Those who have never suffered the disorder will really never understand. I will never be able to explain or express why I acted the way I did. No one will ever be able to grasp the concept of the peace of mind I got from self starvation if they have never suffered the disorder. It is true, “they just don’t get it.” And let it be known, it is not in any way, shape or form their fault. The desire to help was always there, but never did I welcome it with open arms.
I finally I got a break, and what I will refer to at blessing number two. After Christmas my parents decided they were going on the Atkins diet to drop the “southern hospitality” weight they had picked up. Out of no where I asked if I could go on it as well. My dad sternly said ‘no’ while my mom had a light go off in her head(at least I think) and responded yes, because I hadn’t touched good fat or protein in God knows how long. So it was a deal, actually a Godsend. I would eat and be able to recover MYSELF (no more crap counseling/nutritionist).
It was a comfort thing; I knew I wouldn’t explode eating this way as I had experience at a low carbohydrate diet by now. I could control this still, but in a healthy manner. I wanted recovery, and I wanted to eat a low carbohydrate diet. In every medical book, blog, article I have ever read, all fingers point to a low carbohydrate diet for health. I have been sold on the diet since I started studying nutrition.
When my body balanced itself out I felt amazing, however the clarity which surpassed my thoughts was even more miraculous. I cried in joy that I did not wake up punishing myself, and no longer spent hours upon hours running and lifting everyday. I could carry on a conversation; I could pay attention to what was going on around me. I was not obsessing as badly, and I was finally able to FIGHT BACK at my body and my mind processes.
It was very hard at first to make myself enjoy food like burgers and butter, and yes I cried a lot. I never expressed emotion in front of people; it is just not me and never will be. But I cried with myself because I enjoyed it, and I cried because I was confused that I enjoyed it. I cried because I had EMOTION and I FELT IT. But let me tell you when I acquired the tastes of real, good food again I loved it. My energy level hit the roof but on an even keel, something I had not experienced in a long time. I was a constant train-a-chuggin’.
I was still on exercise restriction at this point because one of the first commands out of the counselor I saw prior to taking recovery into my own hands was NO exercise. This killed me. I was so use to running, my routine, and the power or release I felt after working out. You see, one little change in my ways sets me up for anxiety and the return of bad thoughts. Surprisingly, I obeyed the command. I did not and have not formally exercised since that day. I picked up tennis this past summer and I greatly enjoy the game. It is not obsessive, not too hard, and it is fun. The difference- it’s a healthy enjoyment.
To say the least, it was an adjustment. Awkward at first, but well worth it. I had to re-teach myself to think, because food was not on my mind all hours of the day. I had to put my thoughts elsewhere, because no longer was my eating disorder telling me how worthless I was, how secretive I had to be, and how isolated I had to stay. I re-taught myself to engage in conversation, to listen, and to laugh.
But, as is a part of recovery, the nasty little monster in my head returned and reared its ugly head. I became a low fat low carbohydrate advocate and was tallying once again numerous food and lean meat throughout the day. I would refuse to eat over 250 calories and 5 carbohydrates every day until dinner. Regardless of what I told me parents I ate, or what my doctor expected at my next weigh in, I was not budging on the routine I had down. At this point I would pound a plate of grilled chicken breast and a salad with 0 calorie dressing I discovered exists. Again, my massive intake of protein was producing insulin surges in my blood, sending me back to a mental mess. One touch of any food that produced a noticeable insulin response in my body sent me spiraling downwards. With this knowledge and understanding of my body, I worked to stop such surges in blood sugar from occurring.
At this time I was going to a weekly weigh-in at the doctor’s office. I had Okayed it with the job I had to be a little late every Friday morning because I had to stop by the doctor’s office. I hated this. I dreaded every Friday morning, each one more than the one before. I still hadn’t grasped the fact that part of recovery was going to entail gaining weight. I picked up some bad habits at this time. I started downing bottles of water before I was weighed. I also saved up my money and cashed it in for rolled quarters so that each week, one more roll of quarters would show more weight gain. You see, the ladies at the doctor’s office had zero experience in eating disorders, or at least with anorexia. They had no idea the games I could play, and I was able to get away with them. While the world thought my weight was increasing I was losing the anorexia battle in my head. Being able to get away with what I did kept me from going full force as I should have in recovery. I eventually stopped going to get weighed once I reached 114 so the ritual was ended. I was now left with nothing, and the desire to change my life really began.
While googling nonsense online I came across a few fellow eating disorder recoveries, who I now officially owe my sanity to. I saw in a new light what really goes haywire in an eating disorder. Regardless of whether you suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, the absence of a controlled insulin level in the blood sets it off. You can be an extreme dieter, and your malnutrition will cause so many chemicals in your body to be low when high is needed and high when moderate is needed. With highs and lows in ones glucose level, eating disordered individuals suffer horrible body imbalances. The result? A chemical imbalance in the brain, caused by genetics (so I was born with hereditary imbalances in the brain). The environment is what sets up an individual for an eating disorder, Anorexics keep their glucose so low that when they do eat, regardless of what it is, there is an immediate glucose overload in the blood. The anxious, nervous and obsessive feelings follow. There in come the rituals, bizarre behavior and obsessive perfective nature. It’s not controllable because of what you have put your body through in the past. The disease in your brain will be there for the rest of your life, however how you decide to manage it is up to you. I took the blood sugar analysis on my body and ran with it. I discovered and read everything I could on glucose, insulin and how food affects the body. I wasn’t interested in how many calories are in foods and how to lose weight, but how each piece of food will reacts in the body- biofeedback. I was finally able to handle the disease myself free from the doctor and counselors who were not helping. The disorder was not brought about by anyone but myself, and the human body, my body, is strong enough to beat it.
What I found was meat. Meat is exclusively neutral to reactions in the body. I found individuals who have BEAT their eating disorder, sick individuals who have fought and beat cancer, as well as highly medicated people who have come off everything prescribed to them. I saw healthy people. I envied these people, and I needed to learn how to be my own envy. I learned about the importance of fat, especially saturated fat in the human diet. I have researched more nutritional studies in the past year than I can even fathom. I saw food from the historical, evolutionarily, and sensible side. I saw what real food was. Soon after, I began eating rib eyes, sirloins, chicken thighs with, GASP, skin! I cut out anything from my daily food intake which would cause any sort of blood sugar swing. This included vegetables, fruit, grains and any low-fat substance.
After trial and error, I realized what it means to have satisfaction with food. I was okay with being full because it did not mean I was going to have rushes and a roller coaster of ups and downs in mood. Slowly, food no longer was the enemy at the gates with me. I could and would eat when I was hungry. I could overeat, and not freak out about how I would get rid of the calories. There is no counting; there cannot be obsession because there is absolutely nothing to preoccupy my thought with. It is just that simple. I eat meat, and I drink water. I eliminated everything and started from scratch with food. I did not get there overnight, mind you. I had my vices. Diet soda was a killer for me to give up, as well as sugar free Davinci syrup in my coffee. But both, especially the artificial aspect of sweet tormenting me and my mind, were not helping me at all.