I’ve been thinking about the difference between going all in with food to fully recover and just making small changes over time. I’ve always been in the make small changes camp but I’ve been working on this for almost 8 years and don’t feel like I’m much farther along than before. Sometime it really feels impossible to recover if I don’t just eat everything I want and gain a bunch of weight. but the fear of weight gain keeps me from doing this, even though I realize I’m keeping myself in this overly food focused world indefinitely. Any thoughts or experiences on this?
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Yeah, I think if you are at an artificially low weight that you can only sustain through restriction, your mind will remain focused on food. I know that has been the case with me. Once you are satisfied with your meals, both based on amount and the things you eat, your mind can let go and it's a lot easier. For me going through that process definitely involved trial and error. The hardest part was getting used to being overfull occasionally. But that's just normal eating to occasionally eat a lot and other times not as much.
Thank you both, those comments are really helpful. I am at a pretty low weight right now and have been for a while. In general I try to eat to feel good but there’s always this low level restriction and food rules. I tend to overeat vegetables and am Usually mentally hungry or thinking about food. I like the idea of reframing thoughts to think about eating to nourish and feel good.
Learning to trust your body and your food choices without obsession is not a particular weight or food intake. So, vowing to eat more and gain weight doesn’t necessarily fix anything. Just like micromanaging your intake and expenditure while making tiny incremental changes doesn’t necessarily fix anything. Without the mindset shift, it’s the same fear and control, or guilt and shame, no matter what you weigh or how you manipulate food. Now, if you’re chronically underfed, the food does have to be addressed. Hungry minds are often a hornet’s nest of anxiety and obsession. Eating enough is crucial to being able to relax and experience the whole situation differently. The goal isn’t to eat everything you want and gain a bunch of weight though. That’s a dieter, cheat-day mentality. The real objective is to take consistently great care of yourself by eating in a nourishing and sustainable way. It’s learning to be flexible and trust yourself. This takes practice. So, there is a huge element of being willing to try stuff, make mistakes, learn, and try again. It’s discovering what you like and don’t like. Then, you can really feel confident and free with your choices rather than either restrained or off the rails.
My suggestion would be to ponder the possibility that you could eat anything you want and not necessarily gain weight. Or maybe you'd gain weight but you'd eventually settle into a weight that felt comfortable to you. For myself, I know that restriction can only last so long. Once I've let go of the restriction the pendulum did swing but I eventually found a happy place. I eat whatever I want but I also know that eating too much, too often or too much of the wrong things (which can mean different things to different people) doesn't feel good in the long run.