With so much on our figurative plates, many of us struggle to find time and space for proper nourishment.
I’ve been doing the recovery thing for years, and I still sometimes struggle with prioritizing my intake. I can be a little spacey but I’m also a workaholic, so it’s all too easy for me to lose track of when it’s time to eat and tell myself the, “let me just finish this one thing…” story. Can you relate? This tendency is so common, but it is also harmful — especially to those of us in recovery from an eating disorder. Regular meals and snacks are necessary for rebuilding our bodies, healing our hearts, and keeping our heads clear.
I was reminded to work on this after a recent hanger-induced meltdown. While on my shift at work, I was so intent on accomplishing a handful of tasks that all felt “high priority” to me, that I completely lost sight of when it was time to eat. I had my breakfast first thing in the morning, and didn’t stop to think about fueling my body adequately until I clocked out. By the time I arrived home, I realized I was incredibly hungry. I knew I had gone too long without eating because I felt panicky, and like I couldn’t make any decisions. My only thought was, “OMG. I need food NOW.” Feeding myself didn’t feel loving or calm in that moment, although I’m very glad I had some leftovers on hand that were tasty, quick, and filling.
I’ve been reflecting on this experience and realizing that I have some room for improvement when it comes to nourishing myself.
Here’s the thing: It’s all too easy to let food drop to the bottom of our priority lists in the fast-paced world we live in. But when we do that, we lose touch with our bodie's’ cues and it can become more difficult to heal and move forward in recovery. It’s important to give ourselves some grace to be humans and mess up from time to time, but it’s equally as important to take some measures to make sure those hanger-induced meltdowns don’t become a regular thing.
So here are 4 little ways I’m going to implement better practices around nourishing myself. Do any of them sound good to you?
Set an alarm on your phone. I set an alarm to go off literally every hour with the gentle reminder, “Do you need to eat"?” So far, it’s working! It doesn’t mean I need to eat every hour on the hour; it just provides an opportunity for me to check in with myself, breathe, and feel what I’m feeling. (And determine if any of those sensations are hunger!)
Let others feed you. I love to cook, so feeding myself often feels like a really awesome creative expression. But not every meal or snack has to be inspired. Sometimes, it just has to be food. I’m going to work on saying “Yes” when friends and family offer to feed me.
Have a few snack options with you AT ALL TIMES. Many of us have a random protein bar kicking around at the bottom of our bags. But I’ve been known to put off snack time because the particular variety or flavor I had on hand didn’t sound enticing to me in that moment. I’ve started packing a few different flavors of protein shakes and bars, as well as some other filling and satisfying easy-to-carry snacks. My bag is heavier but my stomach is much happier.
Eat even when you don’t “feel” hungry. It can be tricky to discern our hunger cues when we’re in recovery, especially at the beginning. By eating at regular and pre-determined intervals (work on this with a dietitian who understands ED recovery!), we can gently train ourselves to feel, honor, and act on hunger. I’ve made sure I’m eating snacks even if I don’t think I “need” one. Shakes and smoothies are awesome for this, because they’re easy, fun and delicious — this makes them helpful if you’re not yet able to tap into your hunger cues.
Do you feel like you’re struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating? Support is here.
human bean :)