Tuesday, December 27, 2011


When you experience disordered eating, you have a hard time accepting that you do it.

You want to fix it, you want it to GO AWAY.

Something is wrong with you and it needs to be removed.

While I think it's okay to want to better yourself, I think you also can't fight with yourself constantly and make an enemy of yourself. You need to be able to accept "where you are" and then move forward from there.

I constantly fight with myself and have a high degree of self-loathing for feeling "weak" enough to have disordered eating habits. I get mad at myself and hate the way my body looks because I don't "have the willpower" to stop. I have distorted body image and low self-esteem. I then start to feel like I deserve to feel this way and be unhappy because I can't "fix it".

Before you change something, you have to accept that it's there, right? It might be there for a long time or never go away. It may be something you are constantly dealing with and working on. I think that once you acknowledge that this "something" is there, you can, to a degree, work "with it" instead of having this constant battle with, well, yourself.

My name is Shannon and I have an eating disorder.

IE fears

In psychology, there is a term called "all or nothing thinking". It is pretty much what it sounds like; something happens all the time or never.

In IE, this can be a fear in the sense of being afraid you will do something all the time:

If I let myself eat whatever I want, I will want sweets all the time.
If I practice IE, I will never lose weight again.

The first fear definitely applies to me. Because I have such a sweet tooth, I am afraid I'll never not want cake/ice cream/candies/etc. So, I decided to really see if this was the case by watching my journal while trying really hard to be mindful and eat intuitively. Here's what I ate yesterday:

coffee with milk and sugar
(no breakfast because I got up late)
taquitos with sour cream and salsa
1 square of peppermint chocolate
roll with peanut butter and honey butter
1 Pepsi
2 bratwurst, steak fries, and baked beans
cup of eggnog with whiskey


It appears I had chocolate once and then you could potentially count eggnog as a sweet. But I ate a lot of other things. I am, in fact, not eating sweets all the time.

Sounds kind of silly now, huh?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Gifts We Give.

Please see this very powerful post by Blog con Queson


I was totally shocked by the interaction she witnessed but really applaud her brave actions! A reminder of how early body image distorton can start and also, how far kindness can go.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Morality of food.

(trigger alert)

I had this internal conversation with myself yesterday:
"I really should give up soda. It would be an easy way to cut calories and it's really not good for me. I should just stick to tea. Huh. If I drink coffee with cream and sugar, isn't that the same amount of calories as a soda, or maybe more? But coffee has "health benefits". Tea and coffee are always seen as "good for you" and soda is bad..but I like soda, dammit! What's so bad about it?"

I then asked my husband to "indulge my neuroses" and asked him why food is so morally weighted. He responded thusly (keep in mind there is some humor meant):
"You've never been to Europe, right? In America, if I'm at a bar and there is last call and I think about having one more drink, someone will say, 'Are you sure you should have another one?' When I was in Estonia and this happened, my friends would say, 'Well, why shouldn't you have another?' The Europeans shipped all the Puritans over here and we are stuck with those leftover values. If it feels good, it must be bad for you. Especially for women, you shouldn't indulge or enjoy things too much, whether food, alcohol, or sex. It's unseemly. But, in my opinion, food is food and life is short."


I had never thought about how much cultural values really affect my daily behavior (I mean, really, who thinks about sociology on a daily basis?) But it really is true. Think about people who live life on a large scale; they enjoy their food, they may be a tad raucous/tacky, they enjoy a drink and may even come across as very sexual beings. These kinds of people make us uncomfortable. Growing up, I learned not to be "too much", whether too loud, sexy, or, of course, fat. What's funny is that I am at the heaviest weight of my life and my husband loves my body. He wants me to be sexy and enjoy life and food and not worry so much. I think it can be really difficult to break through these ingrained ideas, especially if their are propagated by family, friends, or the media in general.

So, I try to continue being as intuitive as possible and be caring for my body by honoring my cravings, hungers, or hankerings and not feel one bit of guilt. It almost feels like giving myself a hug.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


As a woman, I have a lot of guilt.

Working mom guilt, only child guilt, lack of exercise guilt, food guilt.

It sucks.

How do you get away from it?

My husband says I need to be more assertive and take more time for me.

What a concept.

Why is it that women have such a hard time taking care of ourselves? Shouldn't this be part of mindfulness? By being more mindful, I should be more aware that I am not taking care of myself. I am overly tired, stressed, and sore. But I hate asking for help, whether with my baby, my work, or my mental health. I feel guilty for "burdening" someone else with my needs. I then end up self-soothing with food and, guess what? More guilt!

I'm tired just typing about it. Oh, and I feel guilty for not realizing all of this and taking better care of myself.


I am going to make a concerted effort to check in with myself more often and ask, "What do you need?" (Isn't that what being intuitive is all about?) Hopefully I can figure it out, take action, and ask for assistance when that's what I do need.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Intuitive Exercising

I have always hated exercising.

Usually, it's a punishment for overeating or a "discipline" for working towards weight loss. It's never been for the joy of movement and the health of my body.

Since my pregnancy, I have very much been off the exercise wagon. I just physically wasn't able to and have had some back and hip pain since giving birth. I've had to be really careful about what kind of exercise I do and really listen to my body about what movements help and don't hurt.

This is definitely a new place for me. Before I go to the gym, I really think about what exercise sounds the best, almost like thinking about what sounds good to eat. I'll then do those exercises and check in with myself frequently: Does this feel good? Any pain? Am I wearing out? Can I do more?

It feels wonderful to be this mindful during exercise instead of just pushing through and pushing my body harder than it wants to go. Instead of worrying about what muscles are getting toned or what parts of my body may get smaller, I think about where I am getting stronger or how I am getting more endurance. It can be a challenge to focus on these things instead of worrying about whether or not I am "making progress" but I guess I am making a different kind of progress now.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

IE Challenge Moment

Today at work, we had our Holiday Luncheon. They have these every year and it's a nice gesture from the company.

For those of us struggling with IE, this can be a huge challenge. Please be aware this post may be a tad triggering.

Here is a list of the food items available:
salad with croutons
3 kinds of dressing
cheesy mashed potatoes
sweet potato casserole
green bean casserole
cranberry sauce
vegetarian penne
pumpkin pie
apple pie
whipped cream

I am just tired and overwhelmed from typing that!

I tried to go in with a plan. I originally was going to avoid dessert but decided to just be as intuitive as possible. Here's what I ate and my reactions:

Salad--I love salad and think it's a great start to a meal and thought some veggies would be a good idea! I avoided the croutons because most croutons suck anyways. I chose an non-creamy Caesar dressing. It was pretty good overall and I wish I had gotten more!

Green bean casserole--I LOVE green bean casserole. I got a small amount because I didn't want to fill up on one thing. Unfortunately, this turned out to be fairly greasy. Blehh. I ate my small amount but it wasn't very good. I probably should have left it on my plate.

Turkey--They served two slices. I also got a bit of gravy. It was average. Turkey isn't my favorite thing anyway but I didn't want pork and wanted some protein with my meal.

Sweet potato casserole--Also, another food I love. Sadly, this was gritty and bready tasting. I left it on my plate.

Cranberries--I got just a taste of this, all I really want of it but I really enjoyed it!

Pumpkin pie--Another favorite with a spoon of whipped cream. It was wonderful and I enjoyed it, although probably didn't need to eat the whole piece.

When I finished, I wasn't really full but I also didn't really enjoy the food beyond the salad, cranberries, and pie. I talked to a coworker who also didn't enjoy the meal. My take is that, because the food is free and it's a special occasion, there is a huge tendency to eat mindlessly. I think I did a fair job of being mindful despite the disappointment of a mediocre meal.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Roadblocks to IE

In Intuitive Eating, you are encouraged to eat what you want, when you want. This is a scary concept for a lot of people, including me. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. You don't know what you want. Suddenly, the world of food is wide open. Too many choices! It can be like tightrope walking without a net.
  2. You don't know when you're hungry. Dieting and disordered eating can really mess up your hunger cues. I have found that just trying your best is the safest!
  3. You have food habits that are not in line with IE. You always eat breakfast or dessert, even if you are not hungry. You like to drink soda, even though it has no nutritional value.
Number 3 is the hardest for me. It takes a large amount of mindfulness to overcome. I really enjoy soda but find that it really spikes my sugar cravings and then this can start a guilt cycle if I "give in". Also, if I don't have soda, I feel deprived. For me, there is a fine line between being mindful and intuitive and not feeling like I am dieting.

Stopping Diet and Fat Talk.

You know what I'm talking about, especially you ladies out there.

"Oh goodness, I've gained so much weight! I need to go on a diet!"
"Have you tried [insert diet here]?"
"I look terrible! I need to lose some weight!"


These conversations are the bane of my existence. They are extremely anti-IE and anti-ED recovery. I have been trying to find some cryptonite for this negative self-talk.

"You do not need to lose any weight."
"Your body just [had a baby/had surgery/other important thing]. That is amazing and you should appreciate what your body can do for you."
"I am very anti-diet."
"You don't need to diet."

I haven't gone so far as to say, "Diets don't work." (even though it's true) This one is hard because usually these conversations occur in a group and pretty much everyone else is supporting or echoing the conversation. It becomes intimidating to be so against the grain in that respect and I am afraid of upsetting or offending anyone.

Hopefully as I get farther along in my own recovery, I can become more assertive with these ideas.

How do you handle fat and diet talk?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Journal Entry

It's been a while! Journal Entry time!

One comment I will make is that because I eat most of my meals at work, I have to pack my breakfast, lunch and snacks the night before. I do my best to think of what sounds good but this is obviously a limitation in my IE. Flexibility is definitely key and, for me, eating when I'm hungry becomes most important at work (as opposed to when I'm bored, tired, or stressed).

8:45am On the way to work, hungry! Obviously, I'm in the car so have to wait until I get to work.

9:30am Arrive at work. No longer very hungry. My tummy feels a little off so I decide on a cup of hot, black tea. Mmmmm.

10:00am Finally feeling hungry. I packed a sandwich of leftover steak on wheat bread with a little barbecue sauce. Score one for remembering protein for my morning meal! I eat this leisurely and enjoy it.

11:50am Feeling hungry again but don't necessarily want lunch. This is weird because, well, it's lunchtime. I fight the urge to eat my lunch and try to figure out what sounds good. An apple! I have a little Gala apple and it's tart and sweet and crunchy. That with some water hits the spot.

12:00pm I ate about 2/3 of the apple and was just "over it". I decided to wrap it up and maybe save it for later.

1:00pm Lunchtime! Very hungry now. Have Top Ramen packed for lunch. Not the "healthiest" choice but very yummy and I love a warm lunch. I also have a side of thawed frozen broccoli; I love it cold and with lots of salt.

1:20pm Ahh, feel full and satisfied after eating all of my lunch. After most savory meals, I want a little something sweet. Also wanting a little pick me up, I decide on a small cup a Pepsi with lots of ice. I love my soda extra cold.

1:55pm Hmm. Had two sips of my soda. I have been drinking it regularly for years, diet and regular. I really tried to focus on the flavor and found, well, ehhh. Also, I found myself developing an intense sugar craving. I decide to set it down and drink some water and relax for a few minutes, especially since I am definitely not hungry right now.

2:30pm Exercise time! Thought I would put this in here since I think it is definitely part of IE and HAES. I was undecided about what kind of workout I wanted to do. Normally, I would pick a run (cardio burns calories) or weights (tone that flab!). Instead, I decided to really think about what sounded like it would feel good. I decided on a hill walking workout on the treadmill followed by some situps (to strengthen my abs since they are a mess after pregnancy!). It was great and I left feeling refreshed.

3:30pm Back to work, hungry and thirsty! Water please! I go ahead and refill my water because I can get lazy about getting up to refill (the break room is way down the hall) and then get dehydrated. I do think the ramen gave me a little indigestion, blehh. I am wanting some carbs for energy after the workout, will start with my chocolate mint granola bar (one of those weenie granola bars) and see if I'm still hungry after that.

4:10pm Still hungry. I am vaguely bored and tired but definitely have "empty stomach" feeling so decide to finish my apple.

7:00pm Arrive home after a particularly stressful afternoon. I make a beeline for the liquor cabinet with the plan of making a rather large cocktail. Okay, IE or not? I think we could argue either side but I sure felt better afterwards. :) I also had a small serving of ravioli for dinner. I am typically not terribly hungry at dinner and enjoy a later evening snack.

8:30pm Hungry! At this time in the evening, the baby is usually down (at least for a bit) and I like to have a little treat to end the day and curb my hunger. Mmm, leftover key lime pie. I really enjoy a sweet treat in the evenings and do struggle with some guilt about it. I am always hungry when I eat it and when I have tried to veer to another kind of food at this time, I find myself very unsatisfied. Yay for IE and food satisfaction!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ideal Eating Disorder Recovery Vision Exercise

The above title is directly from the Help for Eating Disorder web site.

The article discusses creating an Ideal Vision of your eating disorder recovery.

Here is the exercise:
  • What does it feel like?

  • What are you doing?

  • What are you telling people?

  • Are you maybe helping others?

  • You are supposed to answer them in the present tense, as if these things are happening right now. Kind of inspiring and motivating! Ok, here we go:

    What does it feel like?
    I feel great, confident, and comfortable in my body. I feel at peace and less anxious. I feel like I have succeeded.
    What are you doing?
    I am eating intuitively and mindfully. I am moving my body is a loving way. I am taking pride in my appearance and being considerate to my body, taking time to acknowledge and appreciate the things it does and can do regularly.
    What are you telling people?
    I am NOT talking about weight loss, dieting, concerns about my weight, or "feeling fat". I am talking about the joy of food, exercise and other more important life matters. My interactions are more genuine and less distracted.
    Are you maybe helping others?
    Yes! I am stopping diet talk and negative body talk. I am offering suggestions for healthier body image and discussing HAES and intuitive eating. I am also helping others by my improve attitude and providing more positive interactions with them.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    The Holidays.


    The Holidays. Yes, it deserves to be capitalized. They can be such a bear for folks suffering from disordered eating.

    Fear of overeating. Fear of bingeing. Fear of observation and/or comment by others. Fear of gaining weight.

    Feeling fat.

    For me, the biggest triggers are fear of being impolite by not eating enough, having people comment on my food choices, and feeling fat afterwards. I just tried to focus on my own food and enjoy my choices and the holiday season, understanding that even if I overeat/feel too full, that is okay.

    What are your holiday relapse prevention tricks?

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Normalizing food.

    In IE and HAES, food is not really supposed to have a value: good, bad, healthy, unhealthy. It's just food.


    Anyone that has a history of dieting or disordered eating knows this can be very far from where we are. One practice is to simply eat the foods until you don't want them anymore (not necessarily gorging yourself but just eating them regularly until they lose their appeal).

    I have been doing this lately, and it's terrifying.

    Your irrational mind tells you that you will never stop eating it and you will get FAT.

    Nevertheless, I kept on doing it. Every time over the last week that I have wanted candy or soda, I have had it.

    I didn't gain weight.

    And now, I am disinterested. I also do know that if I become interested, I will have some.

    But, wow.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Journal Entry

    I think it's high time for another journal entry!

    8:30am Woke up with hip pain, take Motrin. I have to eat something carby to avoid nausea with Motrin. I am not really hungry but decide on a flaky biscuit with a little grape jelly. Yummy! Unfortunately, this drives up my blood sugar a little high; I have discovered I do better with more protein than carb in the morning.

    9:30am Definitely feeling the need for protein, decide to stop at my neighborhood Bojangle's for some chicken strips. I also decide to get a soda. I had "sworn them off" again but decide to break that habit and get a Dr. Pepper. When I get to work, I devour the majority of the strips. It came with a yummy biscuit and I eat about half of that. I get full and leave half a biscuit and one chicken strip.

    11:30am Feeling a little hungry. Finish my breakfast foods. Wanting a little sweetness, grab a snack pack M&Ms (there is always candy around the office). Fight some feelings of guilt about the candy but try to consciously enjoy their chocolaty goodness.

    1:30-2:00pm Getting hungrier for lunch. Have had kind of a grazing day. Workday much busier so eating bits of lunch as able (chicken, broccoli, brown rice). Eat about 1/4 of it at this time.

    4:00pm Post workout, definitely hungry. I have a protein shake planned. Bleh. It's sweet and I don't want to waste it so I'll drink that and go from there. Although I did grab another snack size candy on the way down the hall as a backup. :)

    4:15pm I finish about 3/4 of the shake and throw the rest away. I bought the protein powder during my "relapse" and it's just depressing me to drink. I complete my snack with a snack size box of Milk Duds. Nom nom.

    7:00pm Hungry for dinner. Egg salad sandwiches and chips planned. Eat 1 sandwich, a handful of chips, then off to baby duty.

    I had a sweet craving later but baby duty called. I wasn't really hungry anyway so no dessert tonight.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Consequences of Dieting.

    Disclaimer: this is all my personal opinion. I am not a doctor and this post is based on personal experience only.

    I have a lot of odd little medical conditions.

    Irritable bowel. Heart murmur. Hypoglycemia. Hiatal hernia. I had Gestational Diabetes while pregnant.

    Sometimes, I wonder whether a lot of these could be attributed to years of dieting and disordered eating.

    My mother, who dieted most of her life, has severe osteporosis and degenerative back problems. She also suffers from almost every single condition I listed for myself.

    It really makes me sad to think I could have damaged my body in this way. Even worse is the thought of still wanting to alter my eating habits despite any potential consequences. I'm really afraid to end up like my mom who, at almost 60, still restricts her eating (although she'll tell you she eats "healthy") and is in almost constant back pain.

    It's tragic how much we abuse our bodies in the name of thinness.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Wanting to lose weight. Losing sanity instead.

    I may have said some of this before but it seems like it needs repeating for me.

    I am actively trying to lose weight. (Shame!)

    I am 5 months postpartum and about 10lbs heavier than my prepregnancy weight (I know, so not a big deal) and about 20-30lbs heavier than what I would like to be my ideal body weight. A lot of the weight remains in my belly area; this is where I typically carry any extra weight and is an area I am very insecure about. Rationally, I do understand this is not a lot of weight. That does not make it seem any less significant.

    I just rejoined the gym at work (go, discount fitness! $30 for six months, woohoo) and am trying to plan out a workout routine. I think this is where it all started.

    I started researching workouts. I wanted to find something to improve my functional strength and endurance. Unfortunately, I ended up getting linked to a bunch of web sites more focused on diet than exercise. I got drawn in to one site that strongly touts its eating plan, although it does have a pretty good looking workout regime. There are pages and pages of archives. It was all downhill from there.

    While talking about working out, eating habits, etc to my husband and mother-in-law last night, he made a comment about me "being on one of [her] health kicks". This really struck a chord with me. While he didn't mean it in any kind of negative way, "health kick" sounds like something temporary to me. Like a diet.


    I think I need to make a relapse prevention plan. A diet relapse prevention. I really need to get a hold of my warning signs and triggers. Might as well start somewhere!

    Relapse Signs
    • researching diet and exercise routines
    • change in mood (particularly feeling depressed)
    • trying to drastically alter my eating habits
    • restricting
    • not eating intuitively
    • comparing myself to others
    • judging others' eating and exercise habits
    It's really a shame how much of a cycle this becomes and how much of my life it can consume when there are so many more important things to focus on. Today, I am purposefully skipping the gym and going to run errands with a coworker to work on self-care instead of focusing on my body today.

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Do I want it?

    One of my flaws is that I do things too quickly.

    At work, this does make me very efficient (and surprisingly without errors) but in my personal life, it's not such a good thing. I tend to get uppity very quickly and "ramp up" verbally and mentally. It gets to the point that it almost feels like an out-of-body experience.

    With eating, this is obviously not a good thing. Part of intuitive eating and mindfulness is taking your time. I want to try and take more time, especially with my food choices. I am going to try and ask myself the following questions, especially when I'm feeling ramped up:

    Do I really want this?
    Am I really going to enjoy it?
    How will I feel afterwards?

    This may seem a little tedious. I do think the first question is really the most important. Mindless eating can be very dangerous, especially regarding aftereffects. By taking just a moment to evaluate what I am really wanting, I hope to focus my attention more on my food choices and make sure I am really digesting my food, physically and mentally.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011


    Lately, I have been hearing a very quiet voice in my head.

    No, you do not need to call the doctor. :)

    It's very quiet but it is commenting on my food choice and my body's reaction to them.

    I don't always listen to it, particularly when I'm stressed and wanting to emotionally eat. But when I do listen, I feel more satisfied and like I ate what my body needed, even if it seems like an abnormal choice.

    For example, I really crave protein in the morning. I don't have time to make a whole breakfast so I've just been making a sandwich. But that's lunch food, you say! Yes, but it's what works for me right now.

    I have also noticed what doesn't work for me. As I mentioned before, too much salt triggers a sugary craving, and vice versa. Soda tends to make me sleepier, despite how much I enjoy the taste. :)  These are definitely things I need to keep in moderation.

    A work in progress, for sure. I'll be listening closely in the near future!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    "Last Supper"

    There is a thought process called the "Last Supper" mentality. Have you heard of it?

    Basically, it's the idea, typically before starting a diet, that you'll eat what you want because, tomorrow, you'll start eating "better/healthier/less". You then may overeat to compensate for what you won't get or have a sense of scarcity about what you may or may not be able to have.

    I feel like I do this fairly regularly, especially since I tend towards restriction in my eating habits. Whenever I eat something "bad", I mentally plan to restrict the next day.

    At this point, I am almost forcing myself to eat more "bad" foods in the hopes of breaking this thought process, to remind myself that, look, it's still there and I can have more! I think so many years of restricting are causing this process to take a little while but, hey, I'm enjoying my eating in the meantime!

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Journal Entry

    I think it's time for another Intuitive Eating Journal entry!

    SO tired. The tiny one kept me up most of the night with tummy troubles. I think I managed about 5 hrs. NEED COFFEE. I need gas anyway so I run in for a cup since gas stations always have good coffee. I like mine light, tried the vanilla creamer, not bad. As usual, I'll nurse this throughout the day, or at least morning.
    I also suddenly became ravenous and craving protein. I had a carb-heavy dinner so I think that may be why. I knew I only had yogurt in my bag for breakfast so I decide to grab an egg and cheese biscuit on the way to work. I devoured it on my commute. Nom nom nom.

    Starting to get hungry. On a conference call at work but start mentally planning my lunch. I have a bratwurst and hot dog bun as my "entree", will eat that and then see what else I want once call is over, hopefully any minute!

    Finished 3/4 of my bratwurst and then decided I was done with it so threw away the rest. Feeling full for the moment, may have a snack in a short while.

    Feeling hungry but also have a bit of a tummyache. I think it was from the coffee, ugh. I like it but it and the creamer don't always like me. Bleh. Will sip on a soda and eat a cheese stick for now since I'm wanting something a little salty.

    Feeling better but still a little hungry. Tried a Gala apple. Ate a few bites, found it mealy and just not tasty. I have discovered I am fairly picky about apples. Oh well. I feel like I have wasted a lot of food today but I guess that's better than eating food I don't enjoy.

    Still hungry (a cheese stick and few bites of apple do not a snack make, especially since I had a small lunch). Still wanting salty, popcorn it is! A perfect soda accompaniment.

    Ate about 2/3 of bag, don't want anymore popcorn but craving something sweet. I notice this when I eat popcorn, maybe it's too salty? I eat a snack-sized bag of dried cranberries. I feel a little guilty because I feel like this is more of a sweet tooth thing than a hunger thing but I do really enjoy them. Maybe I will stay away from popcorn for a while. I finish about 2/3 of my soda and feel satisfied for several hours.

    HUNGRY. Our dinners get delayed nowadays due to the baby. We decided on just a quick frozen pizza. I was craving some veggies so I also made some frozen broccoli and added some salsa. I had 2 pieces of pizza and about half the broccoli and felt satisfied. YUM.

    Wanting something sweet, as usual. Feeling a little peckish, I decided on a small bowl of chocolate ice cream. The husband actually had some Ben and Jerry's that I sample and decided it is SO much better. I think it may be important, particularly with sweets, to choose quality over quantity and really savor the experience.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Emotional vs. Intuitive Eating

    I have an enormous sweet tooth.

    I could, pretty much, eat sweets any time, day or night. I crave them during any emotional state: happy, sad, tired, hormonal. I find myself overeating them when I'm stressed.

    What is the difference between Emotional Eating (EE) and Intuitive Eating (IE)?

    Sometimes, I am not sure. IE doesn't dismiss EE but rather allows it and requests that you look at your actions objectively, without judgement. I hate the fact that I emotionally eat and can't seem to break the pattern. I find a large amount of comfort in food and it is my go-to stress reliever. Unfortunately, this can become an icky cycle of overeating, shame, guilt, restriction, and...begin again.

    I think, maybe, the point of IE is to remove the shame, guilt, and restriction to help break the emotional cycle. If you fully allow yourself to eat whatever, whenever, in a loving way, the need for EE diminishes. I have always found that when I don't pay close attention to (I mean scrutinizing) what I eat/don't eat, my EE and general overeating is lessened. Which, I guess is the point.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011


    Well, I guess that's how it goes. Ironic since my last post was a step forward. One step forward, one step back sometimes.

    Here's what happened: I had a "fat" day. I have not been able to exercise very consistently in the last week or so because my dear child keeps changing her sleep schedule. Two nights ago, she thought she'd have a party from 1-4am! When I don't exercise, a little switch in my head gets flipped and I start obsessing about my food intake and worrying I must be gaining weight. Irrational, I know. I also gave birth only four months ago! *headdesk*

    I started demonizing my favorite foods--sweets. I decided I must CUT IT OUT. Smart, I know. I even deleted this blog, thinking that IE must be for weenies and I needed to toughen up and cut out the foods I love the most. Yes, I can be a tad impulsive. :)

    This morning, I had a realization about how much I abuse my body. I insult it, dislike it, restrict its food intake and try to control its every move. I diminish its needs by thinking I am too self-absorbed in even worrying about it. I cause myself so much undue stress worrying about gaining weight. I put that in italics to emphasis its dramatic nature and how ridiculous it must really be.

    So, I am currently enjoying a candy bar because my body was craving it, despite my trying to please it with other, "healthier" options. And I will enjoy every last bit of it. My new goal is to enjoy my life, my body, my food, and my exercise instead of abusing, diminishing, and demeaning it.

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    A Corner Turned

    On one of the hallway file cabinets at work, there sits a candy dish. It is filled daily with different candies. I have had a variety of reactions to the dish:
    "Ooh, I really want a fun-size Snickers but I really shouldn't!"
    "Delicious candy, nom nom!"

    Today, however, was different.

    I walked by the dish and saw my favorite candy: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I felt my eyes widen and went to grab one. Then, I stopped and realized I wasn't hungry and didn't really want any candy, so I continued on my way. It wasn't until I had walked a few steps that I realized the shift.

    Normally, I would almost never pass up such an opportunity, fearful they wouldn't be there again, or at least have some kind of guilty, self-denying reaction. Instead, I just felt uninterested and happily continued my day.

    Baby steps, folks. :)

    Trigger Words

    Last night, I was telling the husband about a coworker who I only ever see eat salad at lunch and fruit for snacks. I told him that it made me feel a little self-conscious because I snack all day and eat a heartier lunch. He commented, jokingly, "Well, she doesn't have crappy discipline like you!"

    Obviously, I became somewhat upset. He tried to explain himself: "Well, you have good discipline about working out. It sounds like she has ironclad willpower about what she eats, not that that is a good thing."


    Now, don't get me wrong. My husband understands my disorder very well and is extraordinarily supportive. However, he sometimes says things in a way he doesn't mean.

    I had to explain "trigger words" to him. For me, "discipline" and "willpower" are on that list. I highly associate them with restrictive eating and dieting. I always hated them, particularly because I never thought I had any willpower. I explained to him how it made me feel like the other woman, who appears to be highly restrictive, was "better" than me because she had what he referred to as discipline.

    The positive part of the conversation was that I got the opportunity to explain intuitive eating to him and how I am trying to practice it more consistently by really listening to my body's needs. He understood and supported the concept and made an interesting comment: "It sounds like it's about not letting the food control you."


    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    "Good" food vs. "bad" food

    Ahh, the eternal debate.

    I am definitely of the opinion that there is no such thing as moral value for food. Now, just because I have this opinion doesn't mean I always practice it. It can be very challenging to not have a reaction to eating the salad versus the burger or having the cake over the fruit cup. If you have dieted, you know the significant values (Points, anyone?) placed on food.

    If you want to value food at all, I definitely support the notion of looking at what may be good or bad for you. This means what foods make you feel good, which ones make you sick, or which ones you just plain don't like. For example, for me good foods include:
    Ice Cream
    Hot dogs

    Bad foods (particularly ones that upset my stomach) include:
    Green peppers
    Chewy fruit candies (Mike & Ike's)
    Most frozen vegetables

    Obviously, they are morally "heavy" foods on both lists but some "healthy" foods make me sick. I find this an easier and less stressful perspective to take with food, as it forces me to look at my own needs and limitations as opposed to societal values on food.

    Workout videos: motivating or offensive?

    As I've mentioned before, I do workout videos fairly regularly. I get them from my cable ondemand and free is always good! Unfortunately, I have to take what I can get and they usually consist of whatever is trendy at the moment by the popular workout gurus. For example, I did one this morning by Denise Austin.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Denise. She can be a little annoying with her energy level but I typically enjoy her workouts. However, this morning's video really struck me. Here are a few of things she said:

    "No more jiggle when you wave goodbye!"
    "This will help that bra overhang!"
    "You'll look great from behind!"
    "You'll look good in a few weeks!"

    I'll stop there. Only once in the entire workout did she mention anything about health or strength, and it was tagged on to the end of a statement about appearance. Maybe it's just me being more sensitive but I was really disappointed that there wasn't more focus on health and strength during what I thought was a pretty good workout routine. Denise is not in the minority, either. Most of the workouts focus on improving appearance versus health.

    I understand that this is the reason why a lot of people exercise, but I would love to see the instructors focus more on how their routine is improving my strength and health versus how much better my arm jiggle will look. Leslie Sansone seems to be one of the few that really focuses on health through exercise. I am sure there are others that I am not aware of but will be keeping an eye out!

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011


    Soda and I have a long and mildly weird relationship.

    Okay, slight tangent for a moment.

    Is it weird that I refer to having "relationships" with food items? I feel like it is. I think it may have to do with my significant history of emotional attachment to food. I am going to try and think of another word to help lessen the emotionality but I think, to a degree, it works in the context I am trying to convey.

    Back to our regularly scheduled programming!

    I grew up drinking soda. It always always diet (usually Diet Coke) because that's what my mom kept in the house. I have never seen her drink a regular soda in my entire life. My dad drank regular on occasion but it was nothing I saw often. I grew up believing that regular soda was a waste of calories and was terrified of it.

    In the last few years, I developed somewhat of an intolerance to artificial sweeteners. They upset my stomach and started to exacerbate my hypoglycemia. My husband drinks regular soda and always kept it in the house so I tried it. And really enjoyed it. It also helps tremendously with my hormonal migraines (was actually recommended by my gynecologist!).


    I still have this little voice in the back of my head screaming about empty calories and too much sugar. Recently, I even tried to switch back to diet, to pretty bad results (low blood sugar crashes, excessive hunger, for example). I tried to cut it out altogether in an attempt to be "healthier". But it's just one of those things I really enjoy. Keep in mind, I don't usually drink more than 1 soda a day, but I still have this weird reaction like I'm doing something wrong when I drink it and would be thinner if I didn't. My husband tells me, "It's just one soda," but processing that through eating disordered thoughts can be easier said than done sometimes.

    I wish I had an easy answer.

    Daily Journal

    I thought I would try out a daily eating/exercise journal to see how it goes!

    Wake up to exercise. A little sleepy but know the exercise is important to my mental health for the day!
    Decide to do a stretching video since I did a strength training workout yesterday.

    The baby awakens! Workout cut short but feel good that I did a little something.

    Baby back to sleep but time to get ready for work!

    Hungry. Was going to wait and eat at work but hungry now!
    Small bowl of raisin bran with whole milk, glass of water.
    I don't drink lowfat milk. I like whole milk and lowfat milk is kind of triggering for me.
    Feel satisfied but not full, figure I will have a snack later in the morning.

    Stop to get gas on way to work (after dropping off the baby). Feeling a little hungry, craving something sweet and carby. A muffin, perhaps? Go into the station store and peruse, decide on a cream-filled donut. I LOVE these and get them very rarely (can never find them!). 99 cents, I'm feeling good!

    Finally to work! Traffic was terrible this morning. Run to get my morning coffee. Wishing I had real creamer instead of powdered but will make do with what is available (add real creamer to grocery list). Coffee is really strong but will drink it for the caffeine boost! I munch on the donut over the next hour, as I usually am very busy right when I get to work.

    Finished with donut, only a quarter through the coffee. Going to heat it up and add more creamer, just too bitter! Not feeling satisfied from the donut but will drink some water and continue to sip on my coffee and then see if I'm still hungry! I am notorious for feeling hungry when I'm really tired or thirsty.

    Running errands, literally! I actually worked up a bit of a sweat on my extra-long lunch break.

    Lunchtime, finally! This is a little late for me so I was famished by the time I sat down to eat. Sadly, I eat at my desk but this is the main option I have these days. Lunch was a turkey cutlet and a bit of mashed potatoes and corn. I tried not to wolf it down but was still hungry afterwards and craving something sweet, so I had an applesauce. I didn't feel full but thought I'd wait and relax a bit/get some work done to assess whether I was still hungry or not. Also, I always drink water with lunch because I find anything else (soda, for example) gives me a false sense of fullness.

    Feeling fuller and mostly satisfied, toying with the idea of an afternoon snack. Continuing to sip on my coffee and enjoy a little down time while waiting for phone calls. (I drink 1 mug of coffee over the course of the day.)

    Busy spell at work over, starting to feel hungry. One problem I regularly experience (like today) is not wanting the snacks I have. There is a vending machine here but that gets expensive so I try to pack a good variety of snacks to broaden my options. Today, raisins are sounding good so starting with that!

    Hungry again. Obviously, raisins aren't the most filling snack. Leaving work in 25 minutes so going to wait and have dinner when I get home.

    Planning caesar salad, pasta salad, and leftover turkey cutlets. I eat my caesar salad but then the baby wakes up!

    Baby playing on her own but I realize I'm no longer hungry. I put the rest of my dinner away.

    Hungry again. Really wanting ice cream but feel like I should eat some "real" food first. I think I had this idea that I would eat too much ice cream or not be full if I ate only ice cream. I had a small bowl of pasta salad and then a bowl of ice cream.

    Rats, still hungry. I guess that's what happens when you don't finish your dinner! I eat a granola bar and finally feel satisfied.

    I think the thing I have to be careful of is not questioning my hunger too much, as I'll tend to restrict. Then, I obviously end up hungrier later. I also have a strong emotional attachment to sweets so I try to restrict them as well. Not sure how this really makes sense....well, I think it's leftover diet mentality. For me, when food becomes too important, I have this irrational fear that there won't be enough and I want to overeat.

    I also want to focus more on enjoying my food. In reality, this is a challenge since I eat a lot of my meals at work and have an infant at home to care for. I will still do the best I can in each moment.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Supermodel Small?

    courtesy of BodyLoveWellness


    Like most things, exercise and I have had a love-hate relationship throughout the years.

    I was never an athletic kid; I hated sports and refused to play them. My mom always tells the story about how I adamantly refused to play tee-ball at the age of 4. Obviously, sports were not in my blood. I did roller skate and bike ride and play outdoors like most kids, though.

    I remember the first time I "exercised" though. A lot of my disordered thoughts and behaviors started around age 11. I remember doing crunches to have a flat stomach. I don't think I really understood why yet but I do remember getting praised by my grandmother for having such a flat stomach. At 11.

    As a teenager, exercise became fairly regular for me, mostly running and workout videos. It was primarily part of my dieting regimen or as a compensation for eating. I HATED it. This continued throughout college until it bordered on exercise bulimia in graduate school. Even after I started recovering from my disordered eating, the unhealthy relationship with exercise continued, particularly as compensatory for food.

    At this point, I exercise because I have to. Let me explain. I don't particularly enjoy exercise; I would much rather watch tv or sleep in. But I know if I want to keep intrusive ED thoughts at bay, I have to do at least something almost every day. This could be stretches, kickboxing, or strength training but when I don't exercise, ED thoughts start creeping in and I start thinking about dieting and other unhealthy behaviors (yes, in my opinion, dieting is an unhealthy behavior). I don't look at exercising as compensatory anymore, just part of my self-care, as important as brushing my teeth to maintain my health.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Intuitive Eating Principles and Health at Every Size

    I thought it would be helpful to review the Intuitive Eating Principles and what my challenges are with each.

    1. Reject the diet mentality. This is really tough if you have ever been on a diet. There is usually some initial success and that can be addictive in its own right. At my job, they have Weight Watchers at Work. When I returned from maternity leave, it was extremely tempting to sign up; however, I feel that I have enough support to provide a reality check that DIETS DON'T WORK.
    2. Honor your hunger. If you have ever dieted or have had an eating disorder, this can be a toughie. Your hunger cues can actually be, well, messed up and there also can be different kinds of hunger. For me, there is bored hunger, the munchies, dessert hunger, tired hunger, and good ol' fashioned hungry.
    3. Make peace with food. Dieting tends to make food the enemy or the mistress. Food obtains a value, good/bad, healthy/junky, for example. As HAES notes, food should not be moral. I find this difficult with sweets in particular. I have a huge sweet tooth and it's my go-to comfort food so it has this "guilty pleasure" connotation. What a horrible phrase, "guilty pleasure". Just look at it. So, I should feel guilty that I am enjoying something?
    4. Challenge the food police. Whoops, I think I just answered this in my above rant.
    5. Respect your fullness. Mindfulness comes into play big time for me here. It is easy to mindlessly eat or comfort eat, and you may not even be hungry. I am trying really hard to assess my hunger level throughout the day and during meals.
    6. Discover the satisfaction factor. To me, this goes back to taking the guilty away from pleasure. I'm no Puritan! I need to find the simple pleasure in eating and eating things I enjoy.
    7. Honor your feelings without using food. This one is a little tricky for me and may be a little contentious between IE and HAES. I tend to look towards somewhere in the middle. I think some comfort eating is okay but it shouldn't be your go-to coping mechanism because, otherwise, emotions and problems may be ignored and simply fester. You should be allowed to soothe yourself with a nice meal or snack if you want to and enjoy the comfort it provides.
    8. Respect your body. If you've had disordered eating, this can be tough because you may be unsure what your natural size is, or your natural size may be something different from what you want it to be. It may also take some time following intuitive eating to discover what your natural shape is.
    9. Exercise-feel the difference. Definitely a good thing. No matter your size or ability, try to find some joyful movement. It can be a challenge to turn workouts into fun versus punishment, compensation, or illness (i.e. exercise bulimia).
    10. Honor your health-gentle nutrition. This one is also a iffy to me. It has a good idea with saying that, basically, you shouldn't freak out if you think you haven't eaten "well", or your idea of well. But it has this tone of compensation I don't like (what you eat over time is what matters). I strongly disagree with this. I'd like to think of this, for me, as trying to eat what makes me feel good and honoring my body's signals of hungers and its cravings. My body knows what it needs and wants even if my disordered thinking tries to argue sometimes.

    On a simpler level:
    Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:
    • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
    • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
    • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.
    (excerpted from http://www.haescommunity.org/)

    I am going to be shying away from some of the prescriptiveness of IE. HAES seems softer and gentler to me and is definitely more where I'm at right now but I think both can be useful in their own ways.

    Getting real.

    Welcome! I thought I would do a little introduction of myself to start things off. Here's a sort of top 10 list:

    1. I'm 29, will be 30 in November. I am actually kind of excited about it.
    2. I am an only child. My mom has really bad fibroids and was unable to have any more kids.
    3. I am an air force brat. I've lived in 2 countries and 5 states.
    4. I am a social worker. I specialize in substance abuse and severe mental illness. Right now, I work for an insurance company (the line is that I've "sold my soul". Really, direct care just burnt me out.)
    5. I have a significant history of disordered eating and distorted body image.
    6. I suffered from bulimia in graduate school and have done numerous diet plans.
    7. I recently had my first child, a girl.
    8. My mother passed on disordered eating to me. Every woman in her family has disordered eating patterns and I am determined to break the chain.
    9. I have a very supportive and understanding husband.
    10. I love all things gothy and Steampunk. (you can also visit me at Steamgoth Geek)
    I plan to use this blog as a sort of food and exercise journal and a place to process my challenges and successes. I am going to try and focus on Intuitive Eating as my frame of reference, as well as Health at Every Size.

    Disclaimer: While I am technically a mental health professional, this blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health or substance abuse condition. This is a personal blog for personal use. Also, please be forewarned that some of the information on this blog may be triggering if you have disordered eating patterns or suffer from an eating disorder.