Tuesday, 9 June 2009

getting to know you...

The process of getting to know your body doesn't happen all at once. Actually, if you're me, it doesn't even happen gradually. It happens in a series of bunny hops, of moments when you say to yourself, "oh, I can't believe I didn't notice that before..."

I've been in definite ED recovery for, oh, seven or eight months now. It seems like longer. I've lost weight, though not deliberately. I'm eating reasonably normally, and fairly well. I haven't binged in a long time, and I've pinpointed the one thing that still seems to trigger me.

But truthfully, my body is still a mystery to me, just as it always has been. It's just a mystery I feel much better about – a mystery I've learned not to loathe. I wouldn't say I'm all the way to love yet, but I'm definitely at acceptance.

I've also been diagnosed with PCOS in that time, and started taking metformin, which has worked miracles. I'm having a normal menstrual cycle for the first time in years. I'm getting PMS (which I've never had) and I'm pretty sure I'm ovulating, all of which is good.

And today I discovered (or, more to the point, woke up to the fact) that eating white bread at lunchtime makes me feel like shit: exhausted, headachy, generally grouchy, and desperate for a nap.

Now, understand, I don't approve of diets on principle, but I don't think that's the same thing as trying to eat to how your body is feeling. There's nothing morally wrong with white bread, and if I want to eat it, I'll eat it. But I think it's clear that I need to start paying attention to the physical results of particular foods. I've had the whole low GI thing in my head since the PCOS diagnosis, and I've been semi-following it in a relaxed sort of way. But I never really twigged to the fact that, actually, what I eat makes a difference to how I feel.

I know that sounds ridiculous. But I've been a compulsive binge eater for more than two decades – food has made me feel desperate and crazy and obsessive and miserable and angry and all kinds of other things, but I've never really noticed how it made my body feel. I've been so disassociated from my body for so long that I've never known how it feels, especially in relation to food. I binge ate because it temporarily made my emotions feel better (well, till I started excoriating myself for the eating) – I tuned out the effects on my body. Oh, I'll pick it up if I'm in pain or sick or something, and I'm not good at suffering that in silence either, but I'm not at all attuned to how environmental factors make me feel, unless they're causing me really obvious pain or discomfort.

Certainly, I never noticed before that eating a white baguette at lunchtime is a bad idea – not because it's wrong or bad, just because I feel like crap afterwards. And that might not matter so much if I had it at dinnertime, or on the weekend, but it matters when I'm at work. So this is something I'm going to try to explore over the next few months: How Things Make Me Feel. How particular food makes me feel, how exercise makes me feel, how sleep makes me feel, how the absence of any of the above makes me feel.

It's a weird sensation to discover that your body has been sending you messages all the time, but you've been lalala-ing with your head in the clouds and never noticed it.

Sorry, body.


CTJen said...

I had a similar experience when I was diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance a couple of months ago. It's like "Oh, NOW I get what you were trying to tell me..."

Best of luck to you...

Heidi said...

I didn't realize how many blood sugar issues I had because of PCOS until I started size acceptance work, for precisely the reasons you mention - I ate too much and too often, and made myself feel miserable too much, to know the difference between that misery and the misery caused by eating foods that didn't really agree with my body.

I still have a long way to go...but it was SO empowering to realize that I *have* to start my day with protein and then figure out how to do that (frozen homemade breakfast burritos that I heat up at work). I feel better in the mornings and my body feels better too.

Well done you! Will be seeing a nutritionist soon to try to figure out some of these issues that I haven't managed to solve for myself (and maybe get some Metformin while I'm at it).

Anonymous said...

I just figured out the same thing with refined sugar. I had to stop eating it for a while because of an illness, and when I started again I realized that more than a cookie makes me feel like crap.

The Cookie Monster said...

I just started reading your blog, makes for good reading.

Good luck on the journey.