Month: February 2017

Safety Dances With Food

It’s #NEDAwareness Week 2017! Welcome to a week full of recovery stories, eating disorder education, #RecoveryHeros, and so much more. Each year I use all my outlets to reach out and shine a light on eating disorders. I use my social media as tools (FB & IG), this blog, and I am adding a new outlet-my blog, AUM in the Arts. You can check out stories from some of my  yoga peeps about how yoga and/or art has helped them recover from their ED. I will be sharing some of my story on Friday. Until then I guess some blogpost’s here will have to do….

Safety-is not just a dance. Safety-is not just being aware and careful of your surroundings. Safety-is not just a warm hug or embrace from a loved one. Safety-is more than a blanket or stuffed animal. Safety-is and can be food. Ask anyone who suffers from disordered eating or an eating disorder they will all mention “safety food”, also known as “good food”; food that won’t cause binging/purging or your ED to spiral out of control. Just as there are a variety of eating disorders there is a variety of safety foods. Each person will have their own “safe food”/”good food” and of course the dreaded “bad food”.

“Bad food” is the worst. “Bad food” is what your eating disorder has told you is bad for no apparent reason. Sometimes a good food can turn into a bad food, sometimes the opposite happens. Sometimes your food choices change daily.  We do not choose our food preferences. The eating disorder does and most of the time it makes no sense why it chooses certain food and not others. Just because a food is deemed “safe”/”good” doesn’t mean it is healthy, just as a “bad” food is not always unhealthy.

 

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This daily food intake is a dance. Sometimes it’s a Cha-Cha and other days it’s a Jive. Our dance partner is our ED and we have to stay in time with him in order to have a good day and avoid getting ran over by the couple next to us. ED (Melvin) is my partner and no one else can dance with me. I can’t dance with love, happiness, joy, or life. I dance with my food list in three quarter or four four time in hopes of managing my out of control life.

Our “good”/”safe” food and “bad” food list is like a dance syllabus. There are certain foods you eat everyday that won’t cause you to step out of time. There are certain foods that will make the music faster and foods that will cause you to step on Melvin’s feet and he hates that. When  you step on his feet he tells you that you are bad and unworthy-that the only way to undo the damage to his precious feet is to engage in an unhealthy activity.

 

Food lists vary from individual to individual-just like there are dance techniques. My list isn’t the same as my friends and hers isn’t the same as someone she knows. My food list was deeply impacted by my Orthorexia (obsession with clean/healthy/organic eating). Below are just a few of the foods that were on my lists (that I can remember) and to ensure that I stayed on my dancing game this were the foods I ate or avoided daily.

 

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Safe Food

Peanut Butter: Post peanut allergy diagnosis it was Sunflower Butter, to this day I have a hard time eating Sunflower Butter.

Fruit: Any kind, appropriate serving size of course. I still remember the calories in 1 small banana, 1 cup of strawberries, 1 cup of blueberries, etc.

Soup: Vegetable soup (of course!). I loved soup because it was low calorie, you would get full easier and you can eat as much as you want.

Coffee and Lots of It: I NEVER had a “fancy” coffee. If I had a latte it was plain, not even sugar-free syrup, I maybe “treated” myself to a latte once a month or quarter. Most of the time it was just plain black coffee. Zero calories. Zero guilt. More caffeine please!!!!

Salad: Need I say more? Now it’s totally #gagmewithaspoon

Peanut Butter & Apple or Banana Sandwich: 2 TBSP w/ 1/2 fruit on 2 pieces of low cal whole wheat bread. If I had been good or planned to exercise a lot this day or be covered in rehearsals I would add 1 TBSP honey. For a grand total of 300 cals.

Dried Edamame: 1/4 cup at 140 cals=one snack filled with protein and no fat/sugar/carbs. Gimme more!

Egg White(s): Who needs all that cholesterol anyway? Apparently my hormones needed it but Melvin said other wise.

Beans: Black, pinto, garbanzo, white, it didn’t matter. Again, low cal/high protein/high fiber.

Other Foods: dairy free milk (1 cup), cereal (serving size only), green tea, fiber pills, and beer (once I turned 21).

Bad Food

Soft Drinks: Diet, regular, and the Stevia ones. Now how times have changed. I love Diet Coke, #noshame .

Pizza: Unless I had starved myself or was in a huge caloric deficit and needed to refuel only then was pizza appropriate. Then said pizza intake had to be a 1 whole pizza.

Brownies: My all time favorite dessert was also a bad food in the same category as pizza. I could have a brownie if I ran 5 miles, had a two hour rehearsal, and had burned off all my food. GET IN MY BELLY!!! But if not then no brownies. No Way. No How.

Any Sweet Treat: This is just obvious. Sugar. Fat. Calories. No way! Birthdays and holidays were soooo hard!

Potatoes: High GI Index food had no place in my diet, no matter how tasty  or healthy potatoes can be. Potato dishes are some of my favorite foods due to my love of a certain food Melvin made it bad.

Fries: deep fried food and high GI Index? Not a chance.

Pasta: see above.

Carbs/Grains: I was only allowed 1 cup of cereal and two slices of bread (100% whole wheat please!) for my sandwich. I was low carb before it was cool.

Ice Cream: Same category as brownies and pizza.

Juice: Too much sugar. But if juice couldn’t be avoided I would dilute it with lots and lots of water.

Other bad foods: Anything that my ED (Melvin) said was bad. Even if it was on the good list. A “good food” on Monday could be a “bad” food on Tuesday.

 

That last statement: anything that my ED (Melvin) said was bad. Even if it was on the good list. A “good food” on Monday could be a “bad” food on Tuesday. Is the Safety Food Dance. I had to waltz with Melvin and not step on his toes. The minute I was out of time or stepped on his toes he would remind me of how bad I was and then the binge/purge cha-cha would begin.  I’m glad to say that I’m no longer Melvin’s dance partner. His dance syllabus was extremely tiring and not based in technique. Today I do dance with food, but it isn’t a safety dance. It’s a yummy dance. I dance when I make yummy food. I dance when I go somewhere and they make me delicious GF/DF/Vegetarian fare. I dance in the kitchen. No matter what I do with food, I dance.

 

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Phantom of the Gastrointestinal Opera

If you have followed my blog for some time or know me in real life you know all about my  battles with my body. Not just on the eating disorder front, but between all the food allergies, vegetarianism, and my biggest battle…Phantom GI Issues.Phantom GI Issues is a fun name (like how my ED is named Melvin) that I gave my mysterious gastrointestinal disorder. Things always seem to be a bit more bearable when you give them some sort of characteristic or quality. For example Melvin, my ED, is one of those socially awkward nerdy types who doesn’t know when to be quiet and is annoyingly inappropriate. My Phantom GI Issue is similar to the Phantom from the Phantom of the Opera. He is mysterious, loves to whisk me away in the middle of the night, wreak havoc anytime he gets upset/doesn’t get his way, and no one knows where and who he is. One exception, this Phantom isn’t Gerard Butler-who I never thought was cute but I know other women who think otherwise. But I digress….

For over five years I have battled and try to escape the Paris Opera House that my GI Phantom has held me hostage in. For over four years I have spent hundreds of dollars on tests that came back “normal” or “inconclusive”. There has only been one test that came back with a result (a hiatal hernia with H. Pylori) but after that was cured I still suffered from undisclosed sickness. I have spent hours driving to and from doctor’s appointments with underpaid staff and scheduled my life around these appointments. Appointments that I knew would come back “inconclusive” or “you are fine. there is nothing wrong with you”, “it’s just IBS”, “its just stress” etc… There are at least fifty hours of my life I cannot get back because I was in diagnostic testing where each and every test came back with those blasted normal readings. That gallbladder ultrasound=negative…but lets test your gallbladder function–that test (three hours long!) came back regular. Let’s have a small bowel function test (trust me you never want this!!!! never!!!!) came back regular. Let’s draw six viles of your blood because you may not have any antibodies. Let’s have you breathe into a bag and see if you still have H. Pylori. Let’s give you all this medicine that makes your symptoms worse or doesn’t work at all.  Ooo a nice ER trip is just the best way to spend date night with your husband….

 

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While all this is going on I am trying to learn to love myself. As a yoga instructor and a dance instructor of mini’s I’m always talking about “self-love”, “body positivity”, “love who you are”….all things I’ve been trying to do since I started recovery about six years ago.  I talk a good game but deep down I still don’t like myself-I like myself more than I used to, thank you yoga and fringe arts-but the Phantom made it really hard for me to make peace with my body. I longed to nourish properly. I longed to not care as much about what I look. I longed to live what I teach 100%. But I…Just…Couldn’t.

I kept thinking, “how can I love my body when it doesn’t love me?”.  Why treat it with respect and lovingkindness when no matter what I do the Phantom had other plans? Why sing aria’s of anti-inflammatory smoothies when I get booed? Why dance to beautiful music of the best gluten free/vegan, roasted red pepper pasta with a glass of my favorite wine, when the Phantom would drop a chandelier on me? Why treat my body with respect, like the temple that it is, when obviously the Phantom says otherwise.

 

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I look at my body and I see torture. I see the torture and tug of war between the Phantom, Melvin, and myself. How I want and long to overcome it, but it’s beyond difficult. I just can’t love myself when I’m strung out over the toilet clinging for dear life. I just can’t love myself when my favorite safe food makes me sick. I just can’t love myself when the Phantom holds me hostage underneath the opera house and I can’t go out with my friends.

However, times are changing. The Phantom has had his time. I am playing his last opera and then burning down the opera house. I have found out what he was clinging too-what he was using to keep me from loving myself. I am on the mend. Moving on from the flames of the Paris Opera house but still aware of the Phantom. With my new meds and new (accurate!!!!!) diagnosis I can begin to heal. I can begin a relationship with my body unlike one I’ve had before. I am taking small steps but I see a new beautiful opera house in the mist. I don’t know how long it will take to get there, but with the Phantom managed and behind me, I can sing an aria of anti inflammatory smoothies and dance with red wine all the way to the opera house.

 

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