Safe foods

Behold, my breakfast this morning (as well as a segment my messy desk)!  What is it?  Why, it’s a venti soy chai latte from Starbucks, that’s what!  And let me tell you, this does not a healthy breakfast make.

I like soy chai lattes a lot, but there’s a big part of me that’s very wary of them because they’re one of my safe foods.  In other words, they’re one of the things I find myself able to consume when my desire to restrict reaches its pinnacle.  I made it through the worst of my restricting period with grande soy chai lattes.  The caffeine and sugar helped me to shake off the dazed feeling that accompanied the hunger, and I figured the soy milk had some protein in it.  Totally balanced, right?!  Because of this troubled history, I know that a morning when all I can get myself to consume is a soy chai latte is a warning sign.

When I first began treatment for my ED, I was in crisis mode.  There were a lot of things going on that I could point to and say, “This is stressing me out.”  Things continued in that way for a really long time, and only recently have I been able to take a step back and look at things and realize that they’re not that bad.  I’m definitely not in crisis mode, and although there are things here and there that pop up and upset me, for the first time in a while things are going well.  In a way, though, this is troubling.  If things are fine, then why am I still compelled to turn to Starbucks for my “breakfast”?  Why is coming up with ideas for lunch so difficult?  Why do I eat the same salad night after night?  Why can’t I go to the grocery store, plan my meals, write out a shopping list?

I’m not sure I can answer those questions.  What I can offer, though, in lieu of answers, are some thoughts.  While I was training for my most recent marathon, I was much more comfortable with food and my body.  When I stopped training, I let myself slip right back into a lot of the habits I developed when I was actively restricting, including avoiding food and decisions related to it.  Rather than continue to work on developing a more positive perspective on food and a more nurturing attitude toward myself, I took the easy route.  Recovery requires a lot of hard work and constant vigilance, and I let down my guard.  Now, as a result, I’m acting out of habit.

Of course, there’s more to it than that.  The more work I do, the more I realize that part of what lies at the core of the problem is the fact that I might not like myself very much (wow, that was really hard to admit, hence the number of words that ended up in the sentence, as though I could avoid saying it).  In response to a post I wrote the other night, my friend Sonia remarked that I don’t seem to believe that anyone else will like me; to a certain degree, this is because I can’t understand anyone liking me because I don’t find myself all that likable.  It’s a difficult truth, but one that I have to face if I hope to be able to make any progress when it comes to my ED.  And it’s definitely connected to the habit I’ve gotten in to of not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone when it comes to food, because a huge part of wanting and working to cultivate care-taking behaviors (such as eating in a balanced way) is based on the premise that you care enough about yourself to do so in the first place.  Otherwise, you feel like you’re working really hard on something that you’re not convinced is entirely worth it.

This week‘s Monday mini-goal was to be more aware of the negative self-talk I engage in, and I’ve been working on trying to quiet that voice.  But in addition to doing that, it’s becoming clear to me that I need to start actively treating myself with more care, in the same way I would treat someone I love.  Luckily, I do already have days when I feel more accepting of myself, and I can embrace who I am.  Hopefully, by working harder and being more aware of what I’m doing, I can start to turn things around so that I experience days like that more frequently.

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14 comments

  1. One thing I’ve found is that I’ll easily admit to myself that I’m deficient in so many ways and yet I’d be hard pressed to do the same for someone I really love. Why is it so difficult to love ourselves in the same way? It’s one of my goals this year to try to find some sort of answer to that question.

    1. I worked with a therapist once who reminded me that I should think of speaking to myself in the same way that I would speak to a friend. I’d never be as abusive or mean to a friend as I am to myself! It’s a good technique, when you can remember to use it. Often, though, I get so wrapped up in my negative thinking that I very easily overlook the methods I have of getting out of it.

  2. 1. I’ve given up the chai from Starbucks after I discovered it is has sucralose in it (I couldn’t pinpoint what had been upsetting my stomach!). I make a better chai on my stove at home and I prefer to sweeten it naturally thankyouverymuch. I am, however, fully on board with paying $3 for a shot-glass of Starbucks oatmeal. Guilty pleasure breakfast.

    2. Starbucks spelled your name wrong. I know the Barista has no way of knowing, but I feel like standing up for you on such a moot point.

    3. When I dislike myself, I stop and think about all the other people that I also dislike. Then I realize that I’m a much more worthwhile and likeable person than the lot of them. Seriously, the world is full of jerks. I’m not one of them. Neither are you. Besides, I like you enough for both of us 🙂

  3. Self-love… so hard. And it’s really hard to even admit that lack of self-love might be what is going on. I hope that writing this all out is cathartic for you– I find that writing things down is painful, but a really necessary step when I’m trying to get at the “core” of what I’m dealing with.

    1. I agree–these things are a very necessary step in getting to the heart of what is going on. There’s something about writing it down that makes it more concrete. When I was young and used to write in a diary, I was always sort of hesitant to put certain things in there, thinking that if I did they would all of a sudden be true. I had the same feeling yesterday when I was writing this post.

  4. I just found your blog. I have foods like that too, unfortunately. Honestly, it’s not the coffee itself that’s the bad thing- it’s the feelings associated with it. If it reminds you of restricting… just don’t get it at all. Order something else or even order it a little bit differently. I could see where, even if that wasn’t the only thing you had for breakfast, it would spark those kinds of feelings. Plus you never know… you might try another drink and really, really like it. But at least you’re aware of the feelings- that’s definitely the first step in finding ways to deal with them.

    I think training for a race or something would make my recovery easier too. I ran a half marathon and while I did restrict during that, I didn’t restrict as much (because I knew my body needed the energy to run). Having to eat for your running definitely makes a difference.

    A.L.

    1. I think the idea of not getting a food because it reminds you of restricting is a really good one. I’ll have to try that out. And you’re right, it could open up a new preference which would ultimately be associated with positive, and not negative feelings!

      Good luck with your recovery. It is so difficult, I know I constantly have to remind myself that every day is a new chance to make things better.

  5. at least you’re getting a venti? i’m not familiar with the ed reasons, but i eat the *same* foods over and over because of my food allergies and being too lazy to actually cook/make something. not necessarily the best for me either as i will settle on boxed cereal that i know i can eat, not the most nutritious.

    1. Yeah, I used to say to myself “at least I’m getting a grande!” Yesterday, I thought the same thing, “Well, at least I’m getting a venti! That’s the same amount of calories as a breakfast could be.” For me, anyway, the ED reasons mostly have to do with being comfortable with these foods, and considering them “safe”, in that you can eat them and still lose weight. Technically, I guess they could be anything, as long as you convince yourself that this is what you should be eating in order to continue losing weight (you kind of develop a fear of other things because they aren’t “tried and true”).

      1. i guess they’re kind of the same. i suppose i have an idea of what it’s like. back when i counted calories i tended to eat the same things since i already knew how many cals there were. which i guess is the same thing as what you’re talking about. i quit counting cause i caught myself “competing” (with myself) to see how few calories i could net for the day… obviously not a good thing. then i laxed on counting and gained all that weight back and now i can’t seem to shake it off again. it is weight i should lose for real – i can definitely afford to lose 5-10 lbs and still be at a good, healthy weight. (just saying it’s not weight i think i should lose)

  6. it’s amazing to see you have the ability to pause for a moment and truly look into the roots of your issues. being honest with yourself is not an easy feat and i send major congratulatory claps/hugs/whoops (imma nerd) in your direction! deeeefinitely know about safe foods. i go back to mine whenever i am feeling particularly uneasy (carrots. hummus. lettuce. and maybe some crackers. that’s just about it. so pathetic). but, like you, i take a moment to realize this habit and then take another moment to examine WHY i am suddenly doing it again and what is really bothering me. (i also have to do this with exercise, as it was compulsive for about a year. ugh.). usually it comes right down to self-love and feeling worthless, something else i unfortunately know about, too…

    when this happens, i try to remember i’m being ridiculous. i try to recall all the love in my life. i try to realize the standards i hold myself up to i never hold up to anyone else i love. and self-love? well, it’s the most important love. because without it, we can’t really love fully in all other aspects of our lives. i know you’ll get there. just remember how loved you really are! and how worth it you really are. for health, happiness, and love!

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