I think it’s time we talk about your diet and the meaning you attach to it. I often hear (and used to prescribe to such beliefs myself) about different diets in my office. Now when I say diet’s I am not referring to Atkins, Weight Watchers etc (although I hear a lot about them as well) but rather diets in the sense of vegetarianism, veganism, gluten free, raw, paleo etc.
To start I am going to be honest. I have no issue with people having certain diets assuming the reason they don’t eat meat, dairy, gluten, cooked food, grains etc is because of a belief system or preference that has nothing to do with weight. I for one don’t eat most meat (I love seafood) or even that much gluten for that matter (unless I am out for dinner), but the reason for this is because I don’t like the texture of meat and my husband is a celiac.
I believe we all have preferences with the food we eat and it’s important to listen to your body and eat in a way that really feels best for you. Where I get concerned is when people come in and are adhering to a diet because doing so gives them “permission” to restrict. Our eating disorders want to make restricting as easy as possible. By choosing to adhere to a particular diet it automatically eliminates a lot of our options and we use it to give us a pass on a lot of foods.
Recovering from an eating disorder is hard enough as it is. One of the first steps I focus on with regards to refeeding is getting you to increase your intake of your safe foods, but once this becomes easier it is important to look at your diet and see if how you are eating is a choice you are making because of your beliefs or because of your eating disorder.
Truthfully the best way to eat isn’t to follow any particular diet but rather to listen to your body and eat according to its needs. Attaching a label to how you eat only works if it is what makes you feel best or because of a strong belief system. Sometimes we start something and at the time it fits with what your body needs/wants at that time. Maybe it is this way for a long long time, but then again maybe it isn’t. For example if you have been vegetarian for a long time but notice yourself craving meat then maybe it’s about giving yourself permission to stop ignoring your body and try a small piece. Assess how you feel afterwards and realize that if you feel better then great, if not, that is great too – it’s your body’s way of saying no thank you.
If you are at the stage in your recovery where you can start experimenting with foods then take some time to really listen to what your body is asking for. It will lead to a healthier, stronger and happier body and self. Labels can confine us and hold us back. Be brave and give yourself permission to stop clinging to things that don’t add to your quality of life.