Happy New Year!
Living in Germany I had an early start [nine to ten hours ahead, I think?] to most of you so it feels almost late to say it just now after sending a dozen greetings into the world last night already.
By now, Christmas was probably the time of the year that had me face the biggest struggles but also helped me grow. Christmas – the season of change? It definitely seems like that for me looking back not only at the one that just passed but previous years, too. While I don’t make my recovery a focal part of my blog I want to share those experiences that I hope some of you will be able to relate to and might find helpful on your own journey. Because I know that’s what I appreciate in other bloggers sharing their stories, too. Thanks to Amanda [who has been a great inspiration for me, too] for offering a motto to go on about my thoughts and reflections of the past holidays and what I learned from them.
Both in terms of exercise and food Christmas has been forcing me to work against the discomfort in past years. But ever since I started blogging and at that also committed to recovery more seriously – key word accountability! – I’ve seen progress.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here: Christmas wasn’t easy for me. Partly because of some personal issues and partly because of – you guessed it – food. In the safety of my own apartment it’s easy to avoid trigger foods and stick with my regular [and yes, on stressed days “safe”] meals. Elsewhere? Temptation all around. Starting with the immense boxes of grandma’s Christmas cookies, her Rotkohl, my mum’s stash of treats I wouldn’t buy myself, … Here’s the deal: I could have tried to resist, eaten piles of apples only, deprived myself. Been there, done that. It’s easy to say where this behaviour has gotten me during the past: nowhere. Stuck in place. Not facing my fears.
What many of the treats around had in common and hence a reason why I was perfectly okay saying no to them is they all contained eggs. As you might kn0w these are not part of my diet. Select dairy products [no gelatin, no animal rennet] yes, eggs: no. No exceptions here. Until now.
They say ‘When in Rome’ – for me it was: ‘When at home‘. For the three days of Christmas celebrations I gave myself a free pass of eating all the treats and sugar I wanted. Did I feel I afterwards? Oh yes. Stomach aches ensued – that’s what’s to be expected when reintroducing a food we haven’t eaten in years – but they were worth it. What was best, though, is the amount of guilt I felt: hardly any. At least not while eating. Later on I had a small bout of nausea and blaming myself for not resisting temptation. However, this wasn’t my … voice. What I feel to be one of the main points in recovery is telling apart the healthy and disordered voice. Blame for giving yourself permission to fully enjoy the holidays or even life in general? Without a doubt disordered. Like me, I’m convinced you’re SO fed up adhering to these thoughts. And the only way to break the spell is embracing discomfort.
Do I see myself adding eggs back into my diet after going [rough guess] three+ years without them? Absolutely not. The idea anything with a visible egg yolk still grosses me out [sorry to any friends of #yolkporn], egg white oats don’t appeal to me and I don’t actually miss eggs. But it was the deprivation of some of my favourite treats that was so hard to endure. Any diet we follow should not make us feel constantly deprived and unsatisfied. And satisfied I was after eating my grandma’s cookies, seeing her face light up when I did and enjoying seconds of the calorie- and sugar-laden delight that is cinnamon parfait was invaluable. Christmas should not be about the food but about the ease of mind while eating. That’s what pushing myself past the guilt of straying from my diet did. I felt guilt-less, happy, simply like everybody else scooping more of the ice cream into their bowls and enjoying the sugar rush.
I went over my ‘calorie budget’. I ate more sugar in a single day than I usually do in a week. I indulged in egg-containing treats. Does this make me an awful person? Some people might think so. However, I disagree. Reminding myself common advice doesn’t apply to anybody in this situation as well as – blogs are a blessing – knowing this is normal in recovery I found ease of mind. This is not me waiting for a pat on the back. I’m not the first breaking free from rules my ED had set for me. I want to encourage anybody to rethink if the choices they are making are genuinely in the interest of feeling good. Or a means of restriction.
What I want to stress is that I don’t in anyway think veganism was a disorder. It’s not. Like any diet veganism can be as healthy or unhealthy as the individual follower choses. My issues with food go deeper. Neither did choosing veganism start my ED nor was giving up on it the miraculous cure. I still eat a largely vegan diet and can see myself go fully vegan in the future. But I want it to be for the right reasons. Namely ethics [that’s why I’m lacto-vegetarian] and taste. Veganism has introduced me to many new foods, inspired my creativity in the kitchen and connected me with a great community of like-minded people. And really, this isn’t about the diet we choose. Just like eating disorders aren’t actually about the food but identifying the underlying reasons and working on those.
Wow, this got a lot longer than planned so I’ll finish it here. Way to start 2015 on a wordy note.
Happiness-inducing today: Excitement for what’s to come in the new year. This could be one filled with changes and I’m learning to embrace the unknown.
Stay in touch!