I spent the last 30 days writing down 5 things I’m thankful for and it changed my life. I am so much more grateful for the things I have, and I’d longer consider myself a “miserable person” like I used to say in my blog tagline! However, as the challenge went on, I realized I have some serious issues to address to become my happiest, fullest self.
I’ll be blunt – I have an eating disorder. When I become stressed, I go bulimic. I’ll binge on any junk food in sight – cookies, chips, ice cream – and then purge it. Rinse and repeat a couple times, and there you have it – my super awesome, patented, innovative stress relief technique! 😛 Most people in my life don’t know about it, because I only relapse when I’m “really stressed”. The problem is “really stressed” is becoming “all the time“.
Since I want to kick my eating disorder and heal my relationship with food, I’ve decided to take on the Whole30 as my next 30 day challenge. I originally considered doing something more gratitude-related, like “30 Days of Altruism”, but I believe resolving my food issues should be done first. After all, I don’t think I can be truly happy as long as I’m struggling with an eating disorder.
The basic idea behind the challenge is for the next 30 days, I will:
- Eat real food
- No sweeteners (natural or artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, or processed foods
I actually eat this way for majority of the time, sans my bulimia episodes. The key challenge for me will be to manage the way I deal with my triggers. I’ve noticed they boil down to 3 things:
- Stress (obviously). This includes tough assignments at work, difficult coworkers, and the anxiety that results from the former. It doesn’t help that the stress causes insomnia, which makes me less productive at work, which then makes me stressed about not being able to finish things quickly enough.
- Fatigue. I regularly work long days. When I’ve been out of the house since 7am, the last thing I want to do at 8pm is cook dinner. I feel strong temptations to pick up a quick fix at a restaurant, grocery store, etc on the way home. When the fatigue comes coupled with stress, these “quick fixes” easily snowball into binge eating episodes.
- Caloric restriction. If I haven’t eaten for the day, I am much more likely to binge at dinner.
To cope, I will:
- Deal with stress by writing in my gratitude journal. Throughout my 30 Day Gratitude Experiment, one of the things I realized was writing down the things I’m grateful for was a great way to curb stress. It’s hard to be stressed while you’re focusing on things you’re thankful for. I am also developing a “stress relief framework” to nip anxiety in the bud based off a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program I did for social anxiety a while back. I’m still working out the details, but I will share it with you when I am done!
- Prepare dinners in advance and take them with me to work. Since I get home at 8pm or 9pm some days, waiting to cook when I get home isn’t an option. If I have the food with me, I won’t be as tempted to drop by the grocery store for a quick fix at the end of a long day. I bought 3 IKEA containers that I will fill with healthy food beforehand.
- Not restrict calories. Hunger makes me much more likely to binge. I don’t have a detailed meal plan, other than “lots of veggies, a little protein (50% lean protein like chicken and 50% oily fish), and a little fruit”. I plan to refine this as I go, making adjustments based on my energy levels. Years of disordered eating make it difficult for me to feel “hunger”, but I still get very tired if I haven’t eaten for a while. If I feel tired (and have had enough sleep), I will take that as a sign that I need to eat more.
I’ll also be posting pictures of what I eat to keep myself accountable.
To health and happiness!