First, it helped to realize that I had been sold an absolute lie about what was an adequate food intake. 1,300 calories is not enough food for a small child. It’s not enough for someone in a coma. It’s sure not enough for a sedentary adult, and it’s laughable for an active adult. Add a thousand calories and you’re still too low for the vast majority of people. Double or triple it and you’re still too low for someone recovering from an eating disorder and experiencing primal hunger. So that helped, realizing that my calorie “goal” was a dangerously disordered bunch of crap and not what real people actually eat.
As far as the mechanics of actually stopping the math, I was saying in my own head “No!” or “Stop!” a million times a day. Every time I started to calculate or think about numbers, I would stop myself and focus on something else, anything else. Over and over again. I stopped looking at nutrition labels altogether, not when I was shopping, not when I was about to eat, not at all. Of course, I’d memorized the nutrition breakdown of absolutely everything I was eating, so I incorporated more foods I was unfamiliar with or unable to calculate, like complex recipes, restaurant food, and meals others had prepared. The more I shut down the mental tallying, the more my brain got the message it wasn’t important. Eventually, it faded from disuse like high school French. Thoughts you use and repeat every day stay strong. What you neglect weakens and goes away.
I love Tabitha Farraar’s advice to do the opposite of what your eating disorder voice is telling you. The more you do that, the faster you recover. If it says to choose the lower calorie option, choose the more delicious and energy dense one every time.
As far as the fear of weight gain, not weighing myself helped tremendously. Instead, I focus on how I want to feel and how I want to treat myself. My body image is the worst when I’ve been treating myself horribly, regardless of what I weigh. I had to reframe my fearful, disordered thoughts on food and weight. I want to be strong, active, healthy, and happy. I want a fast metabolism. I want peace around food and confidence in my own choices. Strict dieting and semi-starvation undermines everything I want.