Balance is Bae
The picture above was taken on my 22nd birthday a few months ago. That day I woke up craving a bagel and a smoothie, and that's what I had for breakfast. The same day I also had a sweet potato and beer, seaweed salad and peanut butter ice cream cake, all what seem to be polar opposites on the health scale.
In prior years, I would have restricted leading up to my birthday because I knew I would be "forced" into having a slice of cake. Then I would feel bad about the cake and restrict after my birthday as well. Or, I'd eat in my ED's dumb "calorie limit" on my birthday, refusing ice cream cake (my favorite on my birthday because ice cream > cake) and saying that I wanted shrimp and veggies for dinner instead of going out to sushi (my favorite food). There's nothing wrong with shrimp and veggies. I love shrimp and veggies. BUT they are not my all time favorite- and on birthdays, everyone deserves their absolute favorite.
The point of all this birthday talk is to say that I've come a long way in terms of balance. Balance is a term that's definitely overused, but is so important, and in my opinion, the only way to live.
As much as we like to fight it, our bodies all have a set point where they are most comfortable and can function most optimally. It's the weight that we would all be at if we ate like we did during early childhood- eating what we wanted when we were hungry and stopping when we were full- even if there was more on our plates.
Our bodies will fight to keep us at this set point, and that's why when we expend a lot of energy we will want more food, and when we overeat, the next day we're not as hungry.
Now unfortunately, it's common in today's society to restrict, whether it be because of an ED or a diet. It's also common for us to overindulge, and eat more than we actually want.
Have you ever noticed that when you're restricting for any reason, all you can think about is food? And when you "overeat," you punish yourself and think you have to either work out really hard the next day or not eat as much the next day? This is because these behaviors are not balanced! They're extreme, and only lead to sadness and failure- whatever your goal may be.
I know that I can speak for plenty of people who've suffered an ED when I say that food is ALWAYS on the brain when you're sick. I ALWAYS wanted food when I was deep in my disease, but would never allow myself to have it.
The opposite is true for the first time I needed to weight restore. I ate m&ms until I felt sick and just wanted to never have to see food again.
I've been on both extremes.
We want what we can't have, and that's where balance comes into play.
When you're living and eating with balance, nothing is off limits. Yes, I lean towards "healthier" foods in my diet now because that's what I've discovered makes me and my body feel the best, but when I want a donut, I'll eat it. When I want ice cream, I'll eat it (which is more than once a week).
I don't feel like I need to find the item on the menu that I think has fewest calories, because cheese and oil and bread are all damn good. I don't feel like I need to finish a giant dessert from a restaurant because I "don't know when the next treat I'll have will be." The next treat will be whenever me and my body want it!
To be completely honest, it's hard at first to see your body go back to your set point when your ED has been fighting it for so long, but when you're listening to your body and what it has to ask for when it comes to food and feeling good, you know it can't lead you wrong.
You have to trust your body and have a lot of faith in the fact that it will bring you to where you function properly and at your best.
Become your own friend and treat your body KINDLY, and it will treat you just as well in return.