What follows is an account of one day in my battle with disordered eating. I have fought this problem since before I was old enough to drive a car. It is one of the reasons I finally sought professional counseling through a dietitian this summer, though I didn't know it at the time.
In the months since my work began with the dietitian, I've made many gains. But under the right (wrong?) circumstances -- such as the recent weeks of stress -- backsliding happens. I'm writing about that for the first time here, now, because it's better than keeping silent.
I should have paid attention to the sinking feeling this morning.
It's the kind you get when you haven't eaten in a few hours and your blood sugar dips. Your stomach is growly and your head gets thick and it is all you can do to remember where you were supposed to go next -- much less what you were supposed to do once you got there -- on that list of errands you'd set for yourself.
It was another early morning. And you didn't count on things taking so long. Take a snack, your brain was saying as you headed for the car, wishing you could just stay home. But you were tired and you didn't want to have to have that snack. In the fuzzy logic -- or plain mule-headedness -- of on-the-way-out-the-door thought, you told yourself a doctor's appointment, a haircut, and an in-and-out trip to the grocery store should not take more than three hours. You'll be home right on time for your next meal,* you said. Screw the snack. It's extra calories you don't need. You've lost a little weight in the last month -- don't you want to keep things the way they are?
So you get through your appointment. When you get to the salon -- the bargain-basement walk-in one that also happened to put out a coupon that you needed to use this week if you wanted the additional savings -- you find two other people ahead of you in line. Okay, no problem. You flip through the look books since you haven't had a trim in six months -- better find a picture of what you're supposed to look like so whoever on the rotating staff is assigned to you will do the job right.
And you wait.
And you wait.
And you wait some more. No reason things are slow except that there are only two people working. By the time the woman with the scissors is ready for you, you're regretting that snack you told your brain to forget. The stylist does a good job, a thorough one. So thorough you're wondering if she's cutting each hair individually. And this is just a trim? The morning you thought you'd still have, after finishing these errands, slowly begins to slide out of reach. But, oh good, the stylist is finally done.
This, if you weren't going to take that snack, is where you should have gone home right away instead of trying to stick things out.
After leaving the salon, you head over to the grocery store. What did you need? It takes effort to remember, even though it's just two items. One of them -- salad greens -- wouldn't even be necessary if the greens you bought last Thursday, with an expiration date of November 10th, hadn't already decomposed by the 7th. But you need those greens. What the hell else are you supposed to fill up on if bread and crackers and cereal and all the rest of the food you've ever loved can only be eaten in portions that would make a mouse cry?**
At last, you do get home. You make that salad -- a quarter of an apple, an ounce of goat cheese, not quite a tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossed with the greens -- and slap some turkey with mustard on low-carb bread. It's a good lunch, a filling one. But you've eaten the same damn lunch for five days straight*** because you've been on autopilot with everything else going on. And now you want what you know you can't have: anything with more than 15 grams of carbs per serving. In any quantity you like.
You wait out the cravings. You're supposed to get on with the rest of the day anyway -- so the morning's gone, and you haven't showered yet, and the workout that you've been hating lately but that you cling to because it means your body still functions and your weight is still under your control needs to be done. But then the phone rings. And you're so lonely that you will totally blow another two hours talking when you know you'll be mad at yourself for shoving off more of the afternoon. Your resistance is waning.
When you hang up, you head for the kitchen. You need fuel for the workout, or that sinking feeling will get you halfway through. So you allow yourself some carbs.
But you've got no willpower left. Between the sugar lows and the lost morning and the loneliness and the sheer sense of defiance you have against all that the universe has thrown at you this year and the last with no rhyme or reason, you've HAD it. Before you can stop yourself, you've inhaled enough from the pantry to horrify your (former) endocrinologist and alarm your dietitian, the latter of whom you should call and 'fess up to right now so she can help you.
And I will.
* Eating meals at regular intervals is helpful in maintaining optimal blood-sugar levels and preventing binges.
** Obviously, this is a bit hyperbolic, but when your brain has no fuel, it doesn't process thought very logically or reasonably.
*** Creating variety, even only slightly, in what you eat can be helpful in preventing boredom, which can otherwise trigger binges.
1 day ago