain, telling me that I was the wrong one. That the fact my button was so snuggly with my tum nowadays was a signal I needed to change something, to take back control. This was all WRONG. I’d gone too far, pushed my weight further than I deserve to…
…I spoke about the fullness afterwards with my support worker, and she felt the same way. This was a ‘normal’ feeling. But I suddenly felt defensive thoughts come flying my way – since when do I deserve to feel normal feelings of fullness? To eat so much as others without it being purely because I need to ‘gain weight’ and just to feel full because I enjoyed the experience of a nice meal and lovely company? Suddenly I felt a bit swept up by this ‘normal’ uncomfortable stomach feeling… how am I supposed to get used to this and know that it’s okay?
Just a side not note on the salad – as before when I was restricting and before starting this journey of recovery, I prioritised salad over most foods, knowing I could eat more of it than anything else. But my stomach had room. Now perhaps that I’m eating more substantial foods, I realise I’m still perhaps caught up in that mindset and holding onto that habit… yet I no longer need – mentally or physically, THAT much salad.
I took this away. I’m still entitled to enjoy salad and have as much as I’d like, but it’s made me learn that now my body’s programmed differently, it will tell me what it needs sometimes and what it doesn’t need so much of nowadays. I have to accept that things have moved on for me, and it’s like grieving in a way… indulging in salad has been like a blanket to a small child. It makes me feel like it’s a very, very subtle way of clinging on to the ‘safe’ thoughts perhaps of my Eating Disorder.
Yes, feeling full IS uncomfortable. There’s no way to fluff that up and sit it next to a teddy bear. But that’s human and that’s okay…
…maybe I’m ready to let go of those jeans soon. And with a bit of weight left to restore, I know I eventually will. But at the moment I have a feeling this is how they’re ‘supposed’ to fit. I’ve just been used to the button living further down the road, forgetting it was even there. Because my jeans haven’t fit properly for a long time.
It’s okay to feel full.
Its human. Not a failing.
It’s a physical process, and it has no right to instruct your mind how to behave.
Was the LIFE experience worth sacrificing a few hours of stomach comfort? If yes, then keep being brave. Let these be signs, on occasion, of you living a full life.
Anyway, all that ramble is about yesterday!
Right NOW I’m currently snuggled on a sofa, watching telly in the front room with my Mum and Step-Dad (in my house after four months?!?!) and so far it’s been a brilliant day. This also feels so normal. (so therefore, so wrong to my current-in-divorce-of-an-Eating-Disorder)
Ive also broken my Pret-A-Manger lunch virginity (right posh, me) with me beautiful, scrummy sis… met my grandparents (asked my Nanna if she could make her special fishcakes so a I could enjoy one for tea)… AND eaten WITH my Mum?!?! (without panicking about timings/eating alone etc)
ALL of the above paragraph, things I never, ever, ever, EVER thought I’d be able to do four months ago, perhaps even just two months ago… (unless it meant I tortured myself over my thoughts, alone, in a cell, for weeks, maybe months) just throw me an orange jumpsuit. (Anorexia would like that very much)
So far on weekend leave, very weird, but I’m sure this means so far, VERY good.
Heres photographic evidence of me enjoying my first posh Pret sarnie! Doing us Northerners proud. And some snappies of me scrummy 1 of 2 Salt sisters… !