I still freeze in supermarkets and looking at menus…
It’s way way way better than in the depths of my ED.
But I try to go in to supermarkets with a list now to avoid the crazy freezing!
Probably should add a trigger warning here, as I’m mentioning behaviours. If you are easily triggered perhaps skip. I will never talk about my weight, BMI on this site because I know 1 it’s triggering and 2 I don’t think you need to know.
What do I mean by supermarket freezing or blindness?
At my sickest I could spend hours walking from one supermarket to the next and come home with NOTHING!
I would spend ages staring at the foods I couldn’t have. Anguishing over the nutrient content of every option, arguing in my head about which choice was acceptable for that day.
If I had decided to go and buy a food item, I.e yoghurt, I would spend a painful amount of time debating whether it was an acceptable choice or whether I infact even needed it. Often I would talk myself out of it entirely and leave empty handed or commonly with an apple. This occurred almost daily wasting hours of my day.
I experienced this with menus too. (When I could actually eat with people, which was rare) I would become overwhelmed easily by choices. I would be conflicted in my brain. I would see something “healthy me” would want. But seconds later HH would jump in, but you don’t need that, you should have the salad bla bla bla. This happened countless times.
I enlisted my husband to help me once I started recovery, to eat out socially, to either pick something for me and sit with me while I freaked out, or if it was obvious I had chosen a sub optimal option to encourage me to push myself in a supportive manner. As I grew more confident pushing boundaries breaking rules this has gotten easier.
I had to break the rule of eating in isolation too. This is very hard in recovery because eating in front of people wrongly feels shameful for a lot of us. It feels like a loss of control, we fear judgement. I have had to work very hard on this. I can eat with my colleagues at work now, with friends, family and not feel judged. The judgement is mine alone. It’s taken me ages to get here. It’s freeing being able to enjoy company with people and not feel disgust. If I can do it anyone can. This was one of my biggest issues. For me it was in a variety of ways, eating out with my husband, meeting with close friends who knew my problem and using colleagues who didn’t know as role models for normal eating.
But there are still times I find myself overwhelmed. And I’ve found using coping skills, tools I’ve learnt in recovery to manage. An example is if I can feel the “HH” thoughts building or anxiety, I will take some deep breathes, slowly and counting in and out. To get myself from my sympathetic nervous system (aka fight or flight mode) back into the parasympathetic system. You can think far more rationally and calmly here. It works for me.
I also like to do the opposite of what HH is telling me to do. I know in the short this is going to make me uncomfortable, anxious, upset but I can get through that by knowing discomfort leads to long term change and re-wiring.
There are some days I know, going to the supermarket without a list is not a good idea, this includes when I’m hungry, tired or stressed. I try never to let myself get hungry these days but it’s something I’ve noticed makes my “supermarket blindness” worse.
Whilst taking about hunger, I’m still working on fixing my hunger cues. Mine are gradually returning. But it has taken time and I eat when I’m not hungry if my hunger doesn’t show up. This is still relatively frequent. I followed a meal plan to establish regular eating. I don’t follow a plan now because I can eat “normally” and regularly. This didn’t happen overnight and I hated the plan. But I needed it.
I will do another post about the pattern of hunger. I know it’s a common anxiety and theme in recovery and I’ve noticed a lot of different things with it too. If I think about food, I eat. Until a few months ago for me this was constantly, but now my obsessive thoughts have diminished.
Being trapped inside your head is no fun.