Thursday 18th of January I stopped counting calories.
I have been counting calories for many, many years. I made made aware of them in elementary school, thanks to a couple of unkind remarks from sources that would probably surprise you. I started really thinking about them when I was middle school, although I went on my first diet before then. As long as I lived with my parents I could really weigh and measure my food – so I threw out my packed lunches instead and pretended not to have an appetite.
After I moved out I gained weight, because now I could eat what I wanted and in the amounts I wanted. Also, cooking in the kitchen I shared with two others was inconvenient at best and downright gross at the worst.
Long story somewhat less lengthy: I started weighing my food ten years ago or something like that, and have been at it pretty much since then with a couple of breaks when I didn’t have access to a scale or couldn’t measure because it would cause suspicion. It became an ingrained part of my routine.
November last year, my grandmother died suddenly – a massive brain haemorrhage left her in a coma in the morning and by evening she was gone. She lived in The Netherlands, so that’s where the ceremony would take place. I flew down, and instead of going back home I went straight to Storm’s place after.
That was the start of seven weeks without measuring my food. I followed his rhythm and he encouraged me, simply by doing it himself, to eat healthily. I didn’t think about it; I would go back to counting and measuring and restricting when I came back home. And so I did.
Thursday 18th of January, I had an appointment with my therapist, and I told her how things had gone. And as I talked, I realised that going back to counting was a setback. We talked about how it felt – I have gained weight over the past couple of weeks, which bothers me so much – and slowly it crept up on me: I had already done it. I had already proven to myself that I could live without measuring. I could nourish my body through common sense and listening to it. I was sabotaging my own recovery if I started measuring now. Of course I had gained weight – I hadn’t been working out like i used to and it had been Christmas, with all the goodies that entailed.
And so what? My weight does not equate my worth.
So I took out my phone and I deleted MyFitnessPal, the app I’ve been using for years. It felt like I ripped out part of myself. I shook, and I cried, and I laughed. We agreed that I would only do this until our next appointment (Tuesday 30th of January). We talked about coping mechanisms, and Storm is tasked to ask me daily how it has gone. The cats have been cuddled even more than they were. I have increased my tea intake by about 50%. My food scale is hidden in a drawer and it’s a bit of a bother to take it out. I have also deleted all the MyFitnessPal-accounts that I had, because why of course I had several. Every time I felt like I was dying a little.
What I’m saying is that this is god damned hard. When I go to make myself something to eat, I automatically reach for my scale. When I need a snack, my first thought is to get something within my calorie budget. My urge to self-harm has gone through the roof.
When it gets almost impossible to resist, I force myself to think about how I was measuring how much rocket salad I put in my wrap. It’s a funny image, to me – one that highlights just how much bulimia/binge eating disorder has influenced my life. Funny, but dark and painful. But it helps. It like a boggart – ridicule whatever you’re afraid of and it’ll get less dangerous.