This week has been the most chaotic, yet enjoyable weeks I have had since leaving treatment. The beginning of the week was spent out of town with good friends, a bacon cheeseburger and a Maroon 5 concert; while the second half of the week has been spent with my nose in a text book, cramming for midterms.
For the first time since leaving treatment, I have actually felt like a somewhat normal person this week. Instead of filling my time 100% focused on recovery, I have had the opportunity to have a little fun and experience life like a twenty-four (almost twenty-five) year old should be.
As wonderful as this all sounds, it has come with a small price; my meal planning has been much more loose than normal. Right now in my recovery, I am at a point where I feel comfortable estimating the calories in one meal per day, while the rest are still carefully counted. I have been experimenting with this for a few weeks with my therapist and my weight has remained stable, so it seems to be going well.
This week, however, I have estimated to the best of my ability almost everyday. With a busy schedule and life getting in the way, I have had to do my best to trust my hunger cues. Eventually, I hope to be able to eat like this all the time, but this week has taught me that I am not quite there yet and how important meal planning is during the early stages of recovery.
So, I thought for today I would make a list of my top ten reasons why meal planning has been such a positive aspect of my recovery so far:
1. Still not cannot trust my hunger cues2. Keeps calories in check- making sure I get the right amount3. Provides a sense of comfort- if I stick to my maintenance calories, I know I will not gain or lose weight4. Setting meal and snack times helps prevent skipping meals5. Has helped me 'relearn' to eat again6. Allows me to eat whatever I want, within my calorie range7. Allows me to focus on life, instead of obsessing about food8. Keeps me satisfied, making the binge/purge cycle less likely to happen9. Eating regularly keeps my metabolism fired up10. Having the food aspect of recovery under control, allows me to focus on the mental part and underlying issues of the disorder
As I continue to become a normal person again, I know my meal planning will continue to become less strict and eventually disappear from my life completely; but for now it's kind of cool to stop and realize how far meal planning has gotten me. Upon leaving treatment, my therapist at the time always told me, "Meal plan! Meal plan! Meal plan!!!" and it's finally clear why she was so persistent about it.
Overall, it has been a good week. The pace of progression is still on the slow side, but that seems to be the secret of my recovery so far. Someday my eating habits will normalize again, but for now I'm perfectly content to continue meal planning if it allows me to experience the simple joys of everyday life.