on earning food

Last week I sat in a lecture listening to a professor/RD talk about snacking while watching television. She innocently mentioned that she and her husband ate an entire bag of chips, so they “had to walk it all off afterwards.” “Thank goodness we got rid of those calories!” she joked. I looked around as other students smiled and laughed with her. I sat motionless. Yet my mind was on fire.

How could an experienced professional in my field make such a comment with no regard to the true implications of her words? She, just like so many other people who surround me, implied that food is bad and must be fought off. It must be exercised off. It must be earned.

Why should we have to earn our food? Do we make our pets earn their food or exercise to “make up” for the calories they eat? Would we tell our best friend that she could only eat a cupcake if she had eaten less than X number of calories so far that day? Would I dare enter a hospital room to see a patient and tell him that he needed to get out of bed and take some laps around the hospital to “burn off” his lunch? We have somehow morphed into a culture where food is simply a privilege. Food is not a necessity.

This food-shaming, exercise-praising culture we now live in is slowly destroying us from the inside out. When we force ourselves to “earn” food, we are simultaneously forcing our lungs, hearts, brains, muscles, and all other organs to “earn” food. They work for us 24-7 in order to keep us alive and able to do all of the things we do in a single day. So why would we punish them by only giving them food (read: energy/ATP) when we feel that it’s justifiable – when it’s on our terms?

We deserve food at all times. Not when it’s convenient. Not when we decide we’ve exercised enough that day. Not after we’ve fasted. Not until our stomachs are growling so loudly it is no longer bearable. Not when we feel that we earn it. Our bodies require energy at all times. It is our job to provide it consistently and regularly in a way that is comfortable, positive, and enjoyable.

I’m sorry if your body’s physiological demands don’t fit into your perfectly planned schedule, weight control regime, or mental rules. I know, I’ve been there. But you really only have one job – and that’s keeping yourself alive and functioning. We go to the doctor’s office when our bodies aren’t functioning properly. We go to physical therapy when our bodies are bent out of shape. We spend hours researching our issues online in desperate hopes of finding treatments. Staying alive and functioning is everyone’s main priority, yet we never seem to start by treating our bodies properly. So let’s start by feeding our bodies appropriately, staying well nourished and hydrated all day long, and exercising when it feels convenient and enjoyable. Let’s ease our minds of the constant counting, calculating, and contemplating. Let’s learn to eat regardless of our plans or agendas. Let’s learn to eat regardless of what or when we last ate or will eat. Let’s learn to eat without boundaries, binding conditions, or terms. Let’s learn to eat regardless of whether or not we “earned it.” Believe me, you’ve “earned it.”

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NEDA Week: Recipes for Success

One of the best ways I learned to recover from my eating disorder was through creating and trying new recipes that DID NOT involve fat-free, sugar-free, paleo, low-carb, or “clean” ingredients. As a child and teenager, I loved to cook and found it therapeutic. Once my ED took over my life, cooking became about how few calories I could fit into my meals. During recovery, I challenged myself to develop new recipes that were not modified in any way. These recipes were authentic, using real ingredients and no restrictions.

I would like to share one of my favorite recipes for breakfast: Baked Oatmeal

This recipe is very versatile, as you can add any ingredients or toppings you want. It is so warm, sweet, and buttery with a crispy top and soft inside. I have included some adaptions to the recipe at the bottom of the page. I hope you enjoy this comforting, convenient breakfast as much as I do!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar + more for topping
  •  5 tbsp. softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 8×8 baking dish well with cooking spray, or alternatively, grease with butter and flour.
  2. Whisk milk and egg together in a large bowl. Add vanilla extract, brown sugar, and butter. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Add oats, flour, baking powder, and salt to mixture. Stir gently until combined.
  4. Pour mixture into greased baking dish. Spread until it is evenly distributed.
  5. Top with approx. 1 tbsp. brown sugar.
  6. Bake for 28 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and slightly crispy.
  7. Serve warm with toppings of choice. I like berries and banana slices.

Banana Bread Version:

  • Add 1/2 cup mashed banana to milk and egg mixture
  • Add 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans to mixture before baking
  • Serve with fresh sliced banana and additional nuts

Almond Joy Version:

  • Add 1/2 tsp. almond extract to milk and egg mixture
  • Add 1/2 cup sliced almonds to mixture
  • Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup shredded coconut to the top of the mixture once in the baking pan
  • Serve with additional almonds and milk

Blueberry Muffin Version:

  • Add 3/4 cup fresh blueberries to mixture
  • Top with 2 tbsp. graham cracker crumbs before baking
  • Serve with additional fresh blueberries and milk

 

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NEDA Week: 50 Reasons to Recover

We are in Day 2 of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week! I decided this week to post a tool I used in recovery every day. I often get the question, “What did you actually do in order to recover?” and I am going to try my best to answer it through these posts. Recovery is absolutely different for everyone, and no one tool works the same among different people. I do urge you to try these techniques if you are struggling to recover from an eating disorder. I made this list at the end of my eating disorder days before I chose recovery. I ask that if you are considering recovery, please sit down and really think about why you want to recover. Until you really want recovery, it will not be attainable. If you are struggling, feel free to contact me and check out the resources I posted using the links on the top of my page.

With that being said, here are MY 50 Reasons to Recover:

  1. To be at optimal health
  2. To be able to fit into clothes properly
  3. To not feel ashamed when I can’t buy work pants because the sizes aren’t small enough
  4. To be able to sit down in hard chairs without being in pain
  5. To not be cold all the time
  6. To be able to think about other things besides food
  7. To be able to spontaneously go out to eat with friends
  8. To not be afraid of foods that others cook
  9. To be able to go to social events without having to pre-plan what I will eat
  10. Because life shouldn’t be spent trying to make myself eat less
  11. Because only drinking water isn’t always fun
  12. To enjoy holidays (and desserts that go with them)
  13. To treat myself after a long day or reward myself for hard work
  14. To not feel chained to MyFitnessPal
  15. To have the most energy possible
  16. To have a womanly body again
  17. To not have to constantly calculate how many calories I’ve eaten
  18. Because people won’t stare or make comments
  19. I won’t have to lie
  20. Because being lectured or fighting with my parents is painful
  21. Because feeling dizzy or faint while exercising or standing up in the morning is scary
  22. Because I want to feel strong
  23. Because I like sweets and junk food
  24. So that I no longer have to feel guilty for breaking my promises
  25. So that at meals I can have a conversation without my mind drifting to food and how much I should eat
  26. Because life should not be about getting to the next meal
  27. So that I can feel comfortable shopping for clothes
  28. Because my friends should not be afraid to approach me
  29. Because pancakes taste better with butter
  30. Because it’s nice waking up thinking about God rather than what I am going to eat that day
  31. Because texting friends is more important than looking up food-related Instagram accounts
  32. So that my stomach will no longer growl in the middle of an exam
  33. To be able to relax at night and not worry about what I will eat the next day
  34. To not wake up in the night with hunger pains
  35. To not be scared of going to the doctor and getting weighed
  36. Because I want to grocery shop without staring at food labels
  37. Because the disordered thoughts only feed my anxiety
  38. To be able to help others through the same issues someday
  39. To buy clothes that will fit me for more than a few months at a time
  40. To put on a swimsuit and not worry that everyone is staring at bones
  41. To not have blue fingernails
  42. So that I can bake and not have to give it all away
  43. To be able to accept free food or take samples
  44. Because I should be able to enjoy a night out without it being stressful
  45. To be able to deviate from my meal plan
  46. Because bones are not attractive
  47. So that I can feel alive, instead of just existing
  48. Because I can do hard things
  49. Because I want to be free
  50. Because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
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