I remember the day my dietitian told me I had to start taking risks with my food choices like it was yesterday. I was in hospital (inpatient) for about 2 or 3 weeks at this point. I remember meeting with her and saying boldly and proudly (despite my fears) that I was going to challenge 2 items on my menu this coming week! She looked at me and instead of saying “Good job” or “I’m proud of you” she said “I don’t want you to challenge two items this week, I want you to challenge 2 items a day”. A DAY?! Are you kidding me? My heart stopped. I panicked. There was NO WAY I would be able to eat two new/challenging foods everyday. I was pretty proud of myself for suggesting, on my own I might add, that I would order 2 challenging items this week. I cried. I begged her to reconsider; to see how hard I was working already. I thought I had done a pretty good job on increasing variety thus far, how could she not see it. I felt defeated. And I really felt like no one was taking me seriously. That I was somehow making this eating disorder up. As if it was easy to just eat two challenging items each day.
This was over a year ago now, about 14 months.
I can now see that I was working hard AND I needed to work harder.
That I had increased food variety AND I could increase my variety even more.
But at the time it was pretty crummy feeling.
I wanted to sit there, refuse to listen to her, and not take the risk?
But surprisingly, I actually (reluctantly at first) agreed to challenge two food items a day. I decided to listen to my treatment team and try it out.
To my surprise, taking the risk was freeing. It was rewarding. Each day became easier and easier to challenge different things. I really thought my rigidity was keeping me safe. But really, taking risks brought freedom. I guess it makes a lot of sense now – but my mind was blown at the time. There was one particular item I was (and if I’m honest still am at times) terrified of. So I challenged it. I tried it, had an adverse reaction, couldn’t finish it, and had to replace with liquid shit, aka Boost. But you know what. I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel defeated for not being able to finish. I didn’t feel like a pathetic human for needing Boost, again. I was proud of myself for not only ordering it, but for trying it. AND I even tried it again the very next day, and drum roll please, was able to finish it 100%. The more foods I took risks with, the more foods I wanted to challenge. I ended up voluntarily challenging as many items as possible a day. I even let my dietitian choose my entire menu for an entire day (twice) where I would have all my meals and snacks blindly – I had no idea what she ordered. Talk about challenging, my control and rigidity around food. The risks were hard; really hard but honestly so worth it. The freedom I have around food today was worth the difficulty I had then. I also learned that the freedom doesn’t come from the result of the risk – it comes simply from taking the risk itself. Not every risk was “successful” in the sense that I was able to do it, but every risk I took was successful because I took a risk.
Around the same time during my inpatient stay, one of my therapists suggested that I could try taking risks with my body too. I was resistant to this at first too, but I learned so much from taking risks with food I just had to satisfy my curiosity and take this challenge on
soooooo…I started with not huddling my body up during one on one or group sessions. To uncross my legs. To sit in a chair when talking to my team instead of my hospital bed (again with my legs up). This was all proving successful and freeing. Body risks were worth it. I honestly felt more confident. It was then suggested I take a risk with my body and wear shorts. NO FUCKING WAY. There is no way I would ever, ever, ever, wear shorts. For some reason I was okay with a summer dress, and with capris pants. I was even okay with (depending on the context/people) in a well covered, modest bathing suit (well not really, but for some reason I’d be more likely to get in a bathing suit than i would be to wear a pair of shorts). But shorts were a no-go. Not for me. Not for walking around in public with. I didn’t take their suggestion and take a body risk by wearing shorts.
That was a year ago.
Guess what I wore today?