Two weeks ago I couldn’t fall asleep, I was distraught, uncomfortable and crying. I knew that the Emily Program and overcoming an eating disorder would be a long process. A process that had to start with abolishing all food rules and learning to listen to my body. Then, I slowly learned to listen to my body and I learned the guidelines for fueling my body with what I need…and without judgement.
I spent about 2 months eating what my body craved and wanted, learning to be comfortable with not worrying about food. That worry slowly subsided and my brain felt so much clearer, I felt so much better with everything day to day. My general anxiety lightened up….but my body didn’t…I went up about 2-3 sizes. I had to go back to shopping at Lane Bryant, I had to put away all the cute clothes that I got in 2012 when I lost all that weight…
Now, I don’t hate myself for that, I love myself for getting over an eating disorder and for doing what my brain needs. I could have continued on with diets…and lost weight, not gained weight…but I would have just yo-yo’ed again, its inevitable with my eating disorder history. But, even though I’m happy about the progress in my head, I was incredibly sad about what it did to my body….I was ready to just quit the Emily Program and go back to Weight Watchers…or something…..I wanted the blob attached to me to go away!!
My husband recommended that I tell exactly that to my dietitian, that I was done with putting on and maintaining weight, I needed to start working towards a weight loss goal immediately or I’d have to leave therapy. At first I was so nervous, I didn’t want to lose my therapy or my dietitian, I had come so far. I did it though, I kinda teared up as I told her what I needed, fearing she’d tell me that we weren’t done with learning to live without rules and learning about food exchanges and portion sizes..that it would be awhile longer. That I’d have to make the decision to leave when I wasn’t done….
But…she told me I was definitely ready to utilize my success in clearing my head of food rules and food anxiety and move forward with sculpting all the food exchange guidelines into portions/servings that had a weight loss goal. YIPPEE!!!
Besides the fact that I have to keep a bit of a closer eye on my portions and I have specific servings a day of the different food exchange groups, this isn’t hard to do. I have been learning and building my way up to this. If I make a mistake…have too little or too much…its just a mistake, and because of dropping my emotional attachments to food..and my anxiety about food…I don’t obsess, I don’t blow the day or the week…I just move on. Not that I’ve messed up really. Its only been 2 weeks and the food plan is just real food….all real food…any type of food..and lots of flexibility and exchanges….yes, I”ve been hungry a couple nights…but I realized that some of the food combinations I chose may not have been the best to satisfy me, so I adjusted…and it was okay.
The best part…I’m not craving some big snack attack, some big binge, a whole pizza or a mountain of ice cream….because I know…all those things are there…and will always be there…and I can have them whenever I want. When I do have them, I don’t have to eat a ton, because again..I can always come back later, the next day or the next week and have it again.
Nothing is forbidden, nothing is wrong, nothing is bad…food is fuel and I use it to make my body healthy.
Some day in the future…like a special occasion…the goal of “weight loss” may not be my #1 priority..instead it might be to relax on vacation, enjoy new foods, have a drink…etc….well that’s okay…I have to go by what my priority is. But right now, my priority is the goal of weight loss..so I’m focusing on the Emily Program guidelines to obtain that.
If you are interested here they are:
6 – 8 servings of protein a day (1 oz of cooked meat is a typical protein, this also includes nuts and vegetarian proteins in other amounts)
2 servings of milk a day (a serving is 1 cup of milk, 1 oz of cheese etc)
5 servings of grain a day (a serving is 1/2 cup of cereal or rice, 3/4 cup of yogurt, a few ozs of crackers etc)
2 servings or more of veggies a day at a minimum, more is always welcome (1 cup of raw vegetables is a serving)
3 servings of fruit a day (handfruit, fruit in yogurt, applesauce, etc)
3 servings of fat a day (1 tsp of butter, 1 TBS heavy cream, 3 TBS hummus, etc)
1/2 Dessert a day (think of this as half of a premium dessert or a WHOLE lighter dessert like a Skinny Cow cone or 1 cup of light ice cream)
This is extremely manageable and gives me more than enough food, plus there are a lot of foods that fall in more than one category and so they can be exchanged around….like 1 oz of cheese can be a protein OR a milk..whee!
Alright this post has gotten long and I wanted to let you all know how I’m doing. I’m open to answering any questions and also hearing what you guys think about what I’m doing and how I ‘m doing!
Soon, I will learn if I can actually look at the scale again, I haven’t since March!! MARCH!! It feels kinda good, but now I want to see how my weight loss goal efforts are panning out, too!
My friend Robby, Fat Girl vs. World asked on Facebook this morning:
“What makes people choose elimination diets (i.e., “no carbs” or “no solid food” or “nothing that rhymes with orange”) over moderation/food logging?” – click the link if you want to see what everyone from all over the blog world is saying on her FB thread, we have lots of smart friends 🙂
– She noted that this does not apply to people with a food allergy or something like gluten intolerance or celiacs, because obviously those people must eliminate for medical reasons.
Here’s the answer I started typing, I realized it was very long, so I decided to post about it instead:
Elimination and food rules triggers my compulsive eating because I have anxiety and I’m a perfectionist (as diagnosed by my ED therapist and dietitian).
For most compulsive eaters its actually the SAME THING, they just haven’t been diagnosed for an ED or talked to anyone professional about emotions/foods. If you remove the emotion from a food (which can be done with ED therapy NOT by WW or any elimination diet (paid for or free), you can eat in moderation…
You can have what you want…because you know it’ll always be there, so there’s no trigger to eat more and more. (this is NOT for people who have allergies/diseases etc that require them to eliminate things obviously, I mean people without sensitivities).
For 99.9% of people that are overweight, its all emotion..its all recovery from something
….for people that just got lazy or that had active young lives and now aren’t as active..those people can do WW or calorie counting or whatnot..but that’s not most of us, most of us eat to feel good, to hide something, to repair something.
Just like anxiety, depression, etc….overeating/compulsive eating…even if its not anorexia or bulimia…requires some learning about self-acceptance..it truly helps.
I’m in the middle of therapy for compulsive eating and I can have all my old “trigger” foods right in front of me, because I have learned how to heal myself in other ways…a lot of me has healed already…I know that my favorite foods – Oreos, spaghetti, pizza, ice cream..well, they will be there tomorrow, too..and oh boy, leftovers of my favorite food (if I happen to get a large portion at a restaurant or make too much at home)…
I automatically moderate now because food doesn’t fix and I know food doesn’t go away..I hope what I’m typing here is helping someone.
I personally go to the Emily Program which I know has locations in Minnesota and Washington State. I also know that Park Nicollet (in MN) has Melrose.
But honestly, reach out to your regular doctor, tell them you want to be connected with someone who can help…compulsive eating is now an eating disorder and can be covered by your insurance.
My cravings to eat compulsively or binge have already started to wane away, because I have allowed myself to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Imagine that, allow myself to have any food, whenever I feel hungry….and I eat LESS
Last week when I met with my dietitian at The Emily Program, she talked to me about how there is a physical and mental part of everything we eat. The physical part is the nutrition, the mental part is how our brain reports back to our emotions about being full..or I could even say “fulfilled.”
She said I’m pretty good at the physically full/comfortable part of things, but not the mentally full. Which is why I tend to overeat, have cravings, and can’t stop thinking about food.
I now need to make sure I have 3 meals and 3 snacks a day and even my snacks need to give my brain the message that I am fulfilled. We put together some snacks based on things that I love and her nutritional know how.
One of key things is that whether our body eats a light cracker/cookie or a regular cracker/cookie our physical need may be filled,we gave ourselves a “grain” and maybe a “sugar” but our mental side sees the light ones and how they have less fat, less calories, more empty processed stuff and isn’t fulfilled.
Our body mentally and physically also needs a grain/fat/protein/fruit or veggie in every meal or snack…so a fat free or light yogurt is seen/processed as a dairy…where as a regular one is dairy, fat and fruit! Ooh, that regular yogurt hit a couple of the must haves of a meal or snack! (yes, we need dairy but it doesn’t have to be in every meal or snack).
A bit of a “showstopper” for me, to tell my brain that a meal is over is fat and/or sugar. So, if I have two Dove chocolates at the end of lunch, that tells my brain lunch is over..and it removes and/or majorly limits my compulsion to overeat, keep grazing, or eventually binge on something for fulfillment.
Snacks we put together for me to use this week for morning snack and afternoon snack (since evening snack is ice cream always!!)
Homemade trail mix: Cheerios, cashews, coated almonds, m&m’s (I make an amount with a mixture per her recipe that will last me 7-10 days)
She also suggested that I have a bit of chocolate after lunch 🙂
So far, I’m feeling much happier with food 🙂
I’ve now seen a dietitian twice at the Emily program. She’s fantastic and takes on every patient as an individual, vs just applying a “plan” which I totally love.
We finished up my intake this week and my assignment is now to record what I’m eating…but this is not the same as Weight Watchers or calorie counting.
She is linked to my entries and we can talk about them in future appointments. She uses it to help me find patterns, ways of thinking, etc.
Here’s an example of one of my entries (there is an app on my phone, as well as a web page that I can use with the questions).
Obviously each meal and each day can be very different depending on what is going on around me, how I feel, etc. But I wanted to share this because even though it is tracking…its not for making me aware of what’s going into my mouth, its making me aware of my attitudes towards food, people, mealtimes, etc.
I’ve learned a few things already and it hasn’t even been a whole week! For example…a good attitude, great night’s sleep and recent exercise help me automatically make better choices, and it doesn’t feel like “restricting” its just a choice..and it happens to be a good one 🙂
I’ve been trying to lose weight, be healthy and stay that way since I was 19 years old and in college. To make a long story short I’ve been up and down…I’ve done calorie counting, points counting, LA Weight Loss, back to points, Slimgenics and back to points. Its not that these programs didn’t or don’t work, but I always struggle through them, have rough patches of sabotaging my efforts by having a “good” day and then a “bad” one.
I overeat when I’m alone, way out of the public eye and especially out of the eyesight of my family and friends. I was a binge eater when I was in elementary, junior high and high school. I didn’t know it then. In college I had more to do, more to think about and I walked all around campus, noticed I was dropping weight so I decided to not snack anymore and because I had never tried to lose weight before the first 15 came right off that year. After that, not so much and I’ve been going through cycles of being at goal (for no more than 4 months or so at a time) to being on one weight loss plan or another. I’ll be doing super well on the plan and then its like my brain rebels and I find ways to eat extra treats when no one is looking. I’m pretty good at bouncing back and saying “oh hey its a new day”…but it keeps happening, over and over.
Plans are great for people that need to learn about nutrition, healthy eating habits, exercise, healthy lifestyle choices…well, I know all these things…so why do I keep failing?
I finally went and asked The Emily Progam. I had been avoiding getting help because I kept telling myself:
“I’m not anorexic, I’m not bulimic…I don’t count as a person with a eating disorder, I’m just lazy and I don’t have enough willpower to follow a plan…its stupid for me to ask for help”
But, I started seeing my blogger friends online talk about how compulsive eating and binge eating have actually been named as eating disorders and how more people can get help now. The blogger that got my attention first and who I specifically went and read her a blog about her experiences is Fit and Free with Emily.
Then I saw more billboards and signs on the sides of buses about the Emily Program and decided the worst that could happen is they could say no, I don’t have an issue they can help with.
Which I was really afraid of and thought it would confirm that I’m dumb, lazy, don’t work hard enough or try hard enough or have enough willpower to lose weight.
Well, after a 1 hour intake meeting that involved talking to a counselor about all my eating history since I was a child, my life now, what I eat now, what I think or feel about this or that and then a 2 hour written test about feelings, thoughts, etc. Then, a 2nd meeting to go over the 1st meeting results and clarify a few things….I heard her say…
“We can help you”
I think you could hear the rush of air coming out of my mouth, my back relaxing into the comfy sofa and a big smile on my face…
“holy crap”, I thought to myself….”I’m not lazy, I’m not weak, I get help!”
I will be set up with a therapist and a dietitian who will help me make my relationship with food normal. Eating will be like brushing my teeth, getting dressed..dare I say like breathing.
She showed me how the history I shared with her and my testing results clearly show I have a Binge Eating, Compulsive Eating and Food Restriction Eating Disorder. Lo and behold, plans like Weight Watchers, Slimgenics, tracking calories, LA Weightloss, etc actually exacerbate my binge eating and compulsive eating, not eliminate or even help.
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps you understand how a person with a less public or less “well known” eating disorder might feel or perhaps this is you? There’s help out there.