Handing Over Control – Immy Chooses

As you might have noticed by now if you’re coming from my Instagram, I am committing myself to doing (at least) one thing that absolutely terrifies my eating disorder, every single day.

And this next one was a pretty big deal for me.

So why did I do this challenge?

Short answer: to eliminate the choice of what I’m eating (feel free to skip to the next heading, I start to ramble here).

Long answer: read on.

To come up with these foods and challenges, I had to be really honest with myself and recognise the stuff I’ve been avoiding.

I’ve basically just written a big long list of stuff I would feel uncomfortable with. Well, my head would feel uncomfortable with.

Only once I’ve tackled and repeated the hell out of all these things, will I know that I am stronger than my eating disorder.

So I wrote this long list, and that was great! I’ve been picking a few things each day and it has been really helpful.

But I wanted to challenge the choice.

Having that list will always allow a little bit of wriggle-room that I’m going to have to consciously avoid.

For example, if I hadn’t acknowledged this, I’d probably put off the hardest stuff for as long as possible, or maybe even avoid them all-together, because who would even realise if I never had a 5 Guys?

(Hint: It’s me. Future me would be annoyed at past-recovery me for never challenging a 5 Guys when one day a friend suggests it and I have a panic attack in the middle of the street.)

Choice is anorexia’s best friend. Little things, that can be manipulated and changed to make a meal “safer”. Tiny swaps that might not even be noticeable to those around, but swaps that nevertheless, are influenced by the eating disorder.

Anorexia loves choices. By eliminating all decisions, I knew there’d be no chance of compensation or sneaky swaps.

I think that’s often why hospital treatment is so hard and patients discharge themselves (me very much included in this bracket), because there is absolutely no choice in what you eat (and it also doesn’t help that frankly, that stuff is gross).

So today, I’m giving up all control and eliminating any possibility of cheeky anorexia-driven choices and allowing Immy (my bestie and coincidentally, sister) to choose 3 meals and 3 snacks for a day.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A FDOE!

Obviously, if I still feel hungry, I won’t restrict myself in ANY way. I’ll either have some more of what she has chosen in advance, or I’ll message her and ask for some back-up snacks. To reiterate: THIS WAS NOT A FULL DAY OF EATING! For me personally, if I stuck to 3 meals and 3 snacks every day throughout my recovery I would be restricting.

The Brief

I asked Immy to choose foods that she knows will challenge me; foods that I would usually avoid; foods that we had as children; foods that I haven’t tried. I stressed the fact that she shouldn’t worry about how “scary” a food is to me, and wanted her to choose foods I (not my anorexia) would enjoy.

Below I’ve written what she chose, her reasonings for each one, my initial thoughts (these are mostly automatic ED rambles with a few healthy-Leith thoughts tied to the end) and how I felt during and after eating each thing. I actually have no idea if anyone will even be remotely interested in reading this, but it was a helpful and therapeutic exercise for me (plus I got to eat loads of delicious food).

So here we go!

Breakfast:

“A smoothie made with bananas, vanilla protein powder, dates, cacao powder, coffee and milk, topped with Deliciously Ella Granola, peanut butter and fruit”

Reasonings from Immy:

⁃ I know you will love this breakfast.

⁃ I know you struggles with using “extras” like protein powder, cacao powder and dates. But they’re normal and make smoothies way more yummy!

⁃ Deliciously Ella granola is amazing and I know granola can be scary for you.

⁃ Peanut butter is a must in every breakfast.

My initial thoughts:

⁃ This sounds SO YUMMY!

⁃ It’s a lot denser than I would usually feel comfortable putting in a smoothie bowl, which I had never consciously realised before. For example, I wouldn’t actively restrict by not putting in both cacao powder and dates but I would probably sub-consciously think that either or was enough (I’ve now realised that’s bullshit).

⁃ Like Immy said, I find adding toppings like granola scary sometimes (other times I don’t think twice – WTF brain?) so this will be good to challenge.

⁃ Extra peanut butter… eek… but yum… and the fact I said eek as a first thought to peanut butter, and the fact my initial thought was it as an “extra” means I should DEFINITELY start topping all my smoothie bowls with peanut butter.

⁃ I know that I will Hundy P LOVE this brekkie. Thanks Immy 💞

My thoughts during and after eating it:

⁃ Ok, making that freaked me out. There did seem like a lot of stuff going in…

⁃ Initially I was annoyed as I would have probably made it thicker and with less liquid, as that’s how I prefer it but I need to challenge having stuff that isn’t “perfect”.

⁃ I deliberately made an effort to add a generous amount of peanut butter (opposite actions).

⁃ It tasted AMAZING! Chocolately, sweet, smooth.

⁃ The granola was so good and cinnamon-y (not a flavour I would usually go for).

(Immy sent me these amazing cutters so get ready for next-level smoothie bowl toppings 😎)

Morning Snack

“A Greggs sausage roll”

Reasonings from Immy:

⁃ It’s an abomination that you’ve never been to Greggs.

⁃ I love a Greggs sausage roll haha.

My initial thoughts:

⁃ Pastry is scary (even writing that sounds stupid, but I’m being honest with myself and yep, pastry scares me).

⁃ I don’t know if I will like it (although I usually do like sausage rolls and I trust Immy, who loves them).

⁃ Will it be hot or cold? I feel like I would prefer it hot.

⁃ Am I going to eat it outside or take it home?

⁃ I have absolutely no idea how big it will be.

⁃ I don’t know if it will fill me up.

My thoughts during and after eating it:

⁃ It was so delicious. Really didn’t expect to like it that much!

⁃ Will definitely have again.

Gregg, wherever you are, I salute you.

Lunch

“A crepe with ham, cheese and a fried egg. Then another plain crepe! Then a Crunchie McFlurry!”

Reasonings from Immy:

⁃ We used to have these all the time when we were younger!

⁃ I know you’d never choose a fried egg.

⁃ You try and avoid cheese.

⁃ You haven’t had crepes in years!

⁃ They’re yummy!

⁃ You always have to finish with an extra crepe 🙂

⁃ Can’t remember the last time you had a McFlurry and that makes me sad… We used to get them after school and eat the toppings separately haha!

⁃ I want you to remember how good and tasty these foods are.

My initial thoughts:

⁃ I had literally forgotten these crepes existed!

⁃ I definitely used to really enjoy all these foods and they are such childhood favourites.

⁃ Haven’t had a fried egg or a crepe in way too long… Both are very scary…

⁃ McFlurry sounds amazing and I have been putting off challenging one so this is perfect!

⁃ Wouldn’t have chosen Crunchie as don’t think it would be my favourite but food doesn’t have to be perfect!

My thoughts during and after eating it:

⁃ Head was freaking out about the oil when frying the egg but I know that it’s a normal thing people do and something I want to challenge more.

⁃ It was so. Bloomin’. Tasty.

⁃ Decided to add peanut butter and fruit to the other one because I knew I wouldn’t really want a plain one.

⁃ Couldn’t get a Crunchie McFlurry so ordered a Maltesers one instead – it was SO GOOD.

⁃ McFlurry was just as good as I had remembered although definitely smaller 🤣

I’ll admit that a sweet crepe with egg, cheese, onion and ham sounds weird but don’t knock it ‘till you try it 😉
When TF did these get so tiny…?

Afternoon Snack:

“A Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Salted Caramel cookie”

Reasonings from Immy:

⁃ These are the best cookies ever.

⁃ I know how much you like them.

My initial thoughts:

⁃ I know the calories off the top of my head and the number was the first thing that came to mind when hearing the choice which makes me sad.

⁃ These are like the OG food I would fantasise about when I was really ill.

⁃ I’m excited to try it.

⁃ Might not reach my really high expectations of it so that scares me a bit.

⁃ Can almost guarantee it will be yummy.

My thoughts during and after eating it:

⁃ I hate anorexia so much for making me restrict these.

⁃ Just as good as I had hoped.

⁃ Gooey and delish.

Name something more beautiful… 😍

Dinner:

“Mum’s classic meatball penne pasta bake, served with tear-and-share garlic bread”

Reasonings from Immy:

⁃ This is my favourite meal that Mum makes.

⁃ I know it’s scary for you but also know we used to both enjoy it when we were younger; it was an after-school classic.

⁃ This particular garlic bread is insane and you’ve never tried it!

My initial thoughts:

⁃ This is literally the scariest possible meal.

⁃ Pasta. Beef. Cheese. Oil. Bread. Butter.

⁃ Penne is my least favourite pasta. I would enjoy it more if it was with a different pasta. (Hahahaha @ my brain, nice try)

⁃ It will be yummy.

⁃ It will fill me up.

⁃ I’ll probably be really bloated after.

⁃ I will definitely be nervous thinking about it.

⁃ I know it’s Immy’s favourite and it is nice, so theres nothing rationally to be scared of.

My thoughts during and after eating it:

[It should be noted my head was NOT happy before this, I was pretty cranky before having it. I only considered this as an ED thing when writing this… Sorry Mum]

⁃ Could see the oil and the cheese terrified me.

⁃ Tasted amazing.

⁃ Brought back happy memories.

⁃ Garlic bread was INSANE. (Forgot to take a pic but here’s a link to it because genuinely, you MUST try this. It’s like brioche-y melty goodness)

⁃ Felt guilty afterwards but learning to turn guilt into pride.

⁃ SO happy I did this, as it’s a normal, nourishing dinner.

– An hour has passed and I still can’t get over that garlic bread.

[No pic of dinner I’m afraid, was too busy obsessing / panicking over garlic bread 🤪]

Evening Snack:

“A white chocolate Magnum”

Reasonings from Immy:

⁃ For some reason I know you avoid white chocolate…

⁃ Magnums are so delicious

⁃ I know you find ice-cream challenging

⁃ You will love it

My initial thoughts:

⁃ Last time I had a Magnum was in hospital

⁃ I know the calories off the top of my head

⁃ Ice cream twice in the same day when I haven’t had it in years…

⁃ I have no idea why white chocolate is a fear but all other chocolate isn’t…

⁃ I’ve only had white chocolate once in my life!

⁃ I do love Magnums

My thoughts during and after eating it:

⁃ No idea why I was scared of white choccy; it’s yummy. Although I probably would prefer milk or dark. But it’s okay.

⁃ Magnums are elite.

⁃ Need more ice cream in my life.

Magnums are bladdy delicious, no cap.

Ok, ok. I know this is a heck of a long post. But I hope it shows you that even if you’re scared, even if you know the calories off the top of your head, even if you don’t think you can do it – YOU CAN. If you commit yourself, tell yourself you will do it, no matter how you feel, you will do it. And if you’ve done it once, you can do it again. And again. And again. Then one day you won’t even think twice about it.

It’s ok to be scared, to have the negative thoughts, to worry. You have to just recognise that it’s not actually YOU that’s scared. It’s your eating disorder. And it’s not actually scared of the food. It’s scared of the feeling that you have about the food. Feelings always fade. The discomfort you feel in the moment will pass but your actions will become habits and those habits will change your life.

Lastly, trust your loved ones. They eat and enjoy foods they love and nothing bad happens to them. They are free! And chances are, they’ll want to help you be free in any way they can. Reach out to them (or me!).

So why don’t you try and give up control for a while? Let someone you love choose foods they love, foods they know you (not your anorexia) will love or have loved in the past. You might just enjoy the freedom 🌟

Lots of love, L x

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