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.