My life is controlled by numbers. I don’t eat food, I eat numbers. The only meal that isn’t exactly calorie counted is my dinner, but I know it is always roughly the same. I know how many calories I can eat in a day, so all my food is based around this. If I eat this for breakfast which is X calories, it means I can have X calories for lunch, and that leaves me X calories for my evening snack. Every evening is the same. I tot up how many calories I have eaten in the day to see how many I have left. This dictates what I am allowed to eat. And this is ludicrous!
There is food that I want to eat but am not ‘allowed to’ because it doesn’t fit in with my numbers. I’ve lost count (no pun intended) of the number of times I’ve thought about what I fancy for my evening snack, then added up the numbers only to find I’m 20 calories (or whatever number) over my ‘allowance.’ I’m so fed up with living like this…yet I’m also terrified to be brave and change. I long for the day that I can eat food because I WANT to eat it, rather than it being the correct number. When I eat out for dinner, I eat the meal that fits in with my calorie allowance, not the meal I would actually want to eat. And everything is portioned exactly – I weigh and measure food so I know exactly how many numbers I am eating.
Anorexia and counting calories has been a part of my life for so long and it is so ingrained. I do it on automatic pilot. I have counted calories for the best part of 2 decades…and I have only lived for 3! And whilst I hate being restricted by the numbers, they also make me feel safe. It is far less stressful and anxiety provoking when I know I am having the right numbers every day & it keeps anorexia quieter in my head. But, after 2 decades of eating numbers, I am realising that this HAS to change.
If an actual person was telling you what you could and couldn’t eat every single day, you wouldn’t stand for it. No, you can’t eat that cereal, it’s too many calories. There’s no way you can have that sandwich, look how many calories it is! Only in your dreams could you have pasta for dinner. You wouldn’t stand for it if someone was saying these things to you. But when it is our own head saying it, it is absolutely fine; it is normal and we don’t question it.
But I am questioning it now. Yes, that’s right anorexia – I’m questioning you. Why do you get to tell me what I can and cannot eat every day? Why do you get to tell me what number I am allowed? Why do you get to tell me I can have 80ml of milk and not 100ml, or 100g of chicken rather than what I fancy? This has to be challenged. It is absolutely terrifying and I am not sure I can do it but I have to try. Because if I don’t try and change, then nothing will change. I will have lived for 4 decades and eaten numbers for 3.
|My first non calorie counted lunch|
|My first unportioned cereal|
The main fear is that not counting numbers and eating unportioned food will lead to weight gain. I will simply eat too much and I will gain weight if I am not exactly portioning and counting my food. But the fear of being stuck like this for the rest of my life is also very scary. So I am starting the challenge. In fact, I started it on holiday at the end of July. For the first time in a VERY long time, I had unportioned cereal for my evening snack. My god was it scary…but I did it. And I am alive to tell the tale. But it is all well and good doing something once…now I need to continue. My plan is to (hopefully) start eating food as breakfast, lunch and dinner, whatever their calories. I’m going to have to take it slowly, step by step…after all, changing decades of ingrained rituals is not going to happen over night. And I know it is going to be hard, very hard. And also very scary. I’m getting nerves and butterflies now just thinking about it and writing my plan on paper. The fears of weight gain are immense. But you only get one shot at life and most of mine so far has been dictated by anorexia. And this cannot continue. And since I wrote this blog nearly a month ago, I have gone out for two meals – one at lunch and one at dinner…and I have not known the calories! It was incredibly difficult, particularly at the end of the day when I was trying to decide what to have for my evening snack without knowing how many calories I had eaten earlier. But I told myself, lunch is lunch and dinner is dinner. Whilst be very scary, it was also quite liberating. Courage does not mean you don’t get scared. It means you don’t let fear stop you. And I cannot…I will not, let it stop me.