12 August 2015

When's a habit a behaviour or a decision a deal?

It'll come as no surprise that I've always been a creature of habit. But when a large chunk of your life has been spent with unhealthy habits, sometimes the comfort of said habits is actually doing more harm than help. 

What I still struggle with is the internal debate on where the line is on habits and eating disordered behaviours actually comes. With the routine and habits that on one hand I see as 'just getting on with life' but on the other are maintaining a semi-recovered status quo. 

Remember those 'no big deals' I battled early in recovery? The NDB habits which Ms. F and Mrs W. challenged everyday when I altered, switched or left bits off my meal plan? Well I guess I should have challenged them more back then, because they're so natural to do.

It's not like the behaviours - or habits - cause me distress or upset though. But I wouldn't know if challenging them does, because I don't do it very often. That's the thing. I do just get on with life. But does that life include controlling my diet, avoiding high calorie 'junk' food and having rules around when I am 'allowed' or 'not allowed' to 'treat' myself by eating out or adding a bread roll? Yes. 

So how is that recovered I hear you ask? Easy, it's not, because I am not free to eat what I want, when I fancy it. I am not free from guilt and I feel like I need to 'earn' those treats. Do I feel guilty for eating or bad when people point out how much, or what I eat or if I think people look 'healthier' than me. Yes. 

But on the other hand, do I WANT to include most of the foods I don't have in my diet? No not really. So this is the conundrum I am in. With no 'weight restoration' plan or dietitian setting out 'challenges' to test anorexia, I don't - or feel the urge to - I just have these habits. My diet. 

I do jut get on with life, but life where I eat lots of salads and 'meat' (Quorn) and have the same 400 calorie breakfast, similar lunches and rotated dinners everyday. I have basket loads of fruit a week and pile my plate with veggies. I eat the same suppers, custard or soya yoghurt with dried fruit and granola for supper. Every. Single. Day. Unless of course, I eat out with colleagues or friends. Once or twice a month. There's some calories I don't count, some things I don't even think about anymore, but I wish I had tried harder to erase the mental calorie 'rough guide' I started when I stopped obsessing. Because that's my guide everyday.

Like I've mentioned in previous posts since discharge, I never hit the golden target weight I was first set, I was a kilo or two under (but in a healthy BMI for a year). And since starting life outside the EDU, my weight's not plummeted, but I have not gained over that number either. The thought of the month I get on the scales and I am that target, scares me. I know this is not right, ok?

But then again, are these just all habits I'm stuck with in an 'anorexia hangover' - or are they behaviours that still control my life? This is the debate I still have. The deals I still do? I don't know. I just get on with living with them and try to ignore food thoughts - and don't really tell people HOW I feel anymore. I just fit them in my routine and try to cope. 


  1. Beautiful writing, I can relate so much to what you are feeling. You are doing amazing, such an inspiration,

  2. Having lived in quasi-recovery/relapse for 11 years and only now 'properly' recovering, I believe that the way you describe yourself here sounds as though you are only semi-recovered. Your eating disorder still impacts on the way you live. You 'manage', but you're not free. You ask 'But on the other hand, do I WANT to include most of the foods I don't have in my diet? and answer 'No not really.' I think you need to examine why you don't include those foods in your diet - is it because they are 'unhealthy'/high in fat or sugar/calorie dense? If so, I would imagine it's your anorexia that doesn't want to include those foods in your diet, not you.

  3. I'm really glad to see you questioning this. Have you read any of Emily Troscianko's blog posts? She talks about issues like full weight restoration and how to separate 'you' from 'anorexia'. I wanted to say (which I imagine you were told at EDU since it is a standard thing to be told. A BMI of 20 is not a healthy weight for a good majority of the population. Most people are BMI 21, 22 or higher. Especially people who are very active because muscle weighs more. Maybe something to consider. And if you instinctively resist the idea, is that you or the ED part of you that resists? Those 'no big deals' are huge big deals when they add up to anorexia still being in control. And the nature of AN is denial and kidding ourselves we are ok and free when we are merely functioning. I know, I've done it. Do take care of yourself Sarah.

  4. Thank you all. I know Emma, the 'magic' BMI is ABOVE 20, and like you say, closer to the mid-20s. My instinct is to resist more weight gain, so I know that's no fully recovered. It's one reason I don't call myself that. I guess I am thankful that I am at least AWARE of how I feel - and inquiring about it. There's work to do here. I've separated myself from Anorexia a long time ago....that's always been the way I've thought things out....I know I have the habits, but I don't feel trapped. It's a fine line...

    1. Yes, it's great that you're aware and thinking it through. What I mean is that by clinging to a too low for you weight, you ARE still holding onto the AN, even though you've worked incredibly hard to also build a life apart from it. Anyway, keep thinking and keep challenging the habits and no big dealsYou will thank yourself in the end, even though as I say, I relate to the ambivalence.