11

votes

How to separate an ED and Paleo? What came first..Chicken or the egg?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 01, 2012 at 3:19 PM

This is a bit personal, but I have wanted to reach out for a while now about this topic, and after reading another post on here about Eating disorders, i thought it might be ok.

My question is for those who have experience with an eating disorder..

Quick background : I was the most normal pre-teen, teen, early 20's individual (with regards to food and eating) I grew up as an athlete, was always training and racing, lots of sports, always in terrific shape since i was about 4 yrs old (when i started competitive sport) I never in my life thought about what i ate, never even knew what a calorie was, never ever had a thought about body composition or physical vanity, i just loved sports and ate what my European immigrant father cooked for me, which was quasi-SAD...sort of somewhere between eastern european diet..with North american resources. So have never consumed a "fruit-rollup, or twinkie" but would be allowed things like natural cookies from the Polish store.

Ok...onward...I moved to NYC about 4 yrs ago, for my art, and everything stayed the same for a little while, i ate the best way i knew how, again quasi- SAD...and cross fitted, and ran. through stress and some difficult times i gained 30lbs.

I found Paleo, and through some pretty extreme calories restriction i lost the 30lbs. (it was low fat, mod pro, low carb)...I came out of that experience, with what my doctors have said to be an Eating disorder.

After i lost the weight, it was never good enough, my friends and family became very concerned, and I have been shuffled around Doctor to doctor for the last 8 months.

My question after that long winded background is this : I am 100% committed to getting better, i know its the only way to move forward, but here is where I am confused...

I can't separate for myself and for people around me, where Paleo (health conscious, food concious, making the right choices) begins and where my ED ends. Does that make sense?

Meaning...everytime I am at a restaurant with friends and family..and I say..Could i please have a salad instead of fries, with the dressing on the side, and could you please ask if they could cook the chicken without oil...EVERYONE that loves me stares at me with a clear "you have an eating disorder" look in their eyes..rather than..OH! she is just health conscious!

Has anyone experienced this before? How do i separate them for the future? How do i continue with Paleo and distinguish between the two?

I guess sometimes it isn't just for others, its for me too. Sometimes i listen to when i order at a restaurant, and someone says quickly "Ill have the number 1" DONE! and my order takes...a good....5 mins. I get scared, i start wondering, "Is this just my ED? or is this me being Paleo?

Any advice would be incredible...Sorry for the length, and the potentially over intimate nature of this post...

xo

ps. The other thing that is unfortunate, is that I am a very vocal Paleo-ite and love to discuss the benefits of this philosophy, but unfortunately, I feel as if I have ruined that, because everyone that knows me associates the way i eat"Paleo" as either the source of the problem, or just a vehicle for me to exercise me ED...one day I hope that Paleo can just be my way of eating, and not looked at as a "my restrictive dietary choices that allow me to starve myself" as it has been put to me...

59ee717de524f921efb7f2984157339f

(871)

on February 25, 2013
at 10:58 PM

Mal, I have re-read this answer 10 times. It is so beautiful that I didn't quite know how to respond. Thank you so so much. Could you provide a link to your blog? Thank you for your generosity.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on October 03, 2012
at 09:24 PM

Beautiful answer. Thank you.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on June 28, 2012
at 12:18 AM

+1 for people being scared of the OP not eating. grilled chicken breast with no oil on a salad? that is a classic anorexic meal (not that it's always bad). throw some fat on that and people will relax and see it more as healthy instead of restrictive.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on June 28, 2012
at 12:18 AM

word. this is such good, sound advice!

584cdd1a2dd83e46b8b76758f4c57b19

(600)

on May 12, 2012
at 01:50 AM

Reading this is like looking into a mirror. Before I switched to paleo I was on an extreme calorie controlled diet (1200) I did this for a while but because I'm a perfectionist I ended up eating less and less. I then switched to a vegan diet and once again became obsessed about everything that I ate, it got to the stage that I wouldn't trust my friends or a cafe if they said there was no animal product Anyway I switched to paleo a few days ago and I can already see that I could develop another obsession with this one too, it's not that I'm not going to eat as I know I will but I know I'm worri

59ee717de524f921efb7f2984157339f

(871)

on April 05, 2012
at 02:40 AM

Blur, thank you so so much for this. you have no idea how comforting it is to know i am not alone. If you feel comfortable with communicating further, here is my email. I would love to hear from you. [email protected] you :)

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 01, 2012
at 04:37 PM

very thoughtful answer, Milla. :)

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5 Answers

9
B9637ddb9a9a5c6a7306e3c804fcd21d

(3217)

on April 01, 2012
at 04:29 PM

Hey there,

First of, well done for committing to getting better, and for overcoming your ED. I hope you give yourself credit for this as its a massive achievement.

This reminds me of another thread about orthorexia, and whether being paleo can be classed as a manifestation of an obsession with the purity of foods; and I think what is relevant to both questions is the context. So, for instance, an orthorexic would restrict themselves on the basis of an irrational preoccupation with purity, whereas a health-conscious individual would, say, avoid the same foods based on rational choice deduced from science and research (in our case, evolutionary evidence). Similarly, someone with, say, anorexia, would order a salad instead of fries (to take your example) because of an irrational fear of excess calories, while a health-conscious person would forego the fries because there is nothing good about strips of potato deep fried in rancid soybean oil.

Its immature, and not to mention insensitive and thoughtless to assume certain motivations behind actions, which is what those people are doing. However, a lot of people assume, so I think the only way to avoid that is to provide an in-depth explanation; you could point out that you eat adequate calories and mention that you eat very nutrient-dense foods when you cook for yourself, while exercising caution when eating out due to use of unhealthy ingredients in restaurants.

What's important, in your recovery, is what it means to you. Those who truly matter to you will take the time to listen to you and understand that your lifestyle - paleo - is not an eating disorder, but a health-conscious choice. Those who continue to throw scornful glances and dismiss your explanations are usually those whose role in your life you'd be right to doubt.

You know yourself and your thoughts better than anyone; true, sometimes I feel a tingle of jealousy when I see people who order without even glancing at the menu, but I remind myself that it isn't worth feeling like crap and then having to deal with all the health problems. You know that you are making certain choices, not to starve yourself, but in being health-conscious. It's the motivations and their rationality that distinguishes an ED (irrational motivations), from being health conscious (rational motivations).

Its true that when you examine your motivations, sometimes you will find the old fears associated with food creeping up - with EDs, they don't just go away overnight. But committing to getting better means you think about these fears and turn them away rationally - you realise that its harmful to starve yourself and do not act on impulse of the fear, but rather make a conscious, healthy choice.

I wish you the best of luck and health! And again, well done!

Love

Milla

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 01, 2012
at 04:37 PM

very thoughtful answer, Milla. :)

5
Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 01, 2012
at 04:30 PM

I'm no ED expert, but I have been there (as a teenager) and here's what I experienced: my relationship to food became all-emcompassing because it was a way to avoid dealing with other issues going on in my life. I set up a whole world of rules surrounding food and goals to set and meet and exceed that made me feel very powerful at a time when I was actually psychologically extremely fragile. But in the end food became my enemy, I was terrified of it, and scared shitless of the lack of control I might have if I let my guard down, even for a minute. So in the end, instead of me controlling food, it controlled me. Needless to say, I didn't enjoy food at all. Nor did I care about whether or not I was nourished by it. It took me at least 15 years to fully recover.

Do you see yourself in that at all? Is food controlling your life, are you afraid of slipping up all the time, or are you comfortable with your eating habits?

Congrats also for trying to get a handle on this. The sooner the better. To be honest, it sounds to me like you might have a case of orthorexia. I'm not sure I would want to go out to eat with you... What about the 80-20 thing? That's a very healthy approach. Why not consciously plan that 20% for those meals in the company of others, and use the opportunity to practice chilling and not being afraid of ingesting something that's not a perfect food?

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on June 28, 2012
at 12:18 AM

word. this is such good, sound advice!

2
4bc16f4181328acbdbb1dfbf0b77b25d

(70)

on October 03, 2012
at 11:35 AM

I do my best to stay off this site and all paleo-food sites but I do want to chime in here ??? . I suffered from a pretty horrible case of anorexia from ages 17-21(pushing 22 and 23). Now, at 26 soon to be 27 I am just now getting my life together in a place where I wake up confident with myself and my life on a daily basis. I can feel the deep rooted inadequacy in your post. I do think staying the hell off of the internet and away from the ???food world??? would be your first accomplishment. You don???t need to change your habits and needs as much as you need to work toward building confidence in yourself, your choices and your surroundings. You build confidence in your choices, you assure yourself and others you are okay making the decisions you are. Don???t assume you always need to have it together 100%, nobody does and you are no exclusion here. You???re at what seems to be a crossroad of leaving your eating disorder, and relearning being acquainted with life. Always choose life, it is always a better choice. Stay out of your head, but give yourself the time you need to keep it together. It???s not easy, nor do I think it ever will be easy for someone who has determined their control based around food and their body.

Realize you don???t have anything to prove and no one is going to be judging you when you have confidence in yourself. It is a mindfuck for sure, but ordering a salad instead of fries should be something you do with confidence and whack into a steak alongside it. that???s confidence and self-doubt. You???ll continue the self-doubt, future tripping etc until you learn to live IN the world as opposed to around it. recovery means balance and confidence. I know from my experience, the more I read and questioned the more obsessed I got with doing just that and it will become a disorder within itself, obsessed with finding this cure, the answer, someone to tell me exactly wtf to do to make it go away and me be normal, but the answer lies within yourself and finding your confidence and accepting yourself.

A big reward in recovery is losing your interest in food. Trust your mind and body that it will always keep going and behavioral attachments to food and rituals in your everyday life will seize IF???IFFFF you allow them to. you have to force a change, and stick with it. do things out of your comfort zone, accept that you???ll survive them and possibly enjoy it. You???ll start catching yourself IN a conversation as opposed to forcing yourself to listen to one. You???ll catch that ???spark??? your family and friends probably noted you lost when you started living in a catecholamine high. Everyone is subject to imperfection so just strive to be you. it really is an incredibly selfish disease and it just cultivates addiction. There are very VERY few experiences in life as maniac and jumbled in anxiety and self hate as an eating disorder that craves the attention of all your time. The high, the energy, the exhilaration- it???s a frantic mess and it is debilitating, as you explain in your post. Don???t let yourself get stuck in your loneliness, that???s a big trigger. You friends and family have the best of intentions when they stare or question you, they do NOT know how to act just as much as you do not. You gain your confidence, they gain it back in you as well. You cannot recover yourself, but you YOU can recover. It requires people, attachments, emotions, acceptance. You need to tackle fear. You need to tackle anxiety. You need to allow the overwhelming flood of fear to be resolved in a healthy manner. That takes other people. You need to direct your thoughts and actions toward other people, not yourself. You surely don???t think as irrationally about others and their lives as you do your own.

Something I wrote in my blog that might help you : We are bred from childhood to distinguish between failure and success, between achieving and failing and some of us(actually very few in my opinion) ever learn what real hard work is. Be is physical or mental, VERY few people actually do work really hard for something they want. What if recovery is going a bit slower than what you had hoped for? You tend to it, you think about it, and you overly nurture it holding on to ???that???- whatever that is which makes you so damned different and disordered. Everyone has something to them, but those in recovery have ???that??? and people can smell it from 100 miles away. Its mental, it is in your walk, it is in your talk, it is in your ability to say yes or no, to stick your nose up or go along with the ride. It is in your every move and detail of you life. You got it, and other people really truly think its fucked up???your different. Recovery involves mending this garden and getting rid of the weeds holding you back. How do you just stop, just change? How do you just go with it, the flow of life? Why the fuck cant you just be normal? These are thoughts and questions I have asked myself in the past, and aspects I still occasionally dwell on.

But the main goal and ability picked up by many in recovery is that patience is a virtue, you can???t force anything to happen and if you???re trying to, then stop it???let it go. There are sparks and highlights in recovery here and there; times when you???re damned proud of yourself, times when you should be a Mexican jumping bean of enthusiasm but you???re not, and times where you want and need the company of others but times where you need to be with yourself and learn to trust and accept that person.

People know your potential, don???t give anything less and don???t expect others to ???settle??? with a lesser than adequate person. Give people your all, but give recovery your every ounce of energy because in the end, your own ability to maintain happiness is all that counts. When you find that passion you and everyone is born with, you can run with it, and be able to do whatever you want.

Ill write more later, I gotta work :P

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on October 03, 2012
at 09:24 PM

Beautiful answer. Thank you.

59ee717de524f921efb7f2984157339f

(871)

on February 25, 2013
at 10:58 PM

Mal, I have re-read this answer 10 times. It is so beautiful that I didn't quite know how to respond. Thank you so so much. Could you provide a link to your blog? Thank you for your generosity.

1
C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:43 PM

Hi, I just want to say that I had something very similar happen to me. I am a second-year in college, and my first year I gained a bunch of weight, always having been slim and active when I was younger. I panicked, and started researching ways to be healthy. I found Mark's Daily Apple and gradually became primal/paleo. I slowly became very strict about being paleo, but mostly out of fear of what would happen if I didn't. Within 4-5 months, I had lost most of the weight I had gained at the beginning of the year. Then, going into last summer, I was going to be living on my own and cooking entirely for myself. The problem was, I started inadvertently restricting food, which perpetuated what I now see was an eating disorder. Along with intermittent fasting, which is often promoted on the paleo diet, this meant I wasn't getting nearly enough food. However, I could not let myself loosen up (I was even VLC at this point) out of fear that if I did, I would gain back all the weight I had lost. I recognized the signs that I had a problem: no energy for my workouts, losing hair, no period, always feeling cold, but I felt powerless to do anything about it. Since intake restriction actually causes preoccupation with weight and food, the simple act of getting less than you need is enough to trigger anorexia or eating disorder symptoms in those who are genetically predisposed to them. Fast forward about seven months of trying to recover from this (after intervention by my parents and my doctor) and I'm still trying to figure out where being healthy and paleo ends and the eating disorder begins. I'm realizing that IF is not an option for me, even though it works very well for some people. I also get the strange looks when I order a salad with no dressing when out with friends but I've gotten used to it. However, I've found it helpful to be OK with say, getting ice cream with friends or ordering a burrito with a corn tortilla- being flexible with paleo so that I am still in control but able to have a more normal life rather than being afraid of what I eat all the time. I also find weight-training to help, because of the focus on being strong and because I must adequately fuel my body in order to gain strength. Hope that helps a little, and let me know if you have any questions! I'd be happy to talk with you more about this since it seems like we had similar experiences.

59ee717de524f921efb7f2984157339f

(871)

on April 05, 2012
at 02:40 AM

Blur, thank you so so much for this. you have no idea how comforting it is to know i am not alone. If you feel comfortable with communicating further, here is my email. I would love to hear from you. [email protected] you :)

1
1955b5516a3eaedce732f4ea8bb3fa6c

on April 01, 2012
at 05:13 PM

I agree that you could use the 80/20 thing to your advantage and maybe teach yourself to not feel so guilty about your food choices while you are doing it. I totally understand not wanting to ingest most of what they put out or cook things in from a restaurant though, maybe you could counterbalance some of this by inviting people over to your place for a dinner sometimes and cooking them an awesome Paleo meal so you can show them how it is done when you aren't having to maneuver through SAD land. Maybe they would pitch in on groceries to help cover the costs. This would also be a great way to start learning more paleo recipes and get more adapted to cooking your own meals (pretty much a must to eat a healthy paleo diet). Show them you are not afraid of fat, calories, and eating tons of food. You just don't want to put industrial oils and gut-wrenching lectins in your body. When the meal is over and everyone has eaten inordinate amounts of food, see how everybody feels. Anybody bloated? Anybody got a tummy ache? Anyone about to poo their pants? Probably not. And then tell them how much fat you all just ate.

You could also look up some restaurants and find one that serves more paleo-friendly choices, like a steak house, and order a huge fatty steak cooked in butter and stuff like that. They probably just still think you are afraid to eat, show them you're not.

Paleo is by no means unhealthy or calorie restrictive, but I can see how it could look like that to non-paleos when ordering in a restaurant. Alot of times lettuce is your only safe bet. So I think maybe taking them into your ideal diet world (home-cooked paleo) would help alleviate some of their concerns and show them that it isn't about calories or how much food you are putting away, it's about the ingredients and quality of the food you are concerned about. Maybe you'll even be able to convert a few to your side this way! It's great that your vocal about the benefits of paleo (so am I!), but showing them will be more effective. Give it time and they will wonder how you look so healthy and glowy and have so much energy with an "ED".

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on June 28, 2012
at 12:18 AM

+1 for people being scared of the OP not eating. grilled chicken breast with no oil on a salad? that is a classic anorexic meal (not that it's always bad). throw some fat on that and people will relax and see it more as healthy instead of restrictive.

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