At my last appointment with the nutritionist, I had to set a goal for the coming week. I initially thought that adding a snack a few days a week would be a good goal, until I realized that pretty much everything I’ve been eating lately falls into the “snack” category and I hadn’t had an honest-to-goodness complete meal in ages. So my goal for the past week was to eat two full meals (carbohydrate + protein + fat + fiber) on two separate days. The meals didn’t count if they didn’t contain all four elements, nor did they count if they were purged or set off a binge. Much harder than I initially thought, especially on the last two counts.
(On a somewhat related note, I told my nutritionist last week that I am terrified of eating because I’m really terrified I won’t stop. I live in perpetual fear of a binge. My nutritionist asked what I thought it meant that I found myself unable to eat once I started. That I’m hungry? She raised her eyebrows. Try again, she said. I sighed, hating to give in to the facts: That my body is starving. I rolled my eyes as I said this, but she confirmed I had given the right answer. Stupid body, I think. Can’t you see how fat you are?)
It took a few days, but finally met with success. I left counseling yesterday feeling more hopeful and sane than I have in months and decided to stop in at Trader Joe’s to get something to eat on my way to the prayer room. I finally decided on a vegan wrap and some raisins. (I know, I know – I really went wild and crazy there.) A quick check-in, to ensure it meets all requirements:
- Carbohydrate: tortilla, raisins – check
- Protein + Fat: hummus – check
- Fiber: veggies out the wazoo – check
I eat half the wrap on the short drive to the prayer room, a technique my nutritionist has suggested: eat just before I go into a closed situation where I couldn’t possibly binge (or purge). The logic of this suggestion is elementary and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before. Worth every penny right there. So I eat half the wrap and the raisins, which is what I had originally planned. I figure I can eat the other half tomorrow for lunch. But…I’m still hungry. Or am I?
Am I really hungry? Or am I just wanting to quell my anxiety about eating with more eating? But if I don’t finish the wrap, am I restricting? I’m really drastically below the number of calories I should be consuming today, according to my nutritionist. If I don’t eat the rest of this, am I using food or lack of food to control my emotions and fears? Should I eat the rest of the wrap? Am I really hungry? And when did this headache start?
I packaged the rest of the wrap, left it in the car and went inside to pray. After an hour and a half, I decided that I was in fact hungry and finishing the wrap would be the sane, healthy option, particularly given my run earlier in the day. During this hour and a half I also decided (among other things), that I really need to talk to my nutritionist about a meal plan. Or at least something that gives me some guidance, even if it’s just an “X meals, Y snacks, Z calories and here are some ideas” sort of thing. The reality is, I have no idea what I should be eating or in what quantities. I am terrified with EVERY BITE that I am using food in one direction or another to cope and control my emotions and I will absolutely drive myself crazy if someone doesn’t take that burden off my shoulders.
I really thought that maybe I could make my own meal plan, like I did a while ago. So before I went to bed last night, I planned today’s meals. And I stuck to the plan, more or less. I didn’t quite finish lunch, so I moved a few calories to the afternoon snack. I discovered a new and delicious vegan energy bar and bought a whole box for the rest of the week. I forced myself to finish dinner, even though I just wasn’t feeling it. And by 9 pm, I remembered why making my own meal plan didn’t work when I first attempted it a month and a half ago: It’s bloody boring .
I eat the same thing day in and day out, simply because I know it’s safe. I was offered breakfast today at the preschool – fresh-baked breads and scones and a variety of fruit in the teacher’s lounge, take your pick, Jess! But, No, thanks, I’ve got a snack. A snack that I planned and that fits in perfectly with the number of calories I will allow myself to consume right now and that is vegan and therefore, less threatening to my sanity. Yes, that chocolate chip scone looks fantastic, but I’m sure there’s an egg or milk in it and that just won’t do. The fruit looks great, but I’ve got my own fruit, thank you. I know how many grams this portion is weighed out and it’s already covered in ton of cinnamon, because somehow that makes the fact that I eat the same three fruits in rotation more exotic and exciting. Safe.
And so by day three or four of the great meal plan experiment, I’m usually bored to tears and tired of eating the same granola bar every day at the exact same time and I think to myself, Well, I’ll just skip the granola bar today and make it up with something really exciting at dinner! Which, of course, I never do. And so day five, I figure if I didn’t need that snack yesterday, I surely don’t need it today, but this time I’ll really make it up. Which, of course, I never do. Day six, I’m feeling just fine, so clearly that calorie count was a little high before, let’s back it off by a hundred or two. Days seven, eight, nine, ten, the same story. Until we’re back where we started and the crazy brain has made up new rules about what is safe and what is not.
All this to say that cannot be in charge of my own meal plan and need to bring this up to my nutritionist at our appointment tomorrow.
Someone hold me to that, eh?