Daniel + Donald + Dave = A Post about Meal Plans & Eating Disorders

Greetings!

Long time no see. Daniel asked me yesterday why I hadn’t blogged this week and I kind of brushed the question off by saying, “I don’t really feel like I have anything to say.” He was not satisfied with my answer excuse. He thought about it for a second and then said, “Isn’t that usually when you really have the most to say?”

Why yes, yes it is. Daniel has gotten so wise in his old age.

Here we are. I don’t even know where this post is going or if I will even hit “publish” once I write it, but let’s just see what happens, shall we? My hesitation is likely due to the vulnerability factor of the things that are on my heart.

I’m sure this crazy election is at the forefront of the minds of most Americans. I am not turning this into a political post, but I just want to acknowledge that all of this talk about sexual assault and the objectifying women is HARD. It’s difficult to hear and to be talked about as a “statistic.” It stirs up feelings that I don’t like and make me say things like “I don’t have anything to say” when in fact it is quite the opposite.

Moving on.

If you’ve been following along for a little bit you know that we somewhat recently started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. We have learned a lot and we are already seeing results and making progress towards our goals. The one thing that I have really noticed about going through this class is how over-arching some of the concepts are. In some ways I feel like Dave Ramsey has permeated our lives (in a good way).

We aren’t just learning how to create a budget for your money. Let’s face it. Budgeting is not rocket science, but sticking to a budget … now that is more difficult. It takes planning, communication, discipline and self-control.

So far I would say that the biggest positive takeaways have been in the areas of planning and communication. The planning relates to more than just money. Dave says that if you don’t tell your money where to go, it leaves on its own. The same thing relates to your time. If you don’t have a time “budget,” your time gets away from you. Seriously! Where does it go?

Communication is not one of my strengths. If you call me on the phone, I’m probably not going to answer (it’s really nothing personal, I promise) and to add to that, I don’t have voicemail. I don’t know what it is about the phone, but I strongly dislike it.

If you are in my life and we see each other on a regular basis, I am pretty good at staying in touch, but if we don’t see each other regularly, I majorly drop the ball on the communication front. In general, I’m not a big talker. I tend to keep my thoughts to myself (which is somewhat ironic as I sit here typing every single thought that pops into my head).

Daniel and I have been communicating well and collaborating on the budget. I even showed him how to use QuickBooks (proud wife moment). This might not seem like a big deal and it’s not like we didn’t communicate with each other before this, but I can tell that there has been a positive shift and for that I am thankful.

Every Sunday afternoon we watch our lesson, then we discuss what we plan to eat for week and then we go to the grocery store and try to not blow our entire budget in one fell swoop. He gave an example in one of the videos about a couple that didn’t have any retirement savings, because they “ate it” (i.e., they spent all of their money eating out). As it turns out, food is hands down the biggest “expense” for us as well (not necessarily eating out, but the combination of groceries and eating out).

There have been some positives and negatives from this so-called meal planning. I don’t really like to use that term for it, but I haven’t come up with anything better thus far.

Patience is not one of my virtues. When I get home from work (or running or whatever extracurricular activity is going on any given evening), I am usually hungry and ready to eat. Like I want to eat 10 minutes ago. I reach that “hanger” phase (hunger + anger) and it is very unpleasant.

We got an Instant Pot (it’s basically the opposite of a crock pot, for impatient folks like myself) and we are actually cooking stuff, so that’s definitely a positive. I like to use our lack of stove as an excuse as to why I don’t cook, but that is just a really big cop-out. We’ve had an oven before and *spoiler alert* I didn’t cook then either. Cooking is not something that I enjoy. I don’t know that it ever really will be, but who knows. I won’t write it off entirely just yet.

The thought of spending hours (or anything over 15 minutes really) on a meal that is going to be eaten in less than 15 minutes and then all that is left are a bunch of dirty dishes, well y’all, that just doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s kind of like ironing. I don’t understand it. It’s a totally foreign concept that I can’t wrap my (ignorant) brain around.

Back to cooking though. It is one of those necessary evils, especially if we have kids one day. Please read carefully: that if was very intentional. If we have kids, of course I want them to have a normal relationship with food and a healthy body image, which means that they will need to eat “normal meals.” I don’t want to “mess them up” and that is a very real fear (#realtalk) and also a little bit off topic, but not entirely off topic.

Let’s talk about meal planning for a minute. At first the thought of it was totally overwhelming to me. In typical all or nothing fashion, I had envisioned going from basically no meal planning whatsoever to creating this beautiful, healthy, nutrient-rich meal plan for us to follow for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Of course that didn’t happen. Daniel (the wise old man that he is) suggested that we take it in smaller chunks. Let’s figure out one day’s worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner and try to have that each day of the week the first week. Then we can add variety gradually.

Small chunks. I liked the idea of that. I could handle that.

Having a meal plan is an important part of recovering from an eating disorder. It is the backbone of your recovery, because without it you aren’t able to do the deeper, emotional healing work that sustained recovery requires. The only time that I have specifically followed a “meal plan” is during recovery, which is why I am not real keen on the phrasing of it now. I just associate it with eating disorders.

Eventually you move away from following the “meal plan” and learn to eat intuitively (p.s., if you have mastered this CONGRATULATIONS and please share your pointers). You don’t want to be so rigid with your meals that you can’t deviate from what the plan says.

Rigidity. Discipline. Self-control. Those are a few things that I typically excel at. For several years now I have shied away from meal planning by convincing myself that following a meal plan was too rigid and I wanted to be more spontaneous with my food choices. While this is good in theory, unfortunately I am quite possibly the least spontaneous person you’ll ever meet. Cereal for dinner? So spontaneous! Oh my.

The first week of our “plan” we spent WAY more at the grocery store than we typically would have. Not gonna lie, that was kind of disheartening. We were trying so hard to be smart about what we were getting! After that first week though, we’ve been doing a lot better. So far our staples have been chicken (or some other type of meat), lots of grains (oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, etc.), beans, potatoes, yogurt, fruits and veggies.

The key for me is to actually prepare some of this stuff ahead of time (due to above-referenced lack of patience when hungry). We’ve been cooking the grains on Sunday and putting them in individualized containers to have during the week and then cooking the meat and vegetables the night of. It’s worked pretty well for us so far.

We are still working on adding the variety in there and I want to make sure to continue to work on that. I am really bad about falling into food ruts and I can feel myself doing that now, so I want to nip that in the bud. Being in a rut with a balanced dinner of protein, carbs and vegetables is definitely better than being in a rut with a dinner of cereal though! Baby steps.

I tend to fall into food ruts when I am avoiding dealing with something. It’s so bizarre to me how that happens, but sure enough it does. It’s almost like disordered eating is so ingrained in me that it is my first coping mechanism to deal with anything life throws my way. I am saying disordered eating instead of eating disorder there on purpose. They are not the same thing.

Someone with an eating disorder has disordered eating, but not everyone with disordered eating meets the criteria for an eating-disorder diagnosis. Eating disorders are psychiatric illnesses. Disordered eating, however, can just involve abnormal thoughts about food and episdoes of restriction or binges that do not amount to a psychiatric illness.

I haven’t gone into a lot of detail about my eating disorder and/or disordered eating on the blog, except for acknowledging that is something that I have struggled with and that I will likely struggle with (in a sense that I have to stay cognizant of it) forever. As bleak as that sounds, it is the truth. Everyone has something that they struggle with, whether or not they want to admit it, so we might as well be open about things so that we can help each other out.

I might do a post of “my eating disorder” story at some point. I’ve thought about it a lot, but I can’t decide what, if any, good would come from it. It would probably be very therapeutic to write, but I also think it might come across as hurtful to a few people who I care about. I’ll try to do an abbreviated version …

I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating … I have all of the intrinsic traits (perfectionistic, inflexible, disciplined, cautious, etc.) that set me up perfectly for this struggle. It was really just a matter of what would send me over the edge. It’s no one person’s “fault.”

A few mean comments and I was there. It started in high school. I lost some weight (I honestly don’t know the specifics of amounts, etc. and if I did I likely wouldn’t share that anyway … comparison is not a good game to play, especially in this area) and it got to the point where enough people expressed concern that my parents took me to the doctor.

My doctor (family practice) told me to gain weight and I did. It really didn’t seem like a very big deal at the time. I didn’t see a nutritionist or go to counseling or anything like that. Looking back I think this would’ve been super helpful. I would highly recommend any young girl that is struggling with weight or body image issues to talk to a professional about it.

Some people have awesome college experiences and remember it very fondly, but that is the absolute opposite of my college experience. I went to a big school, joined a sorority (I am NOT a sorority girl … learned that lesson the hard way) and was a small fish in a big pond. I was used to being a big fish in a small pond. The adjustment was too much for me. I threw myself into my school work (I graduated with a 4.0 and had no social life) and unsurprisingly, I started to lose weight again.

Same song, slightly different verse. I went to the doctor and was told to gain a few pounds. Got it. This time, however, I felt more “out of control” with the weight gain and that was not a good feeling. I was healthier physically, but mentally I was not. It was while I was at this (already) low point that I was raped. Talk about an earth-shattering, life-altering event. Bam. I was left feeling so broken that I didn’t think I would ever be happy or live a normal life again.

I was terrified. Of life. Of death. Of everything. After spending a few weeks at home, I went back to school and I tried to carry on as normal as possible, but I couldn’t. I was too scared to do anything. I had to withdraw from classes (another low point for little miss 4.0) and this is when I spent 45 days at an inpatient recovery center in Arizona. I am so grateful for my time there. I learned a lot. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready or able to process everything that I learned. I still had a rough road ahead of me when I got back home.

I don’t recall ever really having one “aha” moment where things started to click and I was all of a sudden “healed.” Perhaps that is because I am still broken. We all are. While there was no one moment, there have been a series of moments, years, decades even that have allowed me to heal gradually.

Running has been instrumental in the healing process. I know that “exercise” in general is a slippery slope with eating disorders, but I truly do not see running as an issue at this time in my life. Exercise has been an issue, but I don’t run for “exercise.” I’m sure that sounds absolutely crazy. I don’t know if I will ever be able to adequately convey what I am trying to say with that. Running is part of who I am. It makes me a better version of myself. It gives me strength and confidence. It gives me friendships and love.

Daniel is a saint of a husband. He is supportive, caring and compassionate. God knew exactly what I needed in a husband. We both have struggles and in this oddly complex, perfectly imperfect way, we’ve helped each other overcome them. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband. When he said that I likely had “a lot to say” … #nailedit.

The ultimate TRUTH is that I am a child of God, created in His image. He is the ultimate HEALER and the one that sets us free from the chains that enslave us. He gives us great worth that nothing and no one (not even Donald Trump) can take away from us. He is the one that deserves all of the glory, honor and praise. Regardless of the results of this election, He is still King of King and Lord of Lords. He will reign forever.

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2 thoughts on “Daniel + Donald + Dave = A Post about Meal Plans & Eating Disorders

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart on your blog. I admire your strength (even though you may not call it that sometimes) and courage. You are making an impact for Christ, and I am so proud of you! Miss you, friend!

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  2. Interesting post, and it’s awesome that you are comfortable enough to share it. I relate to this post on several levels. I agree with you that when I want to eat, I want to eat NOW and having to cook is not a good use of time. But when I got sick with mono, I realized that I wasn’t incorporating enough fruits and veggies into my day (only at dinner) so now I make sure to plan them in when I go grocery shopping on the weekend. This planning has actually increased our grocery spend because lots of produce is more expensive than just the produce you need for dinner, but it’s worth it. Regarding eating disorders, I am no stranger to this. I didn’t have a meal plan during recovery because it was that kind of focus and structure which made me go crazy. I needed to learn to eat without really thinking about it, which I did. Anyway, I really admire you for trying to eat healthy and within a budget, without backsliding into disordered thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

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