I got sober in January of 2015 and I’ve been in recovery from an eating disorder since November of 2015. Yep, 2015 was a big year. The action of being in recovery looks different every day. Today, alcohol and I do not struggle. On occasion I’ll have a fleeting thought that a drink might be nice or something will happen that makes me crave the relief from just one drink. Usually when I think that way about booze I remember I am sober, check myself and move on. The eating thing…that is an entirely different beast.
Last year at this time, I was educated by a team of very smart therapists, doctors, and nutritionists about eating disorders – specifically binge eating disorder. I was taught how to go through a day of planned eating with scheduled snacks. With this plan, I moved swiftly through the days…even with the emotional turmoil that is life as a working mom, friend and wife. I was able to have loads of snack foods at my disposal, even in my pantry (the favorites were peanut butter pretzels, peanut butter M&Ms and chocolate peanut butter ice cream.) I divided these snacks into normalized portions in little plastic baggies. (except for the ice cream of course ) At snack time I would eat a portion and move on. I was done eating and THINKING about eating.
My disease has morphed. It tries to sabotage me. I tricks me into thinking I am normal. I have noticed in the past few weeks that I grab at the peanut butter pretzels at will and I ask the husband to head to the store to pick up chocolate peanut butter ice cream whenever I want it. These foods in and of themselves are not bad. I don’t vilify food. But, unplanned eating is dangerous to me. If I pre-commit to a snack – whatever it is – I can eat it without judgement.
When I grab the unplanned food, I know this is not what recovery looks like. But what I tell myself is that “I am WAY far in recovery and I don’t need to plan and pre-commit. I can eat whenever and whatever I want.”
Last night, after I had gone through the day of planned eating, I absentmindedly/knowingly grabbed a handful of peanut butter pretzels, realized what I was doing and still proceeded to shove some in my mouth. I did this knowing that the action was counter to my recovery. In the next few minutes, I started to feel the guilt and shame of being “owned” by a food. Why wasn’t I as strong as I was a year ago?
Instead of finishing off the rest of the bag, I took the remaining peanut butter pretzels, put them in the sink, got them super wet and soggy (cause you know, if they were dry and crispy I might chase them down later) and washed them down the drain. After that, I felt safer.
It’s true, a year ago I could keep those foods around and they wouldn’t faze me. Recovery looks different today from how it looked it did last year. It will be different three weeks from now. What I have to do today is make sure I create a safe space around food. Today, I can’t have my obsessive foods in my house. I have to be intentional and aware with food because we need it to survive.
These are some rules I try to follow to stay present and active in recovery.
- I do not pay for alcohol…it’s a slippery slope.
- I don’t hang out in bars…unless there is a group and I have control of leaving.
- I do plan my meals and snacks….it’s a slippery slope.
- I do stick to this plan…it makes life so much less complicated.
- I do reach out to people who struggle like me…they have saved my life…over and over.