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. 😉
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? 😉
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.