Eating

I just had a good friend that I met while in hospital come and visit me for the past 10 days. Sadly she left yesterday but she taught me a few lessons and opened my eyes to a few parts of myself that I did not see as clearly before. No worries though. I did the same for her. πŸ˜‰

This friend has a very restricted diet that can not include gluten, oats, rye, she must stay lactose free (cheese, milk, etc.), she is on a special plan that helps with an irritable gut/bowel and she has reactive hypoglycemia. I was very worried about trying to feed her healthy and acceptable foods while she was here and I will admit I thought that she would be the one that would require and get the most attention when it came to food and meals.
I was wrong.

I did a good grocery shopping to ensure I had all the acceptable foods in the house then just made meals from them. it really wasn’t a big deal at all. I quickly realized that she eats a great diet for her needs and has plenty of variety in her days. Everything sounds great right? Well….

The biggest surprise for me was the issues that I still have surrounding eating. I have always had issues with food but never really realized just how many I had. As a child I was given foods that were tainted so I don’t tend to trust that many foods are okay. I still find myself watching to make sure no one makes my food separately and I let the host eat the foods first just to be sure it is okay. I know I don’t need to but why bother having PTSD if you won’t be hyper-vigilant? πŸ˜‰

What really shocked my friend was how little I ate and how infrequently. A days worth of calories for me is probably in the 400-600 range on a good day. Far too little to stay healthy. My body is not thin though. I am quite heavy because my body takes every single calorie and hangs on to it as though I am starving. In reality? I suppose I am.

My size hides my secret well because few people look at someone who is overweight and assume they don’t eat enough to stay well. In a way it hid the truth from me as well. Until this friend came and ate regular, balanced meals and snacks all throughout her day, I honestly never even knew what a healthy food day looked like. Now I do and I realize that I need to find a way to get some help surrounding this issue.

I wonder if any of my wonderful readers have also struggled with this issue? Do you? Eating too much, eating too little. avoiding entire food groups, or going on fad diets? I wonder if this inability to eat well is common in the PTSD or mental health population. I have a funny feeling that it just may be. I’d love to hear from others dealing with this issue. Those of you that feel comfortable sharing.

It would be terrific if the answer for anyone with an eating “issue” was to just eat more, eat less, or eat this – not that. In reality that may be exactly all that needs to happen but that would be like telling someone who has PTSD to just forget about their past and they’d be fine or someone who is depressed to think happy thoughts and not sad ones. It is somewhat true in a way but doesn’t really deal with the problems does it? If only life was that easy.

I look at food and I see pieces of various foods that may look and taste great yet they will be put in my mouth and feel like a piece of cement that must be chewed and swallowed. It doesn’t take many pieces of cement before I am feeling sick to my stomach, stuffed full and gross.
I dread eating out in some ways even though I enjoy getting out with friends or family. People always notice how slow I eat and/or the waitress takes other people’s plates away while I am still trying to force down part of my meal which only makes it even more obvious that I am lagging behind. When I just can not stuff in one more tiny bit of food, I push it away and often get questions from the waitress or those around me who assume I didn’t like it or enjoy it because there is so much left over. I DO enjoy as much as I can but I just can’t force one more tiny bit past my lips.
I try. I really do. I just can’t do what others do and allow food to go into my mouth, chew a few times and swallow with seemingly little or no difficulty. I wish I could.

I suppose that being aware of this is a big first step. I talked to my therapist about it a bit and I am sure we will discuss it more. She now knows that I do not eat enough but she does not yet know how hard it is for me to change that. Who knows… maybe she does? I should not assume.
My past is filled with horrible food memories. Tainted food. Being starved then force-fed copious amounts of anything you really did not like or foods that bothered you. Having no access to water for set periods of time or being made to drink certain fluids that I won’t detail in here. Eating became unsafe very quickly and feeling safe around food again is harder than I ever thought it would be.

At least one thing is for sure… I won’t run out of issues that I need to work on for a while yet. It keeps life interesting right?
In all fairness to myself though, even people with no trauma at all struggle with weight, food, proportions, time it takes to eat (too fast, too slow), they are too fat or too thin. There are also many people who look just fine but their insides don’t match their outsides. It’s a tricky issue for many of us right?

In the end I think my therapist said it best when she asked me “Are you willing to start making changes?” I am ready to start but I know it won’t be easy. If this is an issue for you, are you ready yet or do you need more time to ponder it? Either answer is fine. No one can do much of anything until they are truly ready. Maybe this blog will at least get a few people thinking and we can work together towards a healthier life. Food

19 responses to “Eating

  1. This is a huge issue for me. Although I was a skinny, quite athletic child when puberty hit everything seemed to go haywire and I have struggled with my weight ever since. From age 15 onwards I was pretty much always on a diet, which meant I existed on less than 800 calories most days. Sadly, they weren’t always “good” calories. Then at 22 one of my best friends was diagnosed with anorexia. Seeing how this impacted on her health and her life (even now in our fifties) was a huge wake-up call for me. I still dieted, but stopped skipping meals and always tried to eat healthily.

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    • It is great that you were able to make a change to be healthier. I like that your focus is health and not about being skinny.
      Are you still able to eat fairly regularly and not be on a diet all the time?

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    • I am glad that you were able to change your ways to be more healthy Wendy. It sure is a huge issue for so many people.
      Keep your healthy ways and hopefully they will rub off on me. πŸ™‚

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  2. I’m in the very preliminary stages of beginning to talk about my eating disorder with my therapist. She knows enough to understand that most of my disordered eating stems from issues of control, abuse, and punitive measures around food and my family-of-origin. I’m not even sure this is something that can ever be “fixed” – it feels so engrained in my body and life. But we’ll see how it plays out. Wishing you the best as you take this journey.

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    • I feel as you do that this is just something I can not change but I have been encouraged to try and I will. I know you will too.
      My issues are very similar and the fear created by not having food around and then equal fear to eat it seems to follow me everywhere.
      Please do let me know how you progress along your journey. I would love to be a support for you.

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  3. This is a big issue for me. My Mother bought food for herself and often didn’t feed me. When I was so hungry I would eat a little of her food, but the next day she punished me for ‘eating all of the food’. I still get up in the middle of the night to eat. I do it in my sleep. We have to keep high fiber foods and fruit around so that when I sleep eat the food is healthy. When I was a kid a meal often consisted of a sugar sandwich. Sad to remember these things.

    BTW: I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award.

    If you are an award free blog please view the nomination
    as an expression of appreciation for your blog.

    For details please click the following link: http://wp.me/p47Ymh-2iK

    Rob Goldstein

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    • Thank you so much for the award. I accept it gratefully and with thanks to you for being so thoughtful. πŸ™‚

      I am sorry that this is an issue for you too. Food is a real loaded topic amongst many of us isn’t it?
      I can eat nothing all day then go get an apple and hide that I am eating an apple. I have no reason to hide it. I do stuff like that all the time.
      Memories can be hard at times but hopefully it helps to know you are not alone and there are other who care about you going through this too.

      All the best to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for accepting the award. I always amazes me when I connect with other people who share this problem.

        I often go hungry because I don’t recognize that I am hungry…then I start to feel faint and realize I need to eat.

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      • I do that too. I do not recognize hunger yet feel full too quickly. I guess we had to learn how to ignore those signals to survive. Sad.
        Thank you for opening up to me. ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Getting better often requites grieving. When I read your post it confirmed my worst fear which is that everything I remember is true. Of all of the healing aspects in my life, the most healing is reading other people’s stories and realizing that the misery I went through was not isolated and not imagined. Thank you.

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      • I agree with you Robert. I always felt so alone. I really felt that no one coudl ever understand and I often felt completely crazy. There were tines when I’d been told so often that things were not as I recalled them to be that I started to believe them and assumed that my memory was defective. It wasn’t. I have proof now and it is undeniable… even though those involved still deny everything. You seem like a very genuine and intelligent person. I am sure that you are more than capable of knowing the truth and strong enough to face it. I am glad that I know you.
        Thank you for your kind words.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think that at times I want to believe that I made it all up…and acceptance isn’t static. Sometimes we have it and sometimes we lose it.

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      • I understand that. I want to believe I made it up too. I hate it when reality shows me otherwise. 😦

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  4. I have had eating issues and at times I still struggle with them, but for the most part I made changes when I realized I was starving myself out of defiance. It became the only thing I had control over. For me it didn’t have anything to do with weight issues, I wasn’t terribly concerned about that. I was concerned about doing something, anything that was a choice. Not eating, or spitting my food because of the way it feels in my mouth soon became something I wasn’t in control over anymore.
    Now, anytime I forget to eat, or simply don’t have the chance, I can easily get back to a place where I feel like I have to force myself and sometimes just can’t.
    Even now, I don’t like chewing and will do that as little as possible. Often I don’t feel the hunger at all and the thought of eating nauseates me. A friend gave me the idea of sautΓ©ing onions. She said that even if I didn’t like onions, the smell of them would instigate the hunger feeling. I have yet to try that, although maybe it might be useful.
    Thank you.

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    • It is great that you have found so many useful ideas to help yourself. I was encouraged to write a list of foods that I felt were easily tolerated and start there. Chewing is an issue for me too so “smooth foods” seem easiest to eat. Milk, yoghurt, applesauce etc. I will need to try the onion thing. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Exactly, chocolate pudding! Although not as healthy as your choices, but you know, I like chocolate! ( I love apple sauce too…)

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  6. Hi There,

    I have just found your blog – I am about to embark on treatment for ptsd , I had cervical spinal surgery 18 months ago and basically my body is in a state of shock since. I’m am in an abusive relationship I’m am working to leave safely with my two boys. I have probably had traumatic events for circa 10 -15 yrs and the process of a very evasive surgery has brought every thing to a head – like a car crash in my brain.
    I’m am only at early stages of recovery but am so grateful for all these amazing sites I am finding – I am not alone!

    I completely completely share your experience with food. I tried every fad diet in my twenties and work out hard to be healthy and ” not fat” as told by a parent from a young age.

    I eat healthily but lately as in past 12 months I’ve noticed I can go 12 hours without any food, my calorie in take is probably 800 max calories a day and I’m the heaviest I have ever been. I look very well fed to a stranger lol.

    I’m realising with ptsd your body shuts down so over time your organs, metabolism – its just not work properly.

    Thank you for highlighting I completely believe there is a correlation with neurological stress trauma and food.
    Or maybe it’s not the food , it’s more how we have taught our bodies how to appreciate nutrition – for me at 38 yrs zero appreciation.

    Thanks for comment

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