I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I (Lacy) was diagnosed with an eating disorder when I started seeing a therapist last summer after the death of my father.
From a purely scientific perspective, it’s been a fascinating process — looking at all my weird idiosyncrasies when it comes to food, discovering the strange rules I’ve created for myself around food and trying to identify whose voice is really echoing around in my head when I hear negative things.
When I’m feeling less scientific, the whole thing sucks major monkey butt.
Through the therapy process, we’ve discovered a lot of things. I discovered that I tend to swing violently from restrictive dieting to anything-goes eating pretty regularly. That I get very resentful and pissed off when presented with a restrictive diet. That I end up feeling angry at myself when I eat whatever I want.
That the middle ground is tough to find.
Right after my dad died, I tried the Whole30 reset plan, with pretty good results. It’s kind of like super-Paleo, where you eliminate almost any food that could possibly be causing an inflammatory reaction in your body.
But after I was done with my 30 days, I went back to eating pretty much the way I was before. Maybe with slightly more zucchini noodles.
A few weeks ago, my therapist asked me to go back on the Paleo diet — not for any nutritional or dietary reasons (she’s not a nutritionist) but because it would eliminate pretty much all of my preferred comfort foods, and I would have to find other ways to cope with challenging emotions.
The result? I got blindingly pissed off. Really, really angry.
Soooooo…. Super restrictive dieting? Yeah, not for me. At least not right now. There may be a point when I can (as my sage therapist says) think of certain things as “not my food,” but that day is not today.
Adding instead of subtracting.
Then, this past week, I read something that really popped my eyes open for me. It’s from the book, “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts”:
Let me explain why I refer to the change that you want to effect as “adding on.” It is easier to add a good habit to one’s life than to discontinue a bad one. Why? Think about it for a moment. Isn’t it much more difficult to say no to yourself than yes to yourself? I think so. […] One of my [students] recently lost a lot of weight rather easily. Her method was adding on exercise and adding on “crunchy chews” — bags of carrots and celery and other vegetables that she would snack on all day — to her daily habits. This [student] told me that she owes her success to adding on, rather than subtracting from her life. This makes sense to me. We are greedy — more feels a lot better than less.
This makes sense to me too. And I realized I had already been doing it with exercise.
A couple of months ago, I got an inexpensive gym membership, and I’ve been going more or less regularly ever since. (If you know me at all you know how monumental this is.)
And what’s crazy is that it’s been really easy. I found a time and place that worked for me, and then I stopped beating the hell out of myself when I missed a day. I didn’t create any huge monumental 90-day plans, or try to commit to doing an hour every single day.
I go about four times a week for anywhere between 25 and 45 minutes at a time. And it’s perfect for me. It feels like a positive addition rather than something negative or punitive.
So when I read that passage up above I wondered, “Why can’t I adopt that same sort of attitude about food, too?”
I can add in a fruit and veggie at every meal.
I can add in some healthier versions of recipes I already love.
I can choose to make a slightly better choice, like ordering the small fries or having a piece of dark chocolate instead of a cupcake.
And suddenly I feel so much better.
We’ll see how it goes.
Win/Win/Win Paleo Banana Muffins
Saturday morning, for example, I was craving banana bread. So I broke out a Paleo cookbook and adapted a recipe to make these muffins. They were perfect: They satisfied what I wanted, gave me pleasure, and were pretty healthy to boot. Win/win/win.