cleanses

A Whole 30 Full of Nothing

Congratulations! You made it through January. 31 days full of hope, can do attitudes, intentions, and of course….“diets”. Between juice cleanses, Paleo, vegan, Keto, vegetarian, it’s hard to see straight. Did you see one or more of these flood your social media? If your feeds look like mine over half of your friends chose Whole 30 as their New Years diet of choice. For 30 days my feed was full of Larabars,  kale chips, strawberries, and why sugar (in all forms) and gluten is the devil, why you need to cleanse yourself by restricting your food in take, and most important a mindset that a majority of food(s) are bad.

Too me that doesn’t sound like a diet. It sounds like an eating disorder. Eating disorders are extremely deceptive and sneak up on you. They creep up in the middle of the night posing as a good dream–dreaming of pounds lost, a healthy intestinal tract, clear skin, a sense of worth because you made it thirty days with little food. ED’s and food restriction give you something that most people can’t, a feeling of superiority–which when you lack confidence this superiority feels really, really, really, really, good. But ED’s devour you and suck you in. Eating disorders like to make you think that you are in control but you aren’t! They are. ED’s manipulate science, buzz words, and use scare tactics to keep you under their thumb.

 

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Before you know it you have drank the (no sugar) Kool-Aid filled with collagen peptides and bone broth, you’re a “whole food expert”  giving everyone nutrition advice because you have done something that is seen as hardcore and valuable. Or  you give advice because you got a six week certification, so that means you are superior to someone who has a masters or doctorate.  If you have made it this far, another congratulations! If you disagree with me and want to blast me online go ahead, you won’t hurt me.

Hear me out though. This is why I write this. Here is a quote from one of Melissa’s blog posts,Food freedom is feeling in control of the food that you eat, instead of food controlling you.“. That right there is blatant eating disordered talk. To make it even more infuriating, she follows up with this,

“Food freedom doesn’t mean that you’re a perfect eater, however. It doesn’t mean you always make the “right” decision. It doesn’t mean you always stay on track, and never fall back into old habits. Food freedom means that when you fall off course, you don’t let it ruin your day (or your week), physically or emotionally. It means you always have a plan for returning to a place of healthy balance, gracefully. It means you recognize that life happens, but every “slip” is actually a learning experience, and your food freedom plan is that much more robust for these lessons.

Food freedom demands that you’re in this for the long haul. There is no hack for food freedom; no shortcut or quick fix. It’s you, working my 3-step Food Freedom plan, day in and day out, every single day. There are no weeks off. There is no “I’m on vacation, so I’m just not going to think about it.” You can’t disconnect from your body or your relationship with food when things get hard. Food freedom demands more attention than that.”

 

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This is prime example of the smooth operator that an ED is. It is mixed messaging at its finest. Sure this sounds good, we all want food freedom, but look at her language. Words such as: right (ED: terms good/bad), slip (ED term: relapse), demanding attention, and that you have to do it HER way are setting someone up for an eating disorder. Sure you may not give in to this aspect of it, However, someone who is upset with their life, looking for control, coping with a traumatic event, etc… this language and concept will lead them down an eating disorder path. Conversely if someone has orthorexia (obsession with clean eating/healthy eating) using Whole 30 is the perfect cover up. It gives them a reason that is societally ok to be this obsessive. Which as a recovery warrior is the last thing I want see.

I want to see women and men have food freedom because they want it, not because someone else told them to or because their diet is “less than”. I want them to find their own version of healthy by working with a dietician who can customize a program for them.  I want them to work out in a smart, evidence based manner, where the results are actually a lifestyle that is maintainable. Everyone deserves a healthy lifestyle but at an eating disorder free cost.

 

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For more articles about eating disorders and Whole 30 see the following:

 

***P.S-I am aware that there is a post about ED’s and Whole 30 on the Whole 30 blog. It is very generic and in my opinion glazes over some the of deeper issues that sets eating disorders apart from disordered eating (gateway to ED’s) and doesn’t take the seriousness of this issue.

 

 

detox much?

When you have an eating disorder you can manipulate anything in your head. There is a rational thought/reason behind everything you do. Even if doesn’t make sense to others, it makes sense to you. There are even times you can convince anyone that what you are doing is alright. You are the last person to really see that you are wrong. That your action is anything but rational. It is irrational.

Eating disorders have a tendency to cling to certain words or catchphrases. “Low-cal”, “Increase *insert some word*”, “cleanse”, “detox your body”, “clarify”, “fat”, “get what you want”, “this *insert action* will give you the approval you seek”, “control”, etc…the list goes on and on and on and on. You do the action because at the end of the day you need that control. That approval. A way to change who you are because you struggle with yourself.

When in the depths of my eating disorder I had a long list of things I did not eat, my list of few foods I would eat, what I avoided like the plague , an extreme exercise addiction, and I even mis-used fiber pills/laxatives. All of my actions were because I needed control. I viewed myself as lower than others but by obeying these rules I had set up for myself, I could be up there with everyone I felt inferior to.

In the yogi lifestyle, along with dance life, even fitness, a lot of people talk about cleanses/detox’s. I had friends who did them in the spring. In the yogic medicine, Ayurveda, you do them as the seasons change. Fitness people do it to help them get to their next goal. People asked me all the time if I did cleanses. I don’t know if it is because they saw I didn’t eat a lot or just ate tons of salad, or because I was into those lifestyles. I always said no. I never agreed with cleansing because I didn’t like the idea of starving ones self in order to “cleanse the inside”. But yet, I was ALWAYS starving myself. Though the eating disorder would never call itself a cleanse because an eating disorder is a way of life. A cleanse doesn’t last long.  The idea of detoxes and cleanses always intrigued me. I thought it amazing that people could go a while without caffeine (which is an eating disorders really good friend…..mmmmm coffee for lunch! L-carnatine for snack though I will get the shakes! eye-openers because I don’t eat enough breakfast and I can’t sleep at night because I had no food and I need to be alive during my 8:15 History class) or eat nothing but black beans. Yet, it was everything I did. I didn’t drink the special teas or waters. I didn’t eat the specified times of day. I just didn’t eat. Or I just measured out my whole caloric intake up to my crazy two hour long exercise-a-thon followed by dance rehearsal. Due to this I stayed away from the cleanses. Yet, I couldn’t stay away from my eating disorder.

A few weeks ago I saw Yoga Journal promoting a fall detox. It was only a week long, and that seemed feasible. Their detox plan was food based (which a lot of detoxes aren’t food based. They restrict a lot). You ate a special rice dish three times a day, drank special teas, had a broth you had to for snacks. The  meals were based on Ayurvedic medicine for your dosha type. There was even a special yoga practice that went a long with it. Each day you did a special cleansing and detox practice to help restore your body’s balance. In the morning I was going to have my husband give me a massage with sunflower oil before I showered so I could stimulate my lymph system. In the introduction video this cleanse was promoted as a way to “prevent illness”, “align myself with the seasons”, a “whole food cleanse”, a “purification of my insides”, and a way to break nasty habits I have, along with challenging a new way of being. So I can “self heal” and see the world with a new perspective.

As an individual with gastrointestinal issues that had been controlling her life the past few weeks (because my GI didn’t want me to forget that I had IBS and stomach spasms), I felt as if this detox could restore my internal organs. Cleanse my insides and heal them.  I jumped on this wagon full force.  I was telling everyone about this detox. I was pumped! I looked forward to eating this rice dish three times a day, have my love massage me, do yoga daily, and drink this tea that actually sounded delish. I also liked the idea of a challenge. The video mentioning about how detox help manage your bad habits and push you. I love being pushed.

So in therapy I mentioned this. My therapist was skeptical (my husband was too, but instead of voicing how he really felt he supported me). But using my eating disorder brain, I used therapy buzz words and manipulated it into something that sounded ok. With his approval I went out and bought all my special foods. Sunday arrives and I rise up early to make my rice dish, tea, and cilantro chutney. It takes me all morning! I am in the kitchen cooking up a storm. As I am preparing my meal I see this last slice of cornbread that I wasn’t gonna be able to eat. The hubby was double checking the foods I could eat. He offered me coffee but I had to refuse, I could only do green tea for caffeine.  We talked about his dinners and I realized I couldn’t eat that delicious food. I had a special dessert that I couldn’t finish. Hubs was going have to finish it. There was all this food that I couldn’t eat.

My breakfast is ready. I look down at my bowl of rice, seaweed, carrots, beans, green beans, and potatoes. I have an apple with it.  It doesn’t look like breakfast food. I am unappatized. Where are my Chex? My yogurt? My Whole-Os? I want cereal. Pancakes. Eggs. Anything but this! I take one bite and I say, “I can’t do this.” My husband replied, “You already giving up? You just started.” Hearing those words “give up” sparked my eating disorder. Giving up is a negative. I ate my breakfast. I am not full. Not satiated. I am miserable. Lunch arrives. Rice dish, and a baked potato with a tiny bit of avocado. Day goes on. I am foggy, grouchy, irritable….HUNGRY. Then I realize, I am in the pits of my eating disorder. I am doing everything, feeling everything, I did pre-recovery.  In essence I was restricting myself but not with my eating disorder behavior. I had worked so hard over the past two years to eat freely. Eat that dessert, drink that extra beer, have yogurt, not measure breakfast/lunch/dinner, refrain from counting calories. But here I am restricting what foods I eat. Not feeling sharp. Feeling the sadness of not being able to eat the rest of that cornbread or foods I am now enjoying.

After that realization I gave up this detox. It put me in a very sad place. Inadvertently through all this mind manipulation, I had started down that path of my eating disorder. Like an alarm going off, my wise self, spoke up and said,”evacuate this detox!”. So I did. I snacked on that last piece of cornbread, I made a lovely cozy dinner and had a  nice stout beer for dessert. I heard my eating disorder say (which by the way his name is Melvin), “You gave up. You took the easy way out. You are a failure. You use to have such will power when I was your friend before you dropped my friendship. I say to him as I drink my beer,  “Melvin, I did not give up. I do have will power. I have the will power to give you up and stay in recovery.”