Saturday, October 30, 2010

Meal Plans, Food Rituals & Other Tid-Bits

A reader asked me this question in an email recently, and I thought it might be helpful to many of you who are struggling with similar issues.

She asked:

"I am a weight restored anorexic (for 11months now) but occasionally struggle with self-harm, and more recently purging.

1. My psychologist who I see once a month (and cannot see any more frequently) is trying to help me expand my food repertoire as I've been stuck on a dietitian's meal plan for 2 years now. However, I have no idea what 'normal' meals are. There a million recipes on the internet but how do I know which one to choose? I do live with my mum, but I work in the evening and she works during the day so we miss each other at dinner. We never have a family meal together so I have no one to look to for ideas about what they eat.

2. I've been at a healthy weight for so long, but I still dislike the look of my body. Every day I look in the mirror to see if I've grown over weight overnight or not (as ridiculous as it seems). Do you personally like your body appearance or do you simply accept it as it is? (I've seen your 'comparison' video and that really helped me a lot to challenge the comparisons and I no longer compare myself to others).

3. I know your did a video on food rituals. I'm honest and say I still have some (food not touching on plate, order in which I eat my food, how I eat my sandwich, weighing most foods before eating them). However, I just wanted to ask whether it is OK to keep them? After all, they are not so bad that I cannot eat out with others (I regularly do) and I personally like them as they make me feel safe. They don't impact on my health, and I don't care if people will laugh at me.

4. I'm going to university next year. I believe you have got a degree/have studied in higher education and want to ask you whether you can give me advise on staying safe if you have a history of an ED? Obviously there are many changes: living away from home, being more independent, being with so many new faces etc. Any tips?"

My responses:

1 - Expanding meal options is always difficult. You're not alone. It might take some time to get adjusted and feel comfortable. Don't give up if you feel uncomfortable with the expansion the first few times (or even the first several). Is your dietitian able to help you with expanding? If you no longer see the dietitian and have simply been following a meal plan for a while, I would suggest making a few more appointments with the intent to healthfully and comfortably expand what you have already been doing. A dietitian will be able to tailor some meals for you and with you that are not part of a strict plan. He or she can hopefully give you some sample ideas you can try to incorporate.

Don't get stuck on the word "normal." There is no "normal" meal. Normal is something different to everyone and we all have different needs and likes. Try to list 5 foods you enjoy and see what's out there recipe wise for them. Forgetting about portion/calories/nutrition for a moment, print a few that look good to you and bring them to your psychologist (or dietician) and discuss. Getting their opinions can help you see if they look sufficient meal wise and may help validate your opinion of whether or not they are good meals for you.

2 - Yes, I do in fact like my body. At first, years ago when I first was putting on weight, I was just accepting it. But in time, I grew to like it and even love it. I know this might sound unbelievable - the women in my group often shake their heads at me in disbelief - but it's true. There was a time I could never imagine weighing what I do, because I thought it 1) impossible 2) thought I wouldn't be "me" and 3) thought it was too much. I stand corrected. :) I'm very happy with myself but it does take time, so be patient. You will get there.

3 - As for food rituals. I don't know that I'm qualified to say whether it's okay to keep them or not. My personal opinion is that they hold a person back, as they are still technically a piece of their disorder. Try to examine WHY you are keeping them or want to keep them. WANTING to keep them indicates that they make you feel safe or comfortable and that is not necessarily a good thing, but ideally (to be truly recovered) you should be able to get more and more out of your comfort zone until you can eating "normally." If the food rituals are like a security blanket for you, eventually it will be time to let go and move beyond them. That time may not be now if you have other things to focus on first. It is all about progress, Diana. If your intent is to progress in recovery, do not intend to hold on to your food rituals. Realize that they are just coping mechanisms for feeling comfortable in situations. That said, don't get hung up on this issue - you are clearly doing well in your recovery and this does not seem like a priority at the moment.

4 - I did a video a long time ago about going away to university (college here): Coping with College
It's quite an old video (when my video camera still gave me a lisp and I was fairly new to the YouTube community). I think you'll find that it will answer what you are asking. I know there are differences between the school systems here and where you are, but the concepts I talk about are the same. I started college/university in 2002 and definitely understand where you are coming from. I graduated with a degree in 2006 so it's a bit in my past, but I well remember what it was like. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eating Disorders & The Media

This week's topic is The Media & Eating Disorders. This has been talked about many times over, and I've spoken about it/written about it before, but today's video touches on it again. In this video, I mention my feelings on the media, how it affects me, and what we can do to keep negative effects of the media at bay.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Food Side of Things

Here's this week's video - The Food Side of Things. We talk so much about the emotional and psychological aspect of eating disorders (which are very important), but this week I talk a bit more about the food aspect.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Responses to YOUR Answers to My Why Video

I know it's been video land lately on my blog, which is funny, because my first love and main staple is writing. I guess it's easier for me to just post videos on days that I am busy (which seems to be every day lately!) because I already have a commitment to make them anyway.

I posted a video not too long ago, in which I asked you why you felt that you couldn't achieve the same recovery I have. It's something I hear so often and I was trying to challenge that. I received so many responses, as comments on YouTube, as emails, as messages, and as comments on here - so I began making a video to address your answers to my question. It turned out to be two videos, and now seems like when all is said and done it will be three videos. :) Three parts, that is.

So, here are Part One and Part Two of My Responses to Your Answers to My Why Video. Part Three will be on its way by the end of the week.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Birthday x 2

Well, this week marks not only my 26th birthday, but the 3rd birthday of my blog Actively Arielle as well! Thank you to all my readers, viewers, followers, and friends. I appreciate all your thoughts, comments, messages, and support of the blog.

I will leave you with today's video - the topic is: the ONE thing I really want to tell viewers about recovery.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Question for YOU - Why?

This is a video I did about 2 weeks ago - it was a bonus video, not one of my weekly Wednesday ones. I really wanted to ask this question (the question within the video) of all of my readers/viewers/etc. and I have gotten so many responses so far, both in the comments of the video on YouTube and via email and private messages. I plan to do a follow-up video very soon to respond to many of the answers I received, so please, leave me your thoughts if you have any.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Apologies

To anyone who may have received a hoax email from me, I am truly sorry. My gmail email accounts were hacked, as was my Facebook account. I spent all day yesterday trying to avoid identity theft. It has been a true nightmare.

If you opened the email or replied, you are not in danger. The scam was to get money from you. So only if you provided money or bank info are you at risk. I have gotten my computer assessed (it is fine) and just finally got access to my gmail accounts again. I was not able to access my blogs (they are attached to gmail) or YouTube because of this, therefore I could not tell you that it was not true. I could not remove the hoax post or even log on to update a post to tell you to disregard it. I am fine and was never in the UK. Someone accessed my account.

The post on my blog was fake and was not ME. I was hacked and it has been utterly exhausting trying to rectify this.

Yesterday was hell and I was finally able to re-instate my Facebook account by proving to the FB Team that I am me in a variety of ways. I was glad to have Facebook back, simply because it meant I could communicate with people again.

I am in the process of fixing everything and so far so good. Until further notice, please contact me on Facebook only (Arielle Lee Bair - I'm the only one). I plan to get a new email address shortly, but since my blog has to be associated with a google account, I do not know how I can get around not having gmail.

Please keep me in your thoughts - I had to leave work yesterday and take 4 hours of vacation time just to (begin to) sort this out. Many phone calls from worried people later, I am still in a tizzy over it all. I appreciate all the kind thoughts and concern. Please know that I would never post something like that (or email it).