I talk pretty openly about my fondness for intuitive eating. Moderation without restriction is something I believe strongly in, but it hasn’t always been that way. Once upon a time (that time being college) I had more shall we say interesting? eating habits as I struggled to find my definition of healthy. I would gobble down late night pizza in its entirety and had even been known to put my feet up and eat an entire 6 pack of bagels in one couch sitting. After those moments, I’d feel the urge to restrict, and a Monday “fresh start” was a regular occurrence- whether that was in the form of eggs and pork rinds while joining my roommate on Atkins or chewing on a stalk of broccoli when I focused more on veggies.
I never had an eating disorder and I don’t take those words lightly, as I know people that struggle with them and it is not a term to throw around haphazardly. However, I certainly had disordered eating habits and occasionally some of those old sentiments bubble up after my more indulgent stretches. Take last week for example.
With a full week of tasks to attend to, the days were packed full. On top of that, my allergies kicked up something fierce, so I only made it to bootcamp once at the beginning of the week. Now you may assume with less exercise, one would focus more on eating well, but for me, they tend to go hand in hand. If I’m active, then I find myself wanting to cook and eat healthy food. If I am inactive, stressed and busy, the desire for balance and quality food fall by the wayside as my energy drops and I opt for just making it through.
The crazy week led into the (wonderful and celebratory) crazy weekend and by Sunday I found myself in a place where I hadn’t exercised for a week and had been choosing heavier and more frequent meals than my norm, not to mention small slices of cake every time I walked by. That’s nothing terrible of course, but I felt sluggish and BLAH and then there it was, that old feeling- the urge to restrict.
Grand plans of nothing but veggies and lean proteins briefly bounced through my head. Luckily I can recognize it now and know that path isn’t the best choice for me. For me, restriction is never the answer. It leads to success followed by ultimate failure, two words that don’t belong in my version of balance.
So instead, I take the following steps:
Focus on adding, not subtracting. Filling my cart full of vegetables and incorporating them into my meals leaves less room for the junkier food. Drinking more water. More real, unprocessed food. Focusing on MORE of the good stuff instead of less of the less desirable puts everything in a positive and motivating light while still making the progress that I’m after.
Move more. I will make it to bootcamp this week, but I am unable to do so as often as I’d like. However, I’ve hit my 10k step goal for the past 3 days now by just moving more. Cleaning around the house, putting the girls in the stroller and walking, etc. I’m not focused on the calorie burn number, just on getting my blood flowing because it makes me feel good, which leads to a positive spiral.
Organizing. Cleaning out the fridge, planning meals, structuring my days- all of these refocus my desire for control onto positive and fruitful areas of my life. While I used to use this intense will power to restrict, now I put it to work for me and feel the satisfaction of getting to the bottom of my laundry pile, knocking out photo edits and catching up on other various to-dos.
I’m all for reeling things in a bit, stocking up on good food and setting healthy intentions, but I am careful not to set myself up to fail by creating strict and unreasonable guidelines.
Plus, being a role model for my girls, I never want to have them hear me say “mommy can’t eat that” or model restrictive behavior. Under our roof, I feel passionately about doing all I can to set them up for healthy relationships with food, though that is a post for another day entirely.
How do you handle your more indulgent weeks?
Have you ever struggled with disordered eating?
What helped you?