For years, my ED has taught me to deny my hunger, to ignore it. Once I began the recovery process, finding this hunger which had been buried deep down was a tricky task. It can take months for a “true hunger” to return- it took me about 8 months to truly feel hungry again every few hours throughout the day, or between each meal. However, now that I have overcome this struggle, a new challenge has arisen. The hunger is present, which is great, although now I must actually listen to these hunger cues. I cannot push them aside anymore. This is both incredibly liberating as well as terrifying. What if I am still hungry after I eat? What do I do then? Am I “allowed” to eat more? And if I do go ahead and I am brave enough to in fact eat some more, what happens then? Will ED have a tantrum? Will my world fall apart? These are the questions that go through someone’s mind everyday during recovery.
I had an interesting moment today. I ate breakfast…Greek yogurt + berries + cinnamon + almond butter…but I was still hungry. I drank some water and trucked along for a few more hours. Finally, I decided I was too hungry and had an early lunch after the water was not cutting it- a salad + egg + egg whites + pumpkin seeds + a dollop of hummus. You’ll notice all my meals so far have been rich in fiber, healthy fats and protein- my satiety warriors. Now, I feel pretty good after lunch, definitely not full, but not hungry. I then decide to go out and do some shopping. And what do you know- just two hours after lunch and two full water bottles down post-salad, I. FEEL. STARVING. What is going on?!? I question my body (my first mistake). I have a ‘Kind’ nut bar at the end of shopping, assuming that all of the healthy fat and protein will diminish my hunger. I drink more water. I drive home.
I want to try some of the new organic cacao nibs I bought while shopping. So, I BRAVELY, and I mean bravely, have a small bowl of vanilla coconut milk ice cream + a few blueberries & raspberries + some cacao nibs (which were super yummy, by the way!). I walk down to the lake (I’m at my cottage), talk to my Mom for a second and then come back up to the cottage. I am still legitimately ‘stomach hungry.’ Not a false kind of ‘hungry’ or a ‘I really feel like this or that’, or ‘I’m bored.’ No. Like, ‘my stomach is screaming at me,’ kind of hunger. Sooo…I steam some broccoli and asparagus and microwave 1/3 cup of egg whites. I eat this with hummus and salsa. Awwhhhh… FINALLY!!! My stomach sings, it smiles. My body is finally satisfied- but still not ‘full.’ And then…dun dun dun… ED decides that 3, THREE (!), afternoon snacks is WAYYYY too much. I start to feel the anxiety creeeeep in. I feel hot and my breathing increases. “This is so stupid!!” I think. “So you had three freakin snacks?? WHO CARES!!” I turn to my family and voice how I am feeling. I have learned throughout recovery that some moments are best fought alone, while others require a little extra support. This was one of those moments. THIS WAS A BIG DEAL. I have not let myself continue eating to the point of satiation for YEARS. I became emotional, partly due to some fear, but mostly because I just felt so FREE. FREE from my disorder. I defied it and I WON. And I was ok. Better than ok actually, FANTASTIC!!! I felt wonderful!!
I am realizing through this journey that although there are some scary moments, these are the ones which cause me to grow the most. I hope that if I feel this kind of unrelenting hunger again that I can stop, think back to this moment and remember how good I felt. Nourishing my body is not meant to elicit fear. It is meant to provide me with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, amino acids- all things which are necessary in order for my body to function. And you know what? Nourishing my body is also meant to provide me with pleasure. Food is delicious and eating should be an enjoyable experience. I will continue to make it an enjoyable experience…and I hope you will too. Balance, my friend. I will get there, one step at a time.
Much love and health,