7.31.2013

free to eat

Dear readers,
My life in regards to my relationship with food has changed drastically in just one week. As a "clean eater" for just over a year, I finally ate a pop tart. I ate an ice cream sandwich. I ate cream cheese. I ate cinnamon bread. I ate all of the things that I had turned away for fear it was poison and automatic fat on my body. I ate it all, but lacked something. Guilt.

I no longer saw the food as poisonous, devilish fat that would ruin my figure and make me gain ten pounds in a matter of minutes. I didn't cry afterwards. I didn't call up Boyfriend in a grumpy mood because I felt so defeated. I didn't beat myself up for hours. I didn't say, "Why did you do that, you failure?"

You see, that's how I often felt about food that was considered "dirty." When I would have treat meals once a week on my "clean eating" diet, I would shame myself. I remember a low point of when I ate "too much" peanut butter (in reality, probably a half a cup) and I was devastated. Literally. It was to the point of standing naked in front of the mirror and holding my peanut butter belly, saying, "Why did you eat that? You are so stupid. Now look at you." I remember taking out my bad mood on Boyfriend over the phone, and he was in shock that it was over peanut butter.

Looking back on it now, it makes me so sad that I had reached that point. I had let a few bites of peanut butter (PEANUT BUTTER. LIKE, REALLY?!) destroy my happiness. I had let food become associated with guilt. I had let every health food junkie's reasonings alter my perception of food in an unhealthy way. I had let it go too far.

At first, clean eating was something exciting and new. I didn't need to count calories as I had a few years ago, which led to a forty pound weight loss (read about that here and here). I just cut out foods and read nutrition labels. I was all about it, and always reading up on the latest super food or health foodie blogs. I even came out with a "clean eating" cookbook, which I still stand by! There are great-tasting healthy meals out there, and I still cook them from my book.

Before I knew it, I had cut out a good amount of food. Like a good amount. I cut it out because it was deemed as poisonous and would kill me. It seemed as though everything was off limits. It basically looked like crack cocaine with the way people made it out to be. I had this mentality of when I saw people eating these "bad" foods that they were uneducated. It was a terrible way to think. I struggled with date nights, going out with friends, vacations, going to parties because I couldn't eat the food, and if I did then it was all downhill mentally from there.

Much further into the lifestyle change (like a month or so ago) I began obsessing over weight again. I pulled out my scale and weighed myself a few times a day and hated that the number wouldn't change. I began paying closer attention to calories again, and making sure I wasn't eating over 1200 calories a day. Then I would go do hours of cardio, leaving me with a net calorie amount of around 600 a day. It was wrong, and I knew it. Little did I know how wrong it was, until I came across Layne Norton. He talks a lot about metabolic damage that I see so many women do to themselves by restricting calories to asinine amounts and spending hours on the elliptical. Watch his video on metabolic damage here.

It wasn't until recently a follower on my Instagram mentioned Orthorexia. I had never heard of it before, but after reading up on it, I realized I had been suffering from it for a long time. It is described as this,

"Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.”  Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity.  They become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with “slip-ups.”  An iron-clad will is needed to maintain this rigid eating style.  Every day is a chance to eat right, be “good,” rise above others in dietary prowess, and self-punish if temptation wins (usually through stricter eating, fasts and exercise).  Self-esteem becomes wrapped up in the purity of orthorexics’ diet and they sometimes feel superior to others, especially in regard to food intake.

Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.  Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous (NEDA)."

Well, my health did suffer. As much as I promoted clean eating, I was sick all the time. I had digestive issues where I was unable to go poop for three to four days. I was bloated a lot of the time. I was often tired and grumpy. My mental health suffered too. Clearly, as I mentioned above. Why was I promoting something that could possibly be ruining my insides and my outlook on life? I didn't understand that my eating habits could play such a huge part on my life, and take a toll the way they did. After learning more about Orthorexia, I realized that eating habits could be damaging, and that I had a problem.

This is when I found IIFYM. I kept seeing the hashtag everywhere on Instagram. These people were in amazing shape with muscles popping, and they were eating Pop Tarts and Skinny Cow ice cream. WTF? I had to know more. I researched and researched and researched some more. First of all, macros are protein, carbs, and fat. IIFYM (if it fits your macros) is the flexible diet plan of eating foods that meet your macros in grams. Everyone has different macros for their goals and body types. Food isn't really considered "clean" or "dirty," it's just recognized by the body its amounts of protein, carbs, and fat each day. I suggest you read up on it for yourself. I am not an expert. I can't calculate yours for you. I can't explain it as well as experts. So, do your own research. This post isn't about fully educating you on IIFYM. This post is simply meant to give you honesty and the reason I have changed my eating habits. I will, however, post the resources I have found helpful!

IIFYM
Scoobys Workshop
Michael Kory Fitness
Do You Even

With this new eating style, there is so much freedom and balance. I get to eat dessert every night, or have french toast in the morning. It sounds silly that there is freedom in something as tedious-sounding as counting calories and grams, but there truly is. You can fit the foods you want into your every day diet, and you can feel good about your choices, even if it's considered "dirty." I don't have to eat chicken and broccoli and egg whites for every fucking meal (excuse my language), and I'm sooooo okay with that.

I can honestly say that I haven't been this happy in a long time. I haven't had a healthy relationship with food like this in an even longer time. After a week of IIFYM, I am more awake than ever. I am up at 5:45 AM every day with tons of energy, ready to take on the gym and cook breakfast and go to work. I have regular digestion. I am no longer bloated. I started strength training again and have incredible strength and endurance in the weight room. My muscles are popping more than ever. I am eating the appropriate amount of calories for my body, which would have seemed like an insane amount to me before. I can go to dinner and be social. I have hidden the scale away in the depths of a closet. I am elated.

With the change of diet, some people don't understand and they criticize my Pop Tart and my fat-free cheese. They tell me it's terrible for me. They tell me what's in it, as if I don't already know after over a year of reading nutritional labels. They tell me this and that, and it has actually become humorous to me.

People will find something that is bad for you in anything. It's like food has become this terrifying thing that's on the same level as drugs (like I said before, crack cocaine). People scare the shit out of you, which leads you to obsess, which leads to an unhealthy mind and perhaps even an unhealthy body, as it did in my case.

What I have to say to them is this, it is my life. Life is about trial and error. It's about experimenting and finding what works for you. If I want to change my life or my diet or whatever, then I am more than free to do so. Your choices are your choices. Mine are mine. Respect that. I would much rather have a piece of pizza and a healthy mind, then a cup of quinoa and a screwed up mind any day. So, pass me a bowl of cookie dough ice cream (as it perfectly fits in my macros) and a sprinkle of "happy" on top.



20 comments:

  1. Thank you thank you thank you for posting. I am sitting here in tears reading your post because THAT IS ME. I cannot explain how much I relate to your feeling of obsession and entrapment with not wanting to eat any "bad" foods and the very real fear that is associated with it...when in reality, it's merely a bagel or a piece of pizza...not poison..not a recipe to balloon and get fat instantaneously. Your bravery in speaking out really is inspirational now more than ever. Please know that if anything, you have helped me. Thank you Brianna :)

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  2. Thanks for posting this! I admire your honesty. Good luck with your health and fitness journey. I enjoy your posts. They inspire me!

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  3. Thanks for posting this! I admire your honesty. Good luck with your health and fitness journey. I enjoy your posts. They inspire me!

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  4. I follow you on Instagram, Twiter, and your blog. I appreciate your honesty along this journey. I have struggled with a lot of the same issues. The book that really put things into perspective for me was "Naturally Thin," by Bethany Frankel. I highly recommend it.

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  5. I am in love with you <3

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  6. Thank you for being so authentic. You make a huge difference in my life everyday.

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  7. Hi brianna!
    I am suffering from orthorexia too - for a couple of years now. A couple of month ago i searched for professional help. I am feeling a little better now, but it feels like learning a completely new language and it's a very long process. Everything started with the wish of living a healthy life and losing some weight. But in my worst days i didn't want to leave the house, i didn't want to see my friends and i yelled at people i love - sometimes i still do that... I still feel like a pizza is going to ruin my life and everybody who eats it is crazy! It's like there is always a voice in my head telling me i will lose control if i indulge! But i am SURE there is a happy life after orthorexia :) i am wishing you all the best and all the strenght it takes to live a happy life again!
    Love, Lilly

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  8. I am SO happy you have realized something this important and are changing to stay healthy and happy.

    I was getting nervous for a while for you and didn't know how to bring it up, but you always seem to surprise me. I love your dedication to health, but sometimes the online support can make it an obsession.

    Do what makes you happy, and know that your online supporters will NOT leave your side if you have dessert ;)

    Xo Lauren

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  9. You're so wonderful Brianna, I love the way you write! :)

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  10. I love your honesty. it's an attribute that not many people have anymore. here is a link to a blog post that i think you would find really funny and be able to about the tragedy of a healthy eater. its great! Http:/www.nwedible.com/2012/08/tragedy-healthy-eater.html

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  11. thank you for your honesty, strength, and passion. You are inspirational and it takes a lot of courage to change course on something so many people are so serious about and then to fully own up to it. On a personal level I appreciate your story because I've been killing myself but also "cheating" a lot lately and i was confused because I wasn't seeing a huge difference. It was more about making sure I didn't overeat/binge and that i continued my strength training and kept active. You've always been inspiring past and present.
    -andrea

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  12. I agree with all of these comments... Im pretty sure that more or less how I am very horrified of any kind of food thats not on the list of Superfoods or Metabolism booting foods. I was beginning to get pissed as to why I wasnt loosing weight and then binge on ice cream and then get angry at myself. So I cant tell you How happy I am to read this... It was weird for me to buy pop tarts and ice cream at the store but I want to give IIFYM a try.

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  14. Great post! I see this happening so much lately. Everything in moderation is key. Thank you for your transparency!

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  15. I want to commend you on your honesty. I can relate on so many levels. My "clean eating" became so obsessive to the point where going to any social situation became difficult. I went gluten free, then cut out ALL CARBS except vegetables. This means I even gave up oatmeal (my love). Oatmeal guilt has to be the most absurd guilt. I was eating 1100 calories a day of all protein and vegetables, going to the gym every day, and then wondering why I was completely and totally exhausted by 8 pm. I finally saw a therapist who recommended me to a nutritionist, and after lots convincing I finally started eating carbs again. Turns out I now eat carbs at every meal and GUESS WHAT I'm still alive and skinny. It has seriously improved my mood, energy and overall happiness by about x1000.

    Anyways sorry for the long and anonymous reply, I just follow you on instagram and needed to comment on this post. I hope you know you're not alone! We can be healthy and fit while still being HAPPY. :)

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  16. I'm probably echoing most of the other comments on here but again, I appreciate your transparency. I definitely think that moderation and balance is key...not too much of anything (food, exercise, all of the above), and not too little either. I'm glad you were able to recognize when it was staring to become unhealthy.

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  17. This post is just great!! thanks for your honesty and for sharing your story, its so inspirational.
    I also think I went too far with clean eating and exercise... and the worse thing is that I am alwayns binging! what makes me feel terrible and myserable and how you said it not happy, grumpy all the time, even with others. Digestive problems are also in my list.

    Iam going to reserch about IIFYM and keep going to get thout this.

    THANKS AGAIN! THIS CAME IN THE PERFECT TIME, after being diagnosed with anorexia, which I consider it was more orthorexia with vigorexia.

    Sorry for the speech...

    GRACIAS!! :)

    Odessa. (instagram sweet_ode)

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  18. You are such an inspiration! I definitely got out of control with weighing myself and how I looked at food. It's just so HARD though! But once you feel the release, it's amazing! I love it.

    Thanks for all your great posts! :)

    -Erika @ ablondethinks26.blogspot.com

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  19. I love this Bri. Glad you are happy and healthy! This was very inspiring. :)

    xo

    E

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  20. Thank you for writing this. I am curious about your bloating-- it went away within a week? I upped my calories (too much too soon though) and was bloated soooo badly. I am now eating around 1900 calories and maintaining my weight but the bloating still comes when I eat some "unclean" foods that I previously avoided. I do take probiotics and digestive enzymes but still get the bloat

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