Recovering from an eating disorder can be frustrating. After my body had been confused and starved for so long, it really didn’t know what was normal anymore. It didn’t know what my real post-puberty weight should be. It didn’t know if I was hungry or not, or whether my body liked or didn’t like exercise. It didn’t know whether my cycle wanted to return, even when I wasn’t exercising very much and eating plenty. It was especially difficult for me as someone who has always a control freak.
For a long time, my eating rocketed up and down with my emotions. If I thought I ‘looked fat’ I would go on a ‘self controlled’ diet (where I thought about food all the time) but didn’t allow myself to eat more than a certain amount. If I was okay with how I looked, I ate normally or even occasionally, overate, just ’cause I could. My eating was driven more by my emotions, than the inbuilt signals of hunger and fullness.
My weight didn’t like that. I know it didn’t. I do not define myself by the number on a scale, but I’ve finally found a happy spot, that my body, my cycle, and my hunger likes. How did I find it? I found it by eating. I ate when I was hungry. I didn’t eat a 3rd salad, if I thought my body probably needed something more like a piece of bread and peanut butter. I learned to appreciate the tool that our body is and the amazing intuitive abilities it possesses. When I finally stopped worrying about whether I was eating too much or ‘too little’ but I listened, my weight started to stabilize. The less I got on the scale and stared in the mirror and measured my waist, the more freedom I found, in my mind, emotions, and body.
These past 6 years have been a test in trust. They’ve tested my trust in the in-built signals that God gave me to tell me when I was hungry and when I was full. They have tested, ultimately, my trust in God who fearfully and wonderfully designed my body, trusting that my perfect Heavenly Father did not make a mistake.
I hated the ups and downs of recovery. There would be days that I would feel great, and I wouldn’t think about my body or my eating at all. There would be other days that this was the only thing I focused on, but what was the one thing that I think truly restored my body?
1. I had to give up my mindset of control. I had to step back, listen to my hunger signals, exercise sometimes, and desist at other times. I had to stop obsessing over food and being grateful for it.
It was almost inexplainable, when my period returned after years of not having it. I’m not sure exactly what I did, but I do know that I actually started to listen when my body said that it was hungry. If I was going to bed, and I was still hungry, I didn’t try to trick myself into not eating. I went and got a little snack in the kitchen and munched on it while reading a book, talking to my family, or just listening to the sounds of a quiet house.
It’s okay to have midnight snack of icecream with your sister. . . Add some extra nutella and thank God for yummy nutella and peanut butter. If you have a chance too, you should go over to Julia’s post @ Lord Still Loves Me, called ‘I ate an Entire Pint, and Nothing Bad Happened.’ I <3 her, and I particularly loved this post.
I even occasionally find myself becoming rigidly stuck in ‘safe breakfasts’, and I find that it’s time to branch out and get some cereal or a doughnut or pancakes or waffles, because God made everything GOOD!
This cereal? It’s really yummy.
I didn’t continually try to go to bed, just a little hungry, so I could keep my weight from yo-yoing UP and down. The nights that I wanted to get on the scale, I had to resist. I had to close the door, put on my pj’s and climb into bed without thinking, ‘What if I gained weight cause I think it looks like it?’
These were just a few of my idols that lingered from struggling with my eating, but I am so thankful that God worked on me, purging, cleansing, and restoring me, to thankfulness for the food He had given me, my body He created so that I could move and live and love Him.
I honestly feel more freedom than I have felt in a long time about my eating and exercising. The urge to go ‘exercise’ to burn calories burns dimmer and dimmer, as I realize just how exercise, by itself, is not that important. I love to move. I love to be outdoors, but exercise for the sake of just being fit doesn’t fill me anymore. Dieting for the sake of losing weight doesn’t make me happy.
Being a child of Christ, being loved and forgiven by Him is what fills me. It makes me whole. It makes me who I am. 4 digits on a scale don’t make me. The amount of calories I eat don’t make me, but the love and gratefulness that God has given me for His infinite love are what has truly healed me and shown me the worth of a home with a Heavenly Father.