What is your disordered eating making you miss out on?
While on our trip, I started reflecting on similarities I see among my eating disorder clients. One thing that stuck out to me was the number of clients who cook their oatmeal in water. (Stick with me here. I promise I’m going somewhere with this.)
One of first changes I encourage ED clients to make is to switch from cooking their oatmeal in water to cooking their oatmeal in milk. When I first see a client, they are all eating oatmeal because it’s a “safe food” for them because society has deemed it as one of the few carbs that is acceptable to eat. The reason I make the water to milk switch is to 1) help the client move towards not undereating at breakfast, 2) increase the protein content of their breakfast, 3) help them get in some calcium, and 4) because holy heck it just tastes better.
Once the client has made the water to milk change, they come back and tell me something along the lines of, “holy crap why haven’t I been doing that all along? I’ve been missing out! It’s delicious! Such a game changer!”
When they say this (clients tell me on a weekly basis!), I always think/say, “if you think adding milk to your oatmeal is a big deal and it brings you joy…what else have you been missing out on because of your disordered eating?”
Milk in oatmeal is such a small switch to make. If that rocks one’s world, holy cannoli just think what is waiting for you when bigger switches start to happen. What’s gonna happen when your entire mindset moves away from disordered eating and body hatred? What’s waiting for you when your mindset is one of taking care of your body instead of trying to manipulate your body’s natural size?
For me, two of the things that I was missing out on due to my ED/disordered eating were 1) feeling like I’m flowing with my body’s instincts and 2) feeling at home in my body.
(psst. she the below photo? I bought a turtleneck sleeveless sweater thing and I love it!)
Here’s a little more explanation on two of the many things I was missing out on…
- Feeling like I’m flowing with my body’s instincts: The majority of the times nowadays, I feel like I’m in such a rhythm with my body. I listen to my body’s instincts by honoring my hunger and fullness cues. I don’t overthink eating when I’m hungry any more than I would overthink going to the bathroom when I have to pee. I’m hungry…I eat something that sounds satisfying. I have to pee…I go pee. I feel very engaged and connected with my body. I’m very mindful of what it needs and how I can take care of it best. When I was in my ED, I couldn’t have cared less about what my body was asking me for. (If you’re interested in learning about the 2 types of hunger and how to discover what your body needs, read this You have two kinds of hunger post.)
- Feeling at home in my body: I finally realize that being healthy doesn’t guarantee thinness. In recovery I felt like there were parts on my body I was dissociating from. In a podcast I listened to recently (I don’t remember which one!:/) it talked about how we can choose to not embody parts of our body. So if you hate your arms, you could choose to dissociate from them. You’d do your best to not think about them. For me, my arms and stomach were the parts of my body I choose not to embody. I mentioned in this video I started embodying and connecting to the natural size of my belly my resting my hands on my belly after yoga and feeling my belly rise and fall.
If the idea of touching your stomach overwhelms you, that is okay. Be patient. Body image is the last thing to improve with ED recovery, but I do think it is worth starting to practice good body image now. I don’t believe you recover from disordered eating by first making your food normal. Then making your exercise habits normal. Then thinking about working on body image. A lot of this work needs to happen simultaneously.
I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to get a conversation going in the comments section from those who are in their eating disorder/disordered eating and those who are recovered from disordered eating. What do you think your disordered eating is making you miss out on currently or made you miss out on in the past?