Letting Yourself Eat: Thanksgiving Reflections

I loved decorating (and eating!) cookies with some fam this Thanksgiving week! Xoxo to Kaylee for her amazing baking skills. My grinch is a little shaky, and I wish I had a picture of Kaylee's that she decorated. AMAZING.

I'm excited to document everything from our Thanksgiving in Mattawa. It was so great to be with Derek's family (and now my family!) and hang out, and it was super relaxing. More on that later, though.

Today I wanted to journal about how this holiday looked different for me. I still consider myself "in recovery" from my disordered eating patterns, but I have made huge leaps and bounds in these past few months with my healing. Intuitive eating has changed the game, and while it's still a process and there are still panicky moments for me around food, I am slowly learning what it looks like to be kind to my body and to respect my hunger.

For example, this Thanksgiving I practiced getting rid of some of my food rules. On one of the nights, my brother-in-law's girlfriend made the most amazing homemade tortillas for the (also amazing) tacos she brought over. Old Brooke would have taken one look at that stack of tortillas and convinced myself that the carbs were evil and unnecessary and would derail me from all my goals. And I'll admit, the thought to just make a taco salad "because of the carbs in the tortilla" crossed my mind. But the thing is, I really wanted to try one. So I did. And it was amazing. (Duh!)

Intuitive eating has really made me realize that there is no such thing as good or bad foods. Sure, there are foods that are more nutrient-dense, and if I'm hungry, getting full on cookies will take a lot longer than it will if I eat something more nutrient-dense. But that doesn't mean I can't have the cookie (or the tortilla, or the bread stick, or the whatever) if that's what my body is craving. I have learned that if I deprive myself, I'm miserable. Holidays are about enjoying food and family, and if you're obsessive and controlling with your food instead of enjoying it, you won't enjoy your family. It becomes a selfish practice that feels out of our control. At least, this has been my experience.

The funny thing was, I didn't feel the need to eat 17 tacos after having the 1 (old Brooke would have been fearful that if I start eating something or if I have one, I'll never be able to stop). But that simply doesn't happen. When I restrict and limit, I overeat. When I just listen to my body and eat what sounds good, I eat enough to make me satisfied. For this meal, it was two tacos and some pico and meat on the side. And I was good.

It's helpful for me to write about experiences like this so my future self can remember that listening to my body usually results in eating a normal amount (normal for me) instead of restricting, restricting, restricting, and then feeling gross because I overate on foods that I didn't really want (overeating because nothing was satisfying so I kept searching for more).

Does that mean I always have to have a tortilla or always have to have a cookie or always have to have a bread stick, just to prove to myself that I'm allowed to eat carbs? No, because that would just be another food rule to add to the endless pile that already exists in diet culture. But if I want some, I"ll have some. And usually after I have some, I'm satisfied and feel good. No need to keep searching through the pantry for another snack. I already ate (and had enough of)  what I wanted.

When I was in the thick of my disordered eating habits, I remember feeling proud of myself for feeling hungry. If I felt hungry, that meant I wasn't eating too much, and that I meant I was still in control. The hungrier and hollower I felt, the stronger I thought I was. Ever heard about having "will-power" around food, like it's some kind of sin to participate in eating? I was the queen of will-power. Looking back, I can see how destructive that behavior was. And while I'm still training my brain to think new thoughts, I'm starting to remember that when my body tells me it's hungry, it's a cue that I need to take action. Not sit around in it and analyze it, but take action. There are many purposes of eating, but one of them is to make sure I am full.

I realize these thoughts patterns that disordered eating has brought on are not something that everyone experiences. Food isn't and never has been a big deal for a lot of people, and I love that! I overheard my brother-in-law say this week (when people were talking about diets) something along the lines of "you know what diet I do? The whatever I want diet." I loved that. And I love that there are people this comes so naturally to! For me, it wasn't this way, and it's still a big effort. But I'm starting to make strides, and I'm grateful for people like my brother-in-law who are such good examples of mindful eating and joyful exercise.

Anyways, just some thoughts around Thanksgiving time.

Currently reading: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and this amazing blog
Currently craving: Thai Peanut Sauce!
Excited for: Dinner with Derek + my Grandma