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.
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.
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).
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.