As I type this I am hours away from a wonderful opportunity. A few weeks ago I won two tickets to an Asheville Food Tour. This will create a nice space for Nathan and I to try something new as a part of our “20FirstDates” (a story for another time). This will be date #8. The food will be decadent. The company I’m sure will be delightful and the history part of the tour very informative. I’m sure it’s going to be a great morning of brunch, fun and time to disengage from the chaos. So….why am I anxious about it?
It’s not because it’s a new experience, the flavors will be unique or the company unfamiliar. I’m anxious because there is food involved. Although I’ve never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder I can tell you that I certainly have “disordered eating”. I have had an unhealthy relationship with food for as long as I can remember. I have had times in my life where I have binge eaten. I have hidden and hoarded food. I have snuck food. I have gone through a drive thru (when I wasn’t hungry) just so I could try a new food from a commercial, and then come home and eat the next meal with my family after hiding the evidence (trash). I currently am struggling with being a food “nazi”. I hover over every snack and meal made by my children. I am Brunhilda when it comes to the amount of milk that is consumed. Currently My Fitness Pal is helping me with awareness of my consumption and although it is a great application it provides me with information that colors my decisions and therefore the decisions of my family. Often this comes in the form of me sharing needless caloric trivia at inopportune times. Just this afternoon at Chick-Fil-A as my children were enjoying free small milkshakes (the April mystery offer), I told them that for the 500 calories they were consuming I could have had an eight piece grilled nugget, a large superfood side and a kid’s lemonade. They looked at me like I was speaking French. It was obvious that this information was totally irrelevant to them. They continued drinking and I watched them longing that I could consume those same 500 calories. So the information I have and the desire of my heart don’t always mesh. That’s for another blog.
Very seldom can I sit down to a meal and not feel anxious, or even a bit consumed by the experience. When we eat out I feel nervous and think crazy things such as “Will we eat here again? What should I get if we don’t? Will I like it? Will it be enough? Should I spend that much on one entrée?”. I used to really struggle with left overs. If something came home (and I mean actually made it to the fridge…yes often I would eat them in the car) then I guarded it with my life. I literally felt anger if someone ate them or even suggested that they wanted them. At times I have struggled with the compulsion to finish the food on the children’s plates and have “taste tested” far too much food while cooking. Almost every occasion is celebrated with food. Even grieving involves food. It’s all too much.
As I have been on this almost six-year journey I’ve wanted to stop thinking so much about food. However, it’s not been my experience. I am meal planning, shopping, cooking, eating or cleaning up after a meal. I am putting money on the children’s lunch accounts, fixing snacks for them or our new family obsession….watching shows on the Food Network. My life is full of food. My head spins and I struggle with anxiety when I have to go to the grocery store. This has taken a toll on me.
I have currently enlisted the help of a friend. She has made some suggestions in terms of meal planning and she actually met me at the grocery store and lovingly, patiently and supportively walked me down each aisle. I came in under budget for groceries for a week. I tasted food from a cooking demonstration (and didn’t worry about putting the calories in on MFP). I donated money to March of Dimes and even bought sushi for lunch. It was a much different shopping trip than I am used to having. I saved $30 and even received a coupon for a free item. I must admit that my first trip to Publix was wonderful and I am in debt to my friend Mandi. We are going to meet again next Tuesday and I think try Trader Joe’s.
So all I have to do is come up with basic meal plans and I have a theme for every day of the week. Monday is “Mexican”. Tuesday is “Tasty Tuesday” where I usually try something new from the Allrecipes site. Wednesday is “Hump Day Hamburgers” and each week I try a new burger recipe. There is always a plain burger option for Joseph. Thursday is “This isn’t Breakfast Time” where we have different breakfast options. Friday is “Fend for Yourself” where we eat leftovers or they can fix their own dinner. Saturday is “Pizza” night (either take out or frozen) and Sunday is “Sabbath Soup and Sandwich Day”. This has been super helpful for our family. This is still a work in progress, but things are really starting to turn around and I’m not nearly as anxious about food preparation.
So…back to tomorrow. I thought about running extra miles today so I wouldn’t have to worry about the caloric intake of tomorrow’s brunch tour, but time didn’t allow it. I thought about having a protein shake before we go so I wouldn’t eat as much. I thought about just tasting one bite of everything. And then…….I took a deep breath, said a prayer and realized this is one morning in a long line of mornings. This is one experience and I can shape it negatively or positively. I can be present in the moment and look for awe and wonder or I can give into misery and anxiety. It’s my choice. I’ve asked a dear friend to pray for me. I’m going to talk this through with Nathan tonight and I’ve made myself accountable to you ALL that read this. Tomorrow is a gift. Remember I won the tickets. So…why would I squander this day away with unnecessary spinning around in my skewed thinking and disordered eating patterns?
Strongholds can be broken. Habits can be replaced. “An old dog can learn new tricks”. I am finding order from “disordered” as I ask for help, pray specifically about this issue, memorize Scripture to change my thinking patterns, re-read helpful books such as “Made to Crave”, and make plans. I am employing accountability, journaling and blogging more regularly. I am even posting videos on my FB page. I am weighing weekly. I have registered for a half marathon in October to give me a training focus. These are all things that will help me to continue to move forward.
There are still days, moments and times where my “stinking thinking” comes to the forefront. I fall down, but I don’t have to stay down. I make mistakes, but I’m not a mistake. I am surrounded by food, but I don’t have to let it rule me, control me or destroy me. I’m beautifully broken, but I’m humbly being healed and I appreciate you sharing this part of my journey.