Guys, I’m a little ashamed at my lack of responsibility when it comes to reasonable spending. Lately I’ve been paying four dollars a day on an eight-ounce latte. That’s fifty cents an ounce. I don’t know if I should be more embarrassed for paying four dollars for this tiny drink, or if Groundworks should be more embarrassed for charging that much. (I’m going to go with me, the careless consumer.) But, gah! It’s the damn hemp milk. They charge an extra seventy-five cents for it. If only there were a way for us (the health foodie society) to convince coffee shops to charge less for milk alternatives. You know, as a positive movement to discourage conventional dairy consumption. I realize this will likely never happen, but a girl can dream.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have adrenal fatigue and thyroid problems, neither of which are made better by caffeine. I go back and forth between avoiding caffeine like the plague, and having it every single day. Obviously, I am in the latter phase at the moment. Since reintroducing all food groups back into my diet, I’ve been allowing myself this daily indulgence of a yummy latte. It’s all part of my move to abolish fear. I don’t want to be scared of coffee, even though I know it isn’t healthy for my adrenals. This might sound stupid, like I’m purposely exacerbating the dire state of my adrenal health, but in all honesty, my orthorexia is more important to me at the moment. I thoroughly enjoy my mid-morning hemp milk latte, and I’m at the point in my eating disorder recovery where I truly believe that the stress associated with fearing certain foods is worse for my health than actually eating said foods. My doctor told me he’s fine with me having one cup of organic coffee a day, so I’m going to let myself enjoy that luxury.
I won’t lie, though. I’ve been feeling guilty for drinking caffeine again, as if I suddenly no longer care about my health. I’ve been feeling this way about a lot of foods. My daily struggles have definitely increased since I’ve let go of all food restrictions. You would think that “allowing” myself all food groups again would make eating easier, but it has actually made it much harder for me. My short time on the paleo diet gave birth to a fear of grains, and now I can’t eat them without thinking to myself, “Wow Laura, are you trying to create inflammation?!” I also have a fear of dairy, which I’m trying to get over. We all know dairy isn’t good for us (I think that’s pretty well-established across the board), but even so, I don’t want to fear it. I want to be able to consume it in small amounts without making myself feel guilty.
Orthorexia is a tricky thing, because it seems that no matter what I eat, there is guilt involved. If it’s unhealthy, then I scold myself for not adhering to my dietary morals. If I choose to eat something “healthy” in lieu of what I’m really craving, then I berate myself for not just enjoying whatever it was I truly wanted. That’s one of my biggest struggles: not enjoying food. My orthorexia likes every meal to be mouthwatering. If it’s not finger-lickin’ delicious, then I feel ashamed for “wasting” calories, even if the meal was healthy. So what if a meal is both healthy and delicious? Obviously this is what I aim for with every meal, though oftentimes this, too, will lead to guilt. I’ll tell myself I ate too much of it, that my serving was twice the size a normal person would have eaten. With my mind alone, I will make myself feel sick, bloated, and fat.
Having all these food groups available to me has given me so much opportunity to choose the “wrong” thing. I constant second-guess my food choices, and am bombarded by my own health knowledge. It seems that nobody in the health food world eats everything these days. It feels to me as if those who eat grains don’t eat meat, those who eat meat don’t eat grains, nobody eats dairy, and those who don’t eat any of the aforementioned are the epitome of self-control. I realize this is not entirely true, that there are plenty of people who enjoy bits of everything and still consider themselves to be health foodies. However, as a person struggling with orthorexia, it’s extremely hard to not feel guilty for consuming what others are so successfully shunning. My orthorexia fixates on all the saintly eaters out there and mercilessly compares me to every one of them. It spits lines at me such as, “So and so would never eat what you just ate!” and, “You used to have her self-control.”
I struggle daily with all of this, but I am proud to say that I have not been obeying my eating disorder’s demands to straighten up. Every night it tells me to eat less tomorrow, to not eat any dairy tomorrow, to have a smaller breakfast tomorrow, to not snack between mealtimes tomorrow, to not eat dinner so late tomorrow. The list goes on. Tomorrow always holds the promise of more self-control, of the chance to slip back into the hands of my eating disorder. But I have not slipped back, nor do I want to. As hard as recovery is right now, I know that it will serve me well in the long run. My daily struggles will make me stronger. Their effects on me will lessen in time. I want all my ED recovery soldiers out there to know that you are not alone in this, that I’m struggling right here beside you, and that we can overcome our eating disorders together. Your daily struggles are proof of the positive changes you’re making to eradicate your ED. If you feel uncomfortable, sit with it. Do not fall back into your eating disorder as a way to gain comfort. Sitting with discomfort will train you in breaking free from your ED. Every time your eating disorder tells you to do something (or tells you not to do something), and you ignore it, you’re one step closer to freedom. Feel your daily struggles. Get through them. No emotion is permanent.