Monday, October 12, 2015

Spouses, partners, parents of loved ones with eating disorders--I need you to keep reading. Really.

You may have no idea how they're suffering. Your wife, or mother, or partner or son. It's about shame. And fear. That's why they can't tell you. That's why it's so hard for her to ask for help. I'm not placing blame, but I'm asking you to start to listen like you never have before. Because it's hard for those living with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder to say what needs to be said.

Don't be fooled by his size or his weight. People with eating disorders come in all sizes. And don't be fooled by how well she had been doing. Slips happen. That's normal. But recovery requires acknowledgement that things are amiss, and that support is available. Right there. In person. Not just virtually through this blog, or a virtual support group or a friend across the world.

Yes, they need to know that you are there for them, unconditionally. Even if you really don't understand. Even though you wish they'd just 'get over it'. Struggling with an eating disorder is something they simply did not choose.

She may not discuss it with you, seeming as if all is well. And he may deny that he's restricting or over exercising. Besides. It's so much easier to see what we'd like to see.

So if you suspect that there's something not quite right, please start a discussion. And use open ended questions, ones that can't be dead-ended with a simple yes or no response.

You just might have your blinders on to
what's really going on--right before your eyes.

Do you know how trapped she's feeling?
Like there's no way out of her misery?
Sometimes we're a bit too close to the situation to
see the whole picture.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Does this nutritionist count calories, track exercise on a Fit Bit, or limit her gluten, sugar or carb intake? You just might be surprised.

Time for lunch? Thinking about dinner?  I've gathered a bunch more pics to share from my recent meals. But first I need to respond to a couple of comments and questions you've voiced in person and on the last post.

Lean steak which I have infrequently with grilled farm-fresh
potatoes and watermelon.

Do you think about balancing your day's eating depending on what you ate earlier in the day?

Not at all.  I don't think "I shouldn't have bread again since I had some at breakfast" any more than I think "Oh, I had three fruits already so I'd better have something else for snack." I go with what I feel like, when I'm hungry. 

So you don't give any thought to your food choices?

Homemade pizza topped with artichoke and peaches.
That's not the case either. There's a balance between nutrition information and pleasure/preference that informs my decisions about what to eat. I might have lox at a meal but I wouldn't include olives, let's say, as the sodium would be quite high. And since I have high blood pressure I try to be moderate about my intake. Besides, I think it would be disgusting together. I might have pasta--white, low fiber pasta, but I don't eat a pound of it. I'll add veggies and perhaps a protein source such as chicken or tofu for some balance; the protein and fiber impact fullness which helps make the pasta meal more satisfying.  

Similarly, I'll routinely have a large salad with my pizza or I'm apt to eat a lot more pizza than I need, before recognizing that I've had enough. I happen to love fruit and vegetables so I eat them generously. But my favorite food just might be bread which I eat no less than twice a day. My latest favorite is homemade sourdough.

Do you calculate your calories? And if not, how do you know how much to eat?

I never calculate my calories. Okay. Not true. I did it once after a 2 day bike ride at my husband's request, as he was curious about how our constant eating (and cycling) measured up with our calculated need. In fact, it was strikingly right on--but calculated after the fact; I did not count my calories to limit my intake or determine my portions. When you allow your self to acknowledge hunger and not mask it with water or coffee or deny it until you 'deserve it', and respond to it with food for fuel, the system starts to work just fine.

This is a special meal I prepared from Gramercy Tavern cookbook
featuring halibut, zucchini in various forms and corn salsa.
But you also need to be eating regularly to prevent excessive hunger and impulsive eating. And it helps most of us to control the environment--removing food as a visual trigger to eat. Store food behind cabinet doors, in the fridge or freezer instead. And beware of the impact of other triggers such as alcohol, stress, and mood. Feeling a sense of hopelessness about your eating doesn't help either.

A veggie heavy pasta meal.

Do you think some people are born unable to do this and others aren't? Because I think I'm different, and this simply won't work for me.

No. I felt the same way many years ago when I struggled with a cycle of restrictive eating followed by binge eating. It feels like there's no way out. I don't buy into the addiction model for foods ( but I do see that behaviors can be addictive. So focusing on eating behaviors (which I address a great deal on this blog) is key. Search this blog for mindfulness, hunger and fullness to start.

Sure, you can do this because you must exercise a lot. 

Pasta with an indian flare-with some cashews and coconut.
Sometimes I exercise a lot, like when I'm training for my annual fund-raising bike ride. But I usually work out about 3-4 days/week (once is just a walk with you-know-who*), with an additional day of Pilates. In cycling season the rides may be long, but aside from then,  I don't spend more than an hour working out. 

And I don't intentionally adjust my food choices or portions on non-work-out days. I know my body burns calories at rest, even when I'm sitting at my desk for 8 hour days, 4 days a week. 

Hope this helps. Still thinking this is unhealthy? Let's discuss.
And by the way, all the meals above right were dinners, and those below were my lunches. Missing are the frequent PB and P (preserves of all kinds) sandwiches I bring for lunch but neglected to photograph.

A grilled cheese, arugula and tomato. Yes, on sourdough.

That's cheese hidden under the figs, and lox. Admittedly a weird 
mix, but I had little time to make a lunch when I was
running late.
Add caption

Bread and houmous, with yogurt and granola.
Lemony Lentil Stew with goat cheese, served on 2 corn
tortillas. From Drop the Diet


*yes, you know who.