Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Recovery Meal Plan

This is the meal plan that was given to me by the nutritionist at The Renfrew Center while I was there for IOP.  She says that it's important that I stick to this for at least a year before trying to be more "intuitive" or "mindful" so I'm working hard on this every day.

No triggering comments, please.  By that, I mean, please don't comment about how much or little food it is, or how my choices could/should be healthier or lighter, or anything about weight loss or weight gain.  Only supportive comments are welcome on this post.  Other ones may get you banned.  I'm serious about this, because it's really hard for me to share this with you guys, so please be respectful of my wishes.

I'm not posting this as a DIET TIP or as THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR RECOVERY but simply to show you what's going on with me, to give you an idea of what recovery looks like for me.

Okay...  here goes.

At Renfrew, the focus is on food exchanges, not on calories or macronutrients. 

However, I tracked a few days worth of meal plans into My Fitness Pal before I deleted that app/site out of my life forever, and found that it's anywhere from 1600-2000 calories daily, and very balanced as far as macros go.  This is not a weight loss plan, but my nutritionist says that my body will eventually adjust at where it's meant to be if I stick to this plan, especially once my ED behaviors cease completely and I start incorporating regular movement/exercise into my life again.

The exchanges represent the food groups, and they are: protein, starch, fat, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and dessert.

I eat three large meals and one snack daily, along with 2-3 desserts weekly.

For me, and I'm told that there are 3 Renfrew meal plans, but mine is this:

Breakfast-  3 starches, 1 fruit, 1 fat, 1 dairy

Lunch- 2 starches, 3 proteins, 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, 2 fats, 1 dairy


Dinner- 2 starches, 3 proteins, 1 vegetable, 2 fats, 1 dairy

Snack- 3 mixed exchanges of my choice
Desert- 1 "normal" serving of any dessert I want to eat

Here's what makes up 1 exchange:

Starch- 1/2 c grain, 1 serving any packaged items (1 pop tart, 1 granola bar, 1 handful of potato chips, etc.); 1 slice bread; 1 small tortilla

Protein- 1 oz protein (meat, meat sub);  1 c beans = 3 proteins

Dairy- 1 c milk, 1 serving yogurt, 1/4 c cheese

Vegetable- 1 c vegetables, or one medium vegetable

Fruit- 1 c fruit, or one medium piece of fruit

Fat- 1 tsp fat (oil, butter), 1 T nuts, 1/4 avocado

I have basically started to eyeball everything but dinner's beans and grains. 

So many things that I love about eating this way... 

Probably my favorite is that I am eating all of my favorite foods all of the time, including pop tarts and pizza.  I am truly starting to learn that there are NO BAD FOODS, especially when I stick to this meal plan because it's such a good variety.

Also:  It's a LOT of food!  This satisfies me so much that I'm hardly ever hungry outside of meal times.  My binges (which are now very rare, thanks to treatment) are now completely emotional, they are never triggered by hunger.  This makes them easier to identify and usually preventable.

Things that I've learned:  I was NOT EATING ENOUGH before treatment.  My "feed bag" that I bring with me to work every day is huge now, because I have enough things in there to truly nourish my body for 2 meals and 1 snack.  (I eat my snack around 4 during the work week, to prevent the after-work-hunger binge).

Also:  I'm not lactose intolerant.  I used to be, but now my stomach seems fine, even though I'm drinking milk with breakfast and eating yogurt or cheese with the other two meals.  I think that I may still be slightly intolerant, but because I never eat JUST DAIRY, it's always with other food groups, that helps my stomach to handle it.

 I use the app Rise Up! to do food and feelings journaling throughout the day.  The app also features affirmations and coping skills activities.  I love it, and it has been an important part of my recovery.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

I'm still here!

I know that I originally planned to blog weekly with updates about my treatment while in IOP at The Renfrew Center.  But while I was in treatment, it just stopped feeling right to blog.

Maybe because I was getting so much emotional purging done through other formats, like journaling and therapy, and just didn't need this outlet.  Maybe it's because I felt like my treatment was sacred to me, and didn't want to share all of the details on here.  Maybe it's because I was drained, physically and emotionally during this time.  Probably some of each of these reasons.

Anyway, I have learned a lot over the past 2 months while in treatment, and I am planning to blog a lot about the lessons now that I'm out. 

Posts to look out for:

My Meal Plan- I will tell you all about the meal plan that I plan to follow for recovery purposes for at least a year.  My nutritionist says that it's important to be fairly "strict" about it for at least that long before trying to be more "intuitive" about it.

Coping Skills- all about the healthy coping skills I've learned

Sitting with the feelings- all about how to sit with difficult emotions instead of turning to an ED behavior

...and more!

I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things with this blog and with the rest of my life.  A lot of personal developments in my life are going to be featured in this blog soon as well.  I've come to accept that life is all about change, even if change is my biggest fear.  It's okay to walk away from things that are bad for you. 

Also, I'm looking for some food journal support from you readers!  A big part of my recovery has been keeping a food and feelings journal on the Rise Up app and sending regular entries to my nutrionist at Renfrew.

I am no longer with a nutritionist because outside of Renfrew, I can't afford it.  But I would love to still have the accountability of sending regular journal entries to someone.  So, if you would like to be added to my journal email list, please email me at and let me know, or leave me your email address in the comments of this post (or a comment on my Facebook post about this post).

The journal entries get pretty emotional and raw sometimes, so if you like to read that kind of thing, you should sign up! 

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me.  I'm so happy that I did this for myself.  I am still with Renfrew, but as a part of their "Aftercare Program" which meets weekly, and as a member of their alumni association.

I am taking my recovery seriously.  I deserve recovery.  We all do.


Friday, March 27, 2015

IOP- Week One recap

I learned a lot about why I did indeed need to seek treatment, so it has been very validating for me.  Validation is extremely important to me, so I'm glad that after a week at The Renfrew Center, I know that it's a very good thing that I am back in treatment.

Part of me was afraid that it was the wrong thing to do, that I didn't really need it, that I could get it under control on my own.

Anyway, the first thing that I learned is that my initial fears were unwarranted.  I am not the only binge eater in the program.  It's a group of women with a wide variety of EDs.   These women are all beautiful, smart, creative, and friendly.  I'd like to think that I am also all of those things.  Why do such wonderful women end up with such terrible mental illnesses?  It's a head scratcher.

I will not speak any more of the other women in the program on here, as it would be a violation of their privacy.

I'm so glad that all of them found the same help that I have found, and that together, we will work to fight these food and body demons.

The second thing that I learned is that I really need to get control of my emotions.  The first thing step is recognizing them. 

I have learned that I don't even know my own emotions most of the time.  Emotions are the root of my eating disorder.  I use food and body hate to cope with my emotions, and I don't even really know which emotions I'm feeding most of the time.  I just know that I feel uncomfortable, and that eating alleviates that, as does switching the focus to body hate, or to being excited about a new diet and/or exercise plan.

But what emotions am I avoiding?  I have started to look at this worksheet a lot to try to figure it out, and to check in with myself 3 times a day about it (roughly morning, afternoon, and night).

This is one of those silly things that I originally thought "that's dumb and childish".  But it has actually been quite eye-opening.  I had no idea how out of touch with my emotions I was.

The third biggest lesson of the week is the cycle of the ED behaviors that are use to suppress said emotions.

I shared this picture with you a couple of days ago on my Facebook page:

This shows the ED behavior cycle.  First, we ("we" here means all of us with eating disorders, who currently engage in ED behaviors, such as bingeing, binge/purging, purging, restricting, obsessing about body/diet, etc.) feel an emotion, usually a negative one (though some people are also very uncomfortable with positive emotions as well). 

Next, our discomfort rises, and we turn to an ED behavior to suppress/numb the feeling.  The feeling goes away for awhile, but ultimately comes back, or another emotion soon arises, and the cycle continues.

What we need to learn is to sit with our emotions/feelings.  The feeling will grow, and get worse, and climax.  But after that, it will actually dissipate all on its own.  Feelings are not meant to last forever.  We need to learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings, instead of turning to our ED behaviors to suppress them. 

The final HUGE lesson I took away this week is that I don't eat enough.

That may sound hilarious, because calorie-wise, I eat tons.  On a binge day, I could consume well over 5,000 calories.

But with my new recovery-focused meal plan that my nutritionist is working with me on, my meals are simply... huge.

I was actually Underfeeding myself at meals, which led to lots of snacking, and sometimes led to binges (when the binges started out as responses to actual hunger, which was often the case).

I don't count calories anymore, and I am going to make a vow to not count calories for the entire time I'm in treatment with The Renfrew Center.  My ED brain wants me to declare that I will "never count calories again!!!" because it thinks very all-or-nothing.  Though I would like to declare that, it probably isn't realistic.

The Renfrew Center nutrition meal plan is focused on exchanges rather than calories or macros.  Its aim is to make sure that we are feeding ourselves enough and a variety of foods.

I'll post about my specific plan in a future post, but for now just know that I was NOT eating enough at meals. 

For example, I am still allowed to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast, but I have to also eat some dairy and some fruit. 

This morning's breakfast felt like too much food (1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup of milk, 1 apple, 1 granola bar, 1 tbs peanut butter - this is 3 starch-1dairy-1fat-1fruit exchanges - again, more in the next post!), but I wasn't starving by lunch.  I was appropriately hungry. 

Maybe a part of recovery is snacking less often, because meals really fill you up.  It's interesting, and definitely wasn't the approach that was taught a decade ago at Omni Behavioral Health.  Then again, ED treatment is a science, and science changes with new information.

Okay, so those are my top lessons for week 1!  As you can tell, I'm learning a lot there, and I'm mostly actually enjoying my time at The Renfrew Center.


Monday, March 23, 2015

IOP - anticipation/thoughts

(written 3/22)

So, tomorrow I start actual eating disorder treatement again, for the first time in a decade.  I will be at The Renfrew Center, in what they call IOP (Intensive Outpatient) treatment.

I am taking about 4 hours off from work every week for at least 6 weeks in order to do this.  This terrifies me, as I hate asking for favors from anyone, especially the folks who hired me after all of that job searching.  I love where I work, and who I work for and with, and my job is the main reason that I think Nashville will stay my home for at least the next several years.

I have plenty of available time off to take, but it feels weird taking it in tiny chunks over two months instead of just taking a week off.  Like this way is more inconvenient for my co-workers.  And I hate being an inconvenience to anyone, except for assholes.  It's fun begin inconvenient for assholes.

Anyway,  I have the time off from work approved, and this treatment is very important to me.  So I'm doing it.

IOP meets three evenings a week.  It's a combination of group and individual therapy, mixed with nutrition therapy and I'm sure all sorts of things that I will discover as time goes on.

I am pretty sure that I will be the only binge eater there, and also pretty sure that I will be the only obese person there, but I'm trying to not care.  I'm trying to realize that binge eating disorder is a real thing, and my being there is just as valid as an anorexic or a bulimic being there.

And maybe my story will inspire the others, rather than scare them. If I could help one young woman realize that if she doesn't focus hard on recovery now, she may be where I'm at in ten years, that would be great.

More than likely, everyone there will be too busy fighting their own battles to even care about my body size or story. 

Anyway, I'm nervous about this.

It's a new beginning for me, so I'm also excited about it.

IOP will be a time of really focusing on my mental health, which is desperately needed at this point in my life.  I look forward to the healing that will happen throughout this process.

I am going to commit to giving this my all, 100% of my effort.

Even when whatever they want me to do seems silly, or repetitive, or not for me.  I will do it. 

I am not expecting miraculous results, but I am hoping, that with my commitment and time, my eating disorder's voice will quiet some over the next couple of months, and my inner strength will become loud and bright.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The unrealistic goals... and the realistic ones.

In 2005, when I was in the depths of struggling with my anorexic EDNOS, I really thought that if I could be skinny, then all of my problems would disappear and I could do anything I wanted in life.  So long as the fat wasn't holding me back, there was nothing that could stand in my way.

In 2015, currently in the depths of struggling with my binge-eating EDNOS, I really think that if could just be done with the EDNOS, there isn't anything I can't do.  If I can recover, truly recover, and learn how to keep my EDNOS under control, there is nothing that will stand in my way.

There are some definite parallels to these thought processes. 

This is something that I will address with my therapist. 

However, I do believe that my new attitude is healthier than my old one. 

It really is true that more doors will become open for me once this eating disorder is under control, or even completely behind me.

But I will still have to work hard for things that I want to accomplish.  There will be no magical happily ever after ending to this tale if/when I get a normal relationship with food. 

I will still have to take the GRE and go through the challenge that is applying for grad school.

I will still have to work hard to earn a promotion at work.

I will still have to work hard to maintain a solid relationship with Stacey.

I will still have to work hard to improve my credit score, save money, and one day buy a house and have a family.  All of these things are not guarantees just because I want them, and I have recovered from an eating disorder.

But they will be more manageable goals once I don't have the ED distracting me constantly, and once my depression and anxiety are under control with medication and therapy. 

So, in summation:

unrealistic goal:  Life will be perfect and everything will be easy once I'm recovered!

realistic goal:  First of all, there probably isn't an "I'm recovered now" moment in my future.  I will likely have to always keep my ED in check, as I will likely always have the ED, much like "once an addict, always an addict" and much like my depression and anxiety, which can be managed but are never really gone.  Secondly, life will be better, but not perfect.  Thirdly, many things will be easier, but most of the things that I want out of life will still require hard work.

P.S.  I am going to do a giveaway soon!  It will likely be recovery-based, since that's where my mind is at these days.  Maybe a cool body-positive piece of artwork, or a book of your choice along with a fancy journal?  I will keep you informed.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

the embarassing existence of the yo-yo

I am a yo-yo.

I would call myself a yo-yo dieter, but that's not true.  I am a yo-yo disordered eating sufferer. 

And it's embarrassing as hell.

You know that moment when you run into someone who hasn't seen you for months, or years?  How embarrassed you are if it's an ex, or someone else who you would like to see you looking your best, but they caught up with you at Target with your hair up in a greasy bun, no makeup, and with like 10 extremely noticeable zits on your chin and nose, so of course they see you and want to catch up?

Imagine if instead of the hair, makeup and zits, you had gained 30, 50, 80, or even 100 pounds.

The hair, makeup, and acne can all be fixed or covered up, and you can give a cutesy "I can't believe you caught me like this!  I'm a mess!" excuse.

The fat?  The fat that society has drilled into almost everyone's head is a character flaw, a sign of laziness, sloppiness, stupidity, and lack of self-care?  The fat that everyone knows is not something that can be covered up, but that most folks think is easy to get rid of?  The fat that labels a person as weak and less worthy?

Yeah, the fat has no cute excuse. 

It's embarrassing to fluctuate so much.  I'm sick of it.  If a weirdo genie or fairy told me that they could magically make it so that I maintained my current size of 247 lb forever, or I could keep on trying to lose weight, I would choose to maintain my current size.

I hate being a yo-yo.  My weight fluctuates at least 50 pounds every year, since I was 17 (I'm now 30) and it needs to stop.

But not now, unless that genie or fairy appears, I will be a yo-yo at least one more time.  I need to get over this binge eating disorder and make sure that it doesn't morph back into anorexia or bulimia (this is why I have an official diagnosis of EDNOS, I tend to go back and forth between all of the EDs).  And then wherever my weight ends up, once I'm truly past the ED behaviors, that's where I will stay forever, even if it's still over 200 pounds. 

My metabolism is FUCKED from all of the years of self-torture, so I doubt that I can get to and easily maintain a skinny size, and that's okay.  I just want the ED thoughts to be gone, and for my weight to stabilize.  Is that too much to ask?

 I can't wait to start seeing my new ED therapist tomorrow!