I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other morning. When I saw this quote that just made me say “ABSOLUTELY’, this is it.”
“You don’t need a cheat day when your relationship with food is intuitive and respectful. “
I can’t tell you how often in my fake recovery phase (yes, fake recovery is a thing and we are going to get to that in a bit. ) I would fantasize about the “forbidden” foods I was going to have during my cheat meal of the week. Legit, mouthwatering, drooling, eye gazing fantasies of all these foods I would not allow myself to have on a normal day.
Fake recovery is something I did for years. I faked my recovery so hard that even I believed it. Fake recovery is exactly what I described above. It’s the ongoing obsession with how much, how little, how many; the counting of calories, and if I have this how will I compensate? It’s continuing to give food the power to control your life.
For me, my fake recovery was a recovery in progress, disguised as "full recovery" to the outside world. I may have decreased my behaviors, but the obsession was still there, and the rules weren’t as strong, they were there and they were not very flexible.
I was still very much listening to my Eating Disorder voice and although I was able to do many things that had once crippled me, I was still very much a prisoner to the thoughts and the desires of what my eating disorder desired.
And on the chance that I was able to bend a rule and do the opposite of what that awful eating disorder said, the guilt and shame was almost unbearable and I wasn’t able to shake it off. It still had this disastrous way of destroying my day. My mood was still very much fueled off my weight being a certain number or what I did or did not put into my body that particular day.
As fake recovery transitioned into real recovery here are some of the things I observed:
When you don’t label food as good or bad, and you just call it food, the power you've been giving food seems to diminish.
If you want something, have it. If you deprive yourself something, you still want it. You can only trick your body for so long until the control is lost and you end up having the cookie you were trying to avoid. Instead of having just the cookie, you have 10 cookies, and a container of ice cream.
Allowing yourself to have what you want, when you want lets your body know that you are listening and you are providing. Your body doesn’t have to panic and head into survival mode.
Some days I want carrots for snack, and sometimes I want chips and salsa. Some nights I want pizza for dinner, and other times I want ice cream. If you know me, ice cream is my jam. Even last week I asked my boss to switch a work ice cream event to different day because I was unavailable when it was originally scheduled and truly, i was not about to miss out. (Also,a perk of being an adult and a mom is that I make the rules, and ice cream for dinner or even on on occasion breakfast is totally a thing.)
Allowing an "all foods to fit" mindset into my “diet” give me the variety and ability to completely intuitively eat and trust myself and my body to know what I need and what I want.
While It certainly did take a long time to be able to get to this point, I am thankful I was able to get here. If I can get here, You can too. It takes a lot of opposite action, a little radical acceptance, and a lot of distress tolerance. You have to talk back to your eating disorder. You have to show it who is boss. The eating disorder voice can be hella loud, but you have to be louder. Scream if you need to. You've got this.
Brenna is an eating disorder recovery speaker, mentor, advocate, and writer. Brenna works as mental health counselor at an eating disorder treatment facility in Massachusetts. She is also the ambassador for the Boston Chapter of Project HEAL and a volunteer with MEDA. For more information about Brenna, learn more about her on our Blog Squad page