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Yeah…Immaeatthat

Apr 29

Gaining ‘the covid-19’

Thanks for those on Instagram who requested this post topic. Gaining the ‘covid 19’ got a lot of requests, so I went with it over a post on how I approach so much Whole30 going around right now. If anyone wants my thoughts on Whole30, just let me know in the comments section and I can share what I think there.

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There have been so many jokes about gaining ‘the Covid 19’, similar to jokes about gaining the ‘freshman 15’, which I addressed previously. The main thing I’ve been thinking about as weight gain fears are more present now on the news/social media is how grateful I am for intuitive eating because it grows your body trust. Body trust is your body having a need (step one is simply being aware of that need) and you giving your body what that need is.*** Body trust is also trusting your body to find the size it is meant to be. In the Anti-diet book, Christy brought up the idea that maybe for some people body trust is a better goal than body love or body acceptance. I agree.

Here’s how body trust works…

My body is tired —> I notice it is tired —> I give it rest. (Not, my body is tired –> I force it to exercise. Movement is to rejuvenate the body, not exhaust or deplete it.)

I have to go pee —> I notice I have to pee —> I go pee.

I’m hungry —> I notice I’m hungry —> I go eat. 

If you have an eating disorder, rebuilding body trust is a slow process.

Something I hate about your eating disorder is that it takes away your ability to listen to your body and to trust you body. Food becomes a feared object. The very thing that nourishes life triggers a stress response in your brain as if an emergency is happening when you sit down to lunch. You think, how can I get away from this pizza (aka the identified object of panic). Through working with a dietitian and therapist trained in eating disorders, this shifts and you get to a place where food doesn’t give you a stress response or to a place where you can talk your brain through it.

As said above, the first step in trusting your body is noticing what your body is asking for. Period. That’s it. The next step is noticing when your body is asking for something and you don’t give it that thing. A growth step here is being honest with yourself about when you are depriving your body of a need it is asking for. For instance, instead of saying “oh I’m not hungry” is the reason you’re not having lunch, saying, “my body is hungry but I’m choosing not to feed it.”

Then, the following step is seeing what beliefs/rules/thoughts are coming up in your head around honoring the need and separating the thoughts from your body sensation. In a presentation I heard Evelyn Tribole give, this means, “disentangle the thought from the actual bodily experience.” For instance, some of you may be thinking, “I shouldn’t be hungry. I just had a meal.” That’s a thought in your mind, but not your body sensation. Your body sensation says it’s hungry. It’s annoying to have to eat sometimes, but it isn’t wrong.

Now back to the weight gain piece of this. Body trust is also knowing that by caring for yourself your body will find the weight it is meant to weigh and you trust your body to find that weight. Yes, you may still desire weight loss, but desiring isn’t the same thing as pursing weight loss. Pursuit of intuitive eating isn’t this land of rainbows and joy and ease, but as reader Monica commented with this Geneen Roth quote recently, “This is going to be hard, but what we are doing is already hard. We don’t get to choose hard versus easy; we get to choose freedom vs. fear.”

So, one thing I love that ED recovery and intuitive eating has given me is that I can trust my body. I’m not worried that I’ll gain weight during this time (I might.) because I trust that my body can find the size it needs to be based on what I’m going through at that time. Right now I feel so stressed, I imagine you do to? But my goal in life isn’t to avoid weight gain. My goal is to take care of my body. The more I take care of myself the more I am managing my stress levels, which is a goal of mine. Marci Evans shared on Instagram that nervous system management is a better place to put energy than weight management.

How do you know if your nervous system is working overtime? I follow Kat Devos on Instagram and she posted this helpful graphic..

For me, I’ve noticed sleep disruption, heightened emotionality, and hypervigalence. Every noise I’ve heard lately I’m sure it’s one of my children choking and I startle and freak everyone out. Ugh. I haven’t felt this level of frenzied since the early postpartum months and I’m not loving it. I can also feel the nervous system overwhelm with how tight my chest is and how shallow my breathing. The below is a bodily sensations map that shows where many feel certain states. You can see that stress has the chest and GI area lit up.

So really, this post is just an entire plug for intuitive eating. If you aren’t already practicing it, I encourage you to read or listen to Intuitive Eating, Anti-Diet, or, for those of you who have read the first two and are already practicing Intuitive Eating, Body Respect.

To end, I wanted to share some bad quarantine diet advice I’ve seen… 

Bad advice #1: “Fill up on vegetables or water when you feel hungry”.

my opinion: Fullness is not the absence of hunger. Fullness is the absence of hunger combined with satisfaction, pleasure, and a disinterest in food. Filling up on vegetables, fiber, or water creates confusion for your body and fear when interacting with food.

Bad advice #2: “If you can’t stop snacking, close the kitchen at x time.”

my opinion: People don’t have a compulsive eating problem. They have a chronically undereating problem that leads to out of control feelings with food. Permission to eat is the answer here. Permission to eat any time you are hungry or when a particular food just sounds nice will solve this feeling of “I can’t stop snacking.”

Not bad advice, but just a reality: “I have no appetite.”

my opinion: I feel this. My appetite hasn’t been the best lately. It sucks to have no appetite, but you still gotta eat. I just got and started reading Salt Fat Acid Heat, and it’s spurred a little itch to have more fun in the kitchen and find more pleasure in food, which Andrew and I are enjoying. Now, he’s planning to make homemade fish and chips and I want to throw out my iodized salt and make pretty much anything with sea salt.

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***For my Christian readers, I think there is an interesting conversation to be had here about desires of the flesh vs. instincts and how diet culture contributes to us thinking our instincts are wrong. To come in another post!

25 comments on “Gaining ‘the covid-19’”

  1. I would love to hear your opinion on whole30. I can’t escape it – for some reason people who do whole30 feel obligated to tell everyone that they are doing it. But this article is also needed. I am currently fighting anxiety surrounding possible quarantine weight gain, and I needed the reminder that my weight shouldn’t be my focus during this time.

    • My opinions on Whole30 are it’s unnecessary and, apart from introducing tasty ways to eat vegetables and new foods, I don’t think many people benefit from it. A person can just set a “new recipe a week” challenge to bring in new foods…it doesn’t have to be a 30 day deprivation fest. If someone has an ED past they should never do Whole 30. I’ve read the creator of Whole30 struggled with a drug addiction and, since people don’t get addicted to drugs for no reason, maybe there are still some deep pains there that dieting in such an extreme way allowed/allows her to cope with. IMO dieting is an improvement from drugs, although not the end point. I have a lot of empathy for people just trying their freaking best to be a human..and for some I think avoiding carbs and the other foods Whole30 has you cut out can help them escape/distract from the pain in their life. But Whole30 isn’t where healing is going to happen. Obviously not everyone who dinks around with Whole30 struggles with a drug addiction or deep hurts, but I think it’s important to know the origin of the diet. I bring this all up because I think many people need a way to cope right now. They need a savior. They need something to distract them and Whole30 can be that thing, even if I think it’s a waste of time other than people getting to add some new tasty recipes into their life.

      One question I ended up asking a friend who’s doing Whole30 was: Is it for weight loss or health? And that ended up leading to a conversation about how health promoting behaviors bring health regardless of body size. And other times when I’ve asked that question the conversation goes no where and I’m fine with that. Honestly, I don’t enjoy working when I’m not working (I think there’s a deeper issue here for me but haven’t figured it out yet), so I tend to not engage in Whole30 conversation and rather try to change the subject. But if a friend is on Whole30 and I’m bringing them dinner, I wouldn’t mind making them a Whole30 compliant dinner because they are an adult and can make their own decisions for their own life. People who do Whole30 in my life are smart, educated and fascinating women and I want to love them well…but not every interaction I have is to bring them over to my belief system. I’m against dieting and elimination diets for the majority of people because of what the research tells us and because of what I’ve lived through, but I’m not on a mission to bring everyone over to what I do. If someone seems like they’re suffering I want to help, but otherwise I let them be.

      As a Christian, a question I’ve thought through is, “Is it morally wrong to do Whole30?” I think it depends on the person and their intentions for doing Whole30. Mainly I’m like, praise God it’s not my job to judge and he probes the human heart, not me. If they believe it will improve health that’s one thing; if it perpetuates an idol, that’s another thing. I’ve found that if one’s worth is highly influenced and determined by their body size, that’s hard for me to be around. In terms of friendships, I’ve had a difficult time being friends with those individuals and haven’t always handled those relationships as loving as I would like to. I tend to be most judgemental of the sins that have kept me enslaved the longest (pursuit of smallness/comfort from smallness) and this is *just* something I’m able to notice and make sure I’m intentional about voicing my opinions on these things and love of the person regardless of these things so friends don’t read the blog and feel like I’m judging them for their choices, as that could be confusing for people since this blog is anti-diet and for people with eating disorders. It’s like what all the non-diet dietitians say, “we’re anti-diet, not anti-person-on-a-diet,” but that is a tough distinction for the dieter and for me sometimes.

      And I’ll end with, when the behaviors of a person on Whole30 are the behaviors of your eating disorder, it is really challenging for those in ED recovery to be around them and boundaries will be necessary if you decide to continue the relationship.

      What do you guys think?

      • This is such a thoughtful, good response! I share all of these sentiments. I too have to really protect my energy around dieters bc it is so emotionally exhausting for me. I also really nodded my head when you said something about noticing feeling bothered by the behaviors that have kept you enslaved the longest…I couldn’t agree more. I tend to be more empathetic to those who are suffering and desire to improve their life by ditching diets/disordered behaviors, but people who are very much committed to that lifestyle I STRUGGLE to be around. It just reminds me too much of a lot of painful experiences in my life, and I just don’t want any part of it. 

        Also, I’ve had some dialogue with Melissa (creator of Whole30), and sadly I came away from the exchange very much convinced she doesn’t desire to understand the world of disordered eating. I have a hunch this is because she doesn’t want to…it would hurt her business. Even after sharing stories with her about how much damage has been done due to her “plan”, she was unwilling to hold any responsibility. My hope was that she would be open to putting out info to protect the vulnerable consumers and lessen the chance people would damage their relationship with food after doing her plan. Well, her response was that she already has disclaimers about EDs available on her website and in her books.  When I looked at these disclaimers, they are not helpful. They basically say that people who have had EDs can still do Whole30 but must first consult with a professional. I find this advice to be, quite frankly, ignorant and selfish. I am sure she is not a bad person, but she is very much unwilling to admit Whole30 has hurt people, and she is unwilling to take the steps to mitigate the very real possibility millions more will be hurt in the future. It was a disappointing conversation to have, though I was happy she was willing. That said something at least. 

  2. Love this post!! I’d also love to hear your Whole30 opinion. I actually think that doing Whole30 years ago was the reason that I developed disordered eating patterns, and it makes me sad to see so many people continuing to restrict themselves using the parameters of that diet.

  3. I love this post. The quote/phrase that always runs through my head is something Robyn/thereallife-rd said in a video a million years ago: “Eating is an act of self-care.” If my appetite is poor, or if I don’t think I “should” be hungry but I am anyway, I alwayyysssss think of that quote! I know that I can be eating out of self-care because my body needs it. Body trust is also huge, and such a shift when you first start thinking about it! I’m definitely not in a place where I can say I ‘love’ my body, but I’ve come to realize that I want to be in a place where we’re at peace with each other. I want my body to trust that I will feed it when it’s hungry, and I want to trust it to function in the amazing way that I know it can. It’s a never-ending journey but it’s so worth it. Just for an interesting anecdote: something I’ve found food freedom with this quarantine is peanut m&m’s lol. It’s really freeing to have a bag of them around, and know that they’re just fat/protein/carbs. If I’m still hungry after lunch, I’ve been eating a palmful of them to round out the meal and found that to be really physically and mentally satisfying. Thank you for all that you do, Kylie!

  4. Looking forward to your upcoming post about desires of the flesh vs. instinct!!😊

  5. As an RD I also have a problem with the random eliminations of whole30. Healthy foods are off limits for no evidence based reason, the rules are arbitrary. 

  6. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Kylie! I was really interested in the bodily sensations diagram in this post. Where is this diagram from? I’d be curious to read more about how it was made. 

    Thanks!

  7. Very informative post! I’m very interested on your view about desires of the flesh vs. instinct. We are taught that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and should take care of it both physically and spiritually. I have the bad habit of comparing myself to people in smaller bodies and wonder if I’m doing something wrong, even though I know people can be different sizes and still be healthy.

  8. I’ve really enjoyed this! As someone who has gone through eating disorder recovery, and as an intuitive eater I know that I usually need to eat every 2-3 hours. I’ve listened to so many people commenting on how they’re always snacking during quarantine and I just think “I haven’t noticed any changes in the timing of when or what I eat” and try to brush them off.

    It really has brought me a sense of peace and comfort in a time where there doesn’t seem to be a lot of that. I’m so thankful for recovery and that I can trust my body rather than try to control it (especially now, and all the time)!

    Thanks for all the work that you do! You were one of the first blogs I found in recovery and have followed ever since :)

  9. Thank you for this thoughtful post! I have been too frustrated with the messages circulating about weight gain during this time/ jokes about being more sedentary at home and how this = weight gain… So unhelpful! God created our bodies to know what to do and take care of us! He is in control of this circumstance and I don’t think he is using it as a means for us to spiral into worry/ hypercontrol over our eating/exercise, rather, to confront that lack of control and surrender the discomfort to him.
    The hardest thing is that some of these jokes I’ve seen about weight gain have straight up come from messages within the church context! It’s sad to see how engraved this culture is in places that should be seeking to comfort and uplift instead of instill fear/ be fatphobic. If I had seen these messages 5 years ago in the trenches of my ED, they most definitely would have encouraged all the more ED behaviors. We are in the midst of a crisis, and while I think in all times we need to be gracious and kind with ourselves,, even all the more so it is important especially now, when as you mentioned, our nervous systems are working overtime!

  10. My version of your current experience in being surrounded by people doing/promoting whole30 is with intermittent fasting. This was so triggering for me earlier in my intuitive eating journey, but now thankfully I’m able to practice the mantra “that is for them, not for me” and move on without feeling nearly so triggered. However, I’d appreciate any similar insights you might have about this other very popular and harmful diet trend.

  11. Wow – Onstead of saying “oh I’m not hungry” is the reason you’re not having lunch, saying, “my body is hungry but I’m choosing not to feed it.”

    That is a huge game changer for me right now. Like you, I haven’t been as hungry throughout this or I will feel extra hungry (like my body is making up for the little food it had the day before) but I have those diet culture thoughts telling me that I ‘shouldn’t’ be hungry. Reframing it like you have suggested is a fab idea. Thank-you for sharing

  12. I’m really just your #1 fan. So grateful for the wisdom you share. Some days I feel mostly recovered, and other days I think I’m back in the thick of disordered eating again. With quarantine, it’s easy to have all of the emotions that come with those mindsets in the course of 1 day. (Lots of time to think and feel these days.) Thank you for being a resource that keeps me centered.

  13. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on desires of the flesh vs. instincts. As a Christian RD this is something that’s on my mind and I find myself working through!

  14. As always, encouraged + challenged by your words. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kylie!

  15. I’m really curious about your comment about using sea salt and throwing out the iodized salt… why! What’s the difference?

    • Soo apparently (to a sensitive palate) it tastes metallic! There’s nothing wrong with it and I’m not actually going to throw out our iodized salt, but I am excited to play around with some different salts!

  16. Your article is just great. All right to the point. How many important thoughts we don’t think much about.

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