Less than a year ago, if you’d told me that I would go to a restaurant and eat burgers and chips, I’d have said no way. That would be an anorexia recovery food challenge that I would not feel capable of doing. And not only that, but I also would not want to do it. But do you know what I did last weekend? I went out and ate burgers, chips and halloumi fries! Once considered an anorexia recovery food challenge too great, but now one that didn’t even feel THAT challenging.
So, last weekend I went out to watch a tribute show with my friend. Dinner was provided at the show, but we didn’t know in advance what it was going to be. And what came out was a sharing platter of burgers, chips and halloumi fries! I’ve not eaten burgers and chips in a restaurant for over 15 years. And I have never eaten halloumi fries. But rather than panic and try to avoid eating as much as possible, I tucked in.
There were six ‘mini’ burgers on the sharing platter, so three burgers each. Two beef burgers, two halloumi burgers, and two battered fish burgers. And a mountain of chips and halloumi fries in the middle of the platter. Previously, being faced with this as my dinner would have terrified me. Literally, terrified me. I would have gone into panic and thought “oh my god, what am I going to do?!” Whilst I did have an initial wave of anxiety when I saw it was burgers and chips, this didn’t last long. My friend dived right in for the fish burger, so I went for the beef burger.
In the past, I would maybe have been able to challenge myself to eat the actual beef burger, but I would have left the bread roll. And I would no way have even touched a chip, let alone put one in my mouth! Those thoughts did cross my mind. Maybe I should leave the bread, you shouldn’t eat the chips. But the fact of the matter was, I actually wanted to be able to eat the bread and chips. I was going out for dinner and this was the dinner provided. So I ate it. Surprisingly, I was absolutely fine!
Once the initial, brief panic of facing the anorexia recovery food challenge of eating burgers and chips had settled down, I just ate. Laughing and chatting with my friend, I just ate the burgers, chips and halloumi fries. I was joining in, and I was being like everyone else in the restaurant eating their sharing platter. My evening out with my friend would not be wasted by worrying about what I was eating and thinking that I needed to leave this and that. I didn’t even think about it. I just ate it all like a normal dinner. It was great!
My friend only wanted the fish burgers, so she had both of those. I had both of the beef burgers. Now again, in the past, if someone I was with was only eating a certain amount of food, I would have only eaten that amount, or less. So, because my friend had only eaten two burgers, it meant I should have only eaten two. In the past that might have been my rule. But now it’s not. I wanted a third burger, so I had a third burger. It was the halloumi burger, and I ate it all. And we were both helping ourselves to the chips and halloumi fries in the middle of the platter until we had both had enough.
I didn’t realise what I had done at the time. That I had eaten burgers and chips for the first time in over 15 years! It wasn’t until I went to bed that night and was reflecting on what a good night I’d had that I realised – I’ve just eaten burgers and chips!!!!! It actually felt quite incredible and so empowering. Even more so because I hadn’t really thought about it at the time. I was just out with a friend, eating and enjoying myself. This is what anorexia recovery is all about. I have done a vlog on my YouTube channel about my night & you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/tYHvVt0BSw0
When you do anorexia recovery food challenges, the temptation can be to restrict beforehand or afterwards. It’s one of those stupid anorexia food rules (which I wrote a blog about & you can read it here: Anorexia Food Rules)
But I am very pleased to say that I didn’t, and I actually didn’t want to. Before going out to dinner, I ate breakfast and lunch as normal, and coming home from the show, I actually had a snack because I was still hungry. The following day, I ate all my food as normal. Our bodies are not robots, or mathematic equations. We don’t need to balance things out. We don’t need to miss lunch because we are going out for dinner. Our bodies don’t know that we have gone out for dinner – food is food, it provides nutrition whether we eat it at home, at a restaurant, or anywhere in the world.
If we eat more than we normally do, it doesn’t mean that we are going to gain masses of weight overnight. My friend wasn’t going to gain kilos because she had eaten burgers, chips and halloumi fries on a night out. And if she had suggested she would, then I’d have told her not be so stupid! The rule applies to me, and everyone else too. So there is no need to try and balance it out. There is no need to eat less beforehand, or restrict the next day. I used to do that all the time. And actually, the hardest part of anorexia recovery food challenges wasn’t eating the food, but not engaging in compensatory behaviours. But I have no time for that eating disorder crap anymore.
Life is short. I want to look back on my life and remember good, happy moments. Not a lifetime spent counting numbers and balancing out equations. Life is for living, not for ED restricting. Do the challenges and break the ED rules. The more we do it, the easier it gets. We start moving away from a life of ED restrictions, and we start living.
I also wrote a blog a few weeks ago about some other anorexia recovery challenges that I have done recently: Anorexia Recovery Challenges
I’d love if you wanted to subscribe to my blog & social media to follow me on my anorexia recovery journey. Let me know any challenges you have done recently in the comments!