Grocery shopping now sends me into a tailspin of anxiety. My choices feel unlimited once more, which is kind of terrifying after a month of eliminating lots of the foods I used to eat. Although I can now technically eat whatever I want, I don’t want to do that. Instead, I find myself still gravitating toward many of the foods I ate during my Whole30 (sweet potatoes, coconut oil, more fruit, kale) and not wanting some of the things I ate pre-Whole30 (granola bars, shredded cheese, fruit snacks, sparkling water containing artificial sweeteners, etc.).
Any kind of restrictive manner of eating is dangerous for someone recovering from an eating disorder. Someone like me. Last week, I did overindulge a bit: chocolate chip cookies and tortilla chips were the primary culprit. I definitely attribute at least some of the cause to being sick, but I know that part of it was due to that feeling of deprivation that is particularly problematic if you suffer from binge eating disorder like I do.
However…those urges have not come back at all. I’m a lot more focused on how food makes me feel physically instead of how it makes me feel emotionally. This focus is something I was never able to achieve through other diets I’ve tried: veganism, vegetarianism, the Atkins diet, and flat-out caloric restriction.
I suppose this change in mindset is due to the drastic nature of the Whole30 challenge. I cut out so many things from my diet, and now as I begin to reintroduce some of them, I am made acutely aware of how downright awful some foods make me feel. After a month of feeling on top of the world physically (and pretty damn good mentally, too), the awful indigestion I experience after eating dairy and fried foods doesn’t seem worth it. I want to continue eating in a way that makes me feel great, and when I want to eat something that won’t make me feel so great, I want to make a very informed and intentional decision to do so (That last statement is actually one of the goals the founders of Whole30 have for participants!)
I’m proud that through a lot of hard work, reflection, and change, I’ve moved one step closer to a balanced, healthy, and peaceful relationship with food. I never thought completing a month-long challenge that entailed eliminating many different foods from my diet would help my eating disorder in such a meaningful way– in fact, at times, I thought it would backfire and destroy some of the progress I’ve made this year. I’m so glad I proved myself wrong.