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!