Monday, September 29, 2014

I Like to Eat

My last three posts were about my experiences with Binge Eating Disorder and the associated obsessive food thoughts and anxiety. Today I wanted to share another "eating problem" that I've had, that is *not* an eating disorder or anxiety issue... and that's the fact that I really like to eat yummy things.

Sound obvious? It's not, really. I find that sometimes people want to stick their issues in a box, name it, categorize it... maybe blame it a little bit. Sometimes when we have a difficult problem, like an eating disorder, it can be easy to just say "I am fat because I have this problem and it is out of my control." Indeed, as I mentioned before and elaborated on in the comments, mental health issues like eating disorders, OCD, anxiety and depression are not easily overcome, and can't just be changed by sheer willpower. Most of us are familiar with OCD in the form of obsessive hand washing. If a person is plagued by thoughts of germs and is compelled to wash their hands repeatedly until their skin is red and chapped, they're not going to suddenly stop doing it because someone says to them "hey, you are wrecking your skin. Quit doing that! The germs were washed off the first time. Get over it. Stop thinking about it and go do something else!" The same way, someone with BED who is eating so much that they are rapidly gaining weight and in danger of developing diabetes is not going to suddenly stop doing it because someone says to them "hey, you are wrecking your health. Quit eating so much! You don't need so much food. Get over it. Stop thinking about food and go do something else!" It is just not that simple.

I am not a mental health professional or a BED expert, but I do know the pain of feeling unable to change one's behaviors... unable to stop repeated thoughts. I know the helplessness of KNOWING that what you are doing makes no sense, and knowing you "should" stop, but being powerless to *make it stop.* But I also know the relief and joy of finally being freed from that kind of mental bondage.

I no longer binge. Now I am able to usually ignore and silence any obsessive food thoughts that do occur... but it took a long, long time for this to happen. More often than not, the "problem" with my eating lately is that I just want to eat something that tastes really good to me. Instead of a triggered, obsessive food thought like I would have in the past, I just have an idea like "boy, I would like to have pizza and chocolate chip cookies for dinner! Wouldn't that be good?" It doesn't repeat or harass. It's a normal food thought but it is for something that is not on my plan, or something not good for my health. And sometimes I just want to eat it anyway! So I do.

I think, but I don't know, that that is how most people decide what to eat most days, at least within the framework of what they have available to prepare or buy for their meals. A burger and fries sounds good so I have it. Or hey, I could make some enchiladas for dinner... that sounds good! That's how I used to decide what to cook for my family. It wasn't OMG I HAVE TO HAVE AN ENCHILADA!!!!!!! It just sounded yummy and it fit the bill for dinner. But when I started trying to lose weight, I had to start saying no to some of those foods, or making them in a healthier way. There is really no way for me to fit chocolate chip cookies into Paleo or Medifast or AIP, so I had to avoid them. And that, rather than obsessive thoughts or a drive to binge or 'trigger foods', is the thing I struggle with the most right now. (And really, it is a much better problem to have! Much easier to deal with than those other issues).

The way I have been working through this is to refocus my thoughts and desires onto foods that I like that *are* good for me and *are* on my plan. When I have that thought about wanting to make enchiladas, I go to my mental archives and pull out some meal plans for foods that I like that are AIP-compliant. For example, I kind of wanted lasagna for dinner tomorrow. But I really enjoy herb-seasoned, juicy pork sirloin roast! And I thoroughly enjoy roasted sweet potatoes, too. Fresh fruit is always a pleasure. With those thoughts in mind, I could easily plan a dinner I'd look forward to tomorrow, adding a green vegetable to round out the meal. There are so many good, healthy things I like that I can have on AIP, and by focusing on those foods instead of wishing for lasagna, I have meals I can be happy with that nourish me and my family.

I had to accept that I can eat delicious food without eating things that are harmful to me. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself for what I choose not to eat, and stop being a victim of my self-imposed dietary restrictions. Restrictions can be necessary, yes, but they can also be experienced as a blessing and not a punishment.

All of this has changed my life for the better. Instead of obsessing about food and wishing for specific things and wasting my days either fighting off cravings or going on a food run, I can put my energy into living life. Sure, I still have tough days sometimes. But it's much better than it used to be, and I am finding solutions that support my goals. I'll keep working at it for the rest of my life, for sure, but the rest of my life will be so much more *living* than *eating* because I refuse to go back to how it was before.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Two Kinds of Binges

The other day I wrote about how it looks like there may be a connection between obsessive-compulsive disorder and binge eating disorders... about how anxiety is common to both and how obsessive thoughts can lead to the binge. It's like other incarnations of OCD in that a specific thought gets stuck in your head, rotating, playing over and over and over, and one feels compelled to act on it. The trigger may be the sight of a certain food or even just the mention of it, and it doesn't even have to be a food that one particularly craves or likes. But that idea of a specific food just gets stuck. And it repeats and intrudes and gets in the way of other things you are trying to concentrate on. And it becomes so compelling or annoying and distressing that eventually, you feel desperate to make it stop. You can't think of anything else but The Food. And you KNOW that it is going to bother you and nag you and present itself in your head over and over until you give in and go get that food and eat it. That alone will give you relief and you'll no longer have that obsessive thought in your head. Relief, until you get another obsessive food thought. And if this goes on intensely enough, for long enough, and IF you don't purge, you end up morbidly obese.

But you know, sometimes, it's funny... sometimes it is just the giving in sensation itself that can make the obsession go away. I didn't understand this for a really long time... years. Every once in awhile I would have this constant nagging thought of some specific food, say, a bag of Lay's chips and some dip. And I didn't want to go off my diet plan, and I didn't want to eat more calories than I allotted for the day, and I didn't want to be weak and give in and eat it. So I'd ignore it and fight it and say no no no... until finally I was worn out from the obsessive thought pestering me and I got in the car and drove to the store and bought the chips and dip. And then I would get in the car, look at the bag, and NOT WANT THEM. It was actually really maddening. Frustrating. Because here I finally said okay and was all ready to go home and feel the sweet relief of eating these much-desired foods... and poof. The desire was gone. The superthought that I *could not resist* was gone. And I was left sitting in the parking lot with chips and dip I didn't really want anymore. Or sometimes it would be some restaurant food I had to have, or a fast food meal, or an ice cream sundae. And once it was in my hot little hands in the car... suddenly, it didn't matter anymore. Instead of the relief from the obsessive thought coming when I *ate* the food, it sometimes would happen when I *bought* the food. But you know what? I was all "I drove all this way and wanted this food so badly and by gosh I am going to eat it, because I wanted it so badly I was in a tizzy to go get it. And I am not going to throw away a burger, fries, soda and ice cream I just spent $8 on!" So I'd go home, or to the park, or sit in the car there and eat it all anyway. And then I'd feel repulsed and disgusted.

The key with this realization is that once you figure out that what you are doing is trying to stop OCD food thoughts... you don't HAVE to "go all the way" with the food! If you buy it and suddenly realize the OCD thoughts are gone, and you have relief, then *throw the stuff away* and go home. Eventually, there were times I would give in, get in the car to go buy the food, and then in the store before I bought it I'd notice the thought was gone and I already had relief, so I'd leave the store and go home. Sometimes, I'd find that the food thought dissipated while I was driving to the store to get the binge food. Then I was free to turn around and drive home. And in later stages of healing, often when I'd have those trigger thoughts, I could actually ride them out. Sometimes I could even trick them out by saying "okay, if I really need this food I will go get it." I grab my purse and keys, then I reassess. Often, the food thoughts would already be gone or much weaker. It seems just the action of *starting* to give in to the obsessive thought can sometimes be enough to make it go away and get relief.

There is another kind of binge, though, that has nothing to do with being triggered by seeing or smelling or thinking of a specific food. This kind of binge is more desperate... more scary. It is triggered by emotion. It can come on like a tsunami as a mixture of sadness or stress and food... it is comfort eating on steroids. We all know what comfort eating is. You get too tired, too upset about something, maybe just sick or PMS-ey or feeling down, and you have a mug of hot chocolate or maybe some chips or a donut and then you feel better. Well, with the emotional distress type of binge, the emotions are very strong and the eating is over-the-top. I mentioned my worst case of this type of binge when my mother passed away and I ate and ate and ate. I am amazed I didn't hurt myself with the sheer volume of food I ingested. This type of binge is trying to fill yourself up when you are empty, or trying to drown and stuff down very unpleasant emotions you do not want to feel. One way you can tell if this is the type of binge you're on is that it doesn't matter WHAT you are eating. You don't give a crap about going out and buying specific foods. You just throw open the cabinets and eat bowl after bowl of cereal or boxes of crackers or whatever happens to be there. I have binged on bags of chocolate chips, containers of frosting, bread and butter, cheese, jars of peanut butter, leftovers, anything that I could find. You know you are on this kind of binge when you take a can of raw biscuit dough and fry it and eat it all. You know you are on this kind of binge when you pour powdered sugar, cocoa, and butter in a bowl and mix it and eat it. You don't even taste it after the first 2 bites. You just go on autopilot, zone out and eat until your stomach hurts.

I have had a problem with both types of binges, and it's been a very hard thing to get away from. It's taken years and I am still not over the obsessive thoughts, although now they are weaker and far less frequent. I rarely act on them and never binge. The nice thing is, if you can find a way to stop the volume binge eating for several months, your stomach ought to shrink down enough that you cannot eat that volume of food anymore. Heck, I used to be able to put away a whole pizza plus some other junk and soda all at once. Now, I am full on one slice and stuffed on two. I was able to stop binge eating and get my stomach to a more manageable state by doing low carb shakes and very small volume meals (on Medifast) for 8+ months. I know I could stretch my stomach back out, and I probably have to some degree just by eating larger portions now than I did back then, but still I am not able to eat anywhere near the volume I did when I was bingeing. As for the emotional-type bingeing, it helped me to find other ways to deal with stress: writing, talking, counseling, friends, hobbies, self care, etc. It also helped me a lot to "shrink down" the volume of my comfort eating, and not do it *at all* if I am *really* upset or distressed (because it is hard to moderate your eating when your feelings are out of control). I sometimes just go off by myself and just cry until I feel better. But you know, for me, if I am just tired or crabby or annoyed and a cup of hot tea or a piece of on-plan "comfort food" helps me feel soothed, I am okay with that. So I think in terms of "shrinking down" both the emotions and the amount eaten, if that makes sense.

I'm far from an expert on eating disorders, but I *am* an expert on me. I hope by sharing my experiences and how I have begun to heal from binge eating it might help others know they are not alone and there IS hope, and there can be healing for you, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

On Shame and Guilt for the Binge

Driving to the store, I had the same thoughts as always. Will this be my last binge run? It has to be. I'll *make* it my last binge run. I'll get everything I have been obsessing about, all the things I could want or crave, and I'll eat them, and when they are gone I will never do this again. It has to stop. I can't keep doing this. I'll be 400 pounds in a year if I don't quit this. And this is no way to behave. I'm ashamed of myself. What if I get in a car accident on the way to the grocery store, and die? I will have died for food, for a donut, for a junk run. Even worse... the horror... what if I get in a car wreck *on the way home* from the binge run??? Car filled with hot dogs and Oreos... peanut butter cups and frozen Pizza Rolls scattered across the highway... me being pulled from the wreckage, frosting on my lips, cupcake crumbs on my lap... Coke splashed across the dashboard, mingling with blood... Everyone will know. Everyone will see. "I thought she was on a diet! Wasn't she doing Atkins or something? Why would she have all those bags of chips in her car? Why was she eating a cupcake? She died for a cupcake..."

Irrational thoughts. Fears, not of dying from sugar overload and high cholesterol and morbid obesity, but of being found out. Of getting caught on a binge run. Of people shaking their heads and saying, "Wow, she couldn't even control what she was eating. She couldn't stop eating candy bars even for her own health... her family... her own life!" A funeral full of mourners wondering at the revelation. "I didn't know she was a binge eater, did you?" A banner over the coffin... "Binge Eater." So ashamed. So humiliated.

Those fears drove me to hide the wrappers, to bury them at the bottom of the trash can where no one could see. They drove me to stop at the park after a fast food run so I could dispose of all the evidence in a public garbage can and then drive to school to pick up the children, windows down even in winter, airing out any lingering scent of burger-onions and French Fry grease. They drove me to eat in my bedroom, in the bathroom, sitting in parking lots in my car... alone, unseen. The shame of being "a pig, a glutton, a disgusting fat out-of-control person" eating enough for a whole family was just too much to bear. But I couldn't stop. I couldn't MAKE IT STOP. The constant thoughts, the cravings, the desires were irresistible. I didn't know it was an illness, but it was.

There is research that suggests, and I believe it, that eating disorders are linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, and that both co-exist with anxiety. For me, this is absolutely true! When my anxiety and stress level rose after my divorce, I developed binge eating disorder as a coping mechanism. I also started having panic attacks, and my binges were driven by repeated, obsessive and intrusive thoughts about food. It was always *very* specific, too: I had to have *that exact food item* and nothing else could substitute. My triggers were often visual; I'd see a commercial for McDonald's and then for the rest of the day (or longer) would have unwanted thoughts and cravings for a Big Mac, and I could get no relief from those thoughts until I actually went and ate a Big Mac. Sometimes the trigger would be a picture in a magazine, or a recipe I saw online. Sometimes I would see someone eating something. Sometimes it would just be the mention of a certain food that would be the trigger. I remember once when a friend said in an offhand way, "oh, I really love this brand of chips! They are my guilty pleasure!" Well, I had had those chips before. They were okay. But that mention caused those chips to be stuck in my head. I had thoughts about them for days. I saw them in my mind when I didn't want to. And those thoughts only stopped intruding when I gave in and bought those chips and ate them. Then I was relieved. Then the thoughts stopped. But the relief was short lived, replaced quickly by shame and guilt. I ate them, and now I will stay fat. I cannot succeed on any weight loss plan. I cannot resist the food thoughts. I have no self control at all.

I wanted a cupcake. I think someone at a meeting mentioned bringing cupcakes to a gathering, and then I had cupcakes stuck in my head. I put the thoughts aside, I got busy with something else. I ignored it, I fought it, but in a split second when I wasn't busy with other things, the cupcakes would pop back in... unbidden, unwanted, a vision of sugar and fat, fluffy and white and perfect, calling to me, bidding me to take a bite and slip into that food-induced calm it would bring. The cupcake kept popping back into my head, interrupting other thoughts, over and over until I set my work aside. I'd go on a cupcake run. I couldn't take the repeated, distracting cupcake thoughts anymore. I knew how to stop them, and I needed some peace. I got in the car... would I get in a wreck? I drove very carefully to the supermarket. I'd buy ONE cupcake, I'd eat it in the car. I'd get rid of the evidence. But when I got the the store, they only had cupcakes by the half dozen. I stared at the clamshell with the six perfect, white cupcakes topped with fluffy frosting and sprinkles. It was the cupcake from my brain! I had to have it. But no, you can't buy just one. I walked around the store some more. I thought about it. My kids knew I was on a low carb plan. I'd told them I was not eating any sugary food. I couldn't bring home a package of cupcakes with one missing! They'd know I'd eaten it... they'd know I was a failure. I bought it anyway. I sat in the parking lot, covered in anticipation and happiness and a little bit of shame leaking in... eating my cupcake. I stared at the rest. I could throw them all away. I would find a place so no one would know and I could pretend I was still eating the "right" foods. I drove towards home. I started thinking about saving one of those cupcakes and coming up with ways to get it into the house so I could hide it somewhere and eat it later... tonight, not tomorrow, because tomorrow I was going to eat all the "right," healthy foods. It would be my Day 1 again. But tonight I might regret throwing away all these cupcakes. But I couldn't risk bringing them in the house... getting caught.

This is the life of a person with an eating disorder... with obsessive food thoughts. It is a life I never want to go back to. A long time ago I stopped with the binge runs, but I do remember a day I wanted a cupcake so badly that I drove to the cupcake shop and sat in the parking lot and cried. That was a breakthrough moment for me, because although I had the intrusive food thoughts and could not stop myself from making the "run," I did stop myself from acting on it further. I stopped myself from buying the cupcake, eating the cupcake, and FEELING THE GUILT from eating the cupcake. I drove home without one. I drove home without shame.

Breaking this cycle is *hard.* For me, getting off sugar was one of the most important choices I made that allowed me to experience a lack of physical cravings for junk. Once my carb level was low enough and I stopped eating things like donuts and super-sweet or salty junk, my body was in line for healthier eating without as many cravings. But my brain, my mind, took longer. It takes a lot of time to learn how to stop obsessive behaviors. I *still* have obsessive food thoughts sometimes, but it's a mere fraction of the number of thoughts I used to have when I was actively binge eating. And now, they are weaker. Instead of harassing me constantly until I give in to them, these thoughts just annoy me for a short time. If I do not act on them or dwell on them, eventually they go away. And because of that, my resolve gets stronger each time I have these thoughts and succeed at letting them die off on their own. The less you feed them, the weaker they become.

The one thing that I appreciate the most out of this process is that I am finally letting go of the guilt and shame. Yes I had a binge eating disorder. But it was not "my fault." It was not a sign of my gluttony, laziness, or lack of worth as a human being. And neither is it a moral compass or a measure of my worth if I have one obsessive food thought in a day, or five, or thirty. I am no more guilty, more sinful, less good or kind or intelligent if I give in to one of those thoughts and, say, eat a potato chip... or a bowl of potato chips... than I am if I resist. And I am not a morally better person for having one chip and stopping than I would be by making that binge run and eating a whole bag of chips, a pie, and a pizza. But I am happier resisting. I am healthier by getting away from those foods. I will be able to meet my own goals and fulfill the purposes I have set for myself if I do not stay enslaved to the food and the thoughts. I have less anxiety, the guilt is gone, and I am not ashamed.

If you see yourself in these posts, if you feel burdened and enslaved by intrusive, obsessive food thoughts, junk runs, and binge eating, I would like to tell you it *can* get better. You can heal from this. It takes time, it takes a lot of work. My work is not done, still. Please, if you see yourself here, if you are sad, if you feel alone and ashamed. know you can reach out and get help. Help for the behavior, for the thoughts and the anxiety. You can work on this, you can break free. I know you can! Know it, believe it. I am on your side. Life without the shame, it is so much better. It is my deepest wish that we will heal completely from the scars and sadness of binge eating and be free to fully enjoy all that life has to offer... without the guilt.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Insanity of Binge Eating Disorder, and the Long Path to Recovery

A long time ago, I developed Binge Eating Disorder. I'm not even sure exactly how that happened; I started out a normal weight, with normal eating habits. I know I began comfort eating when I lost a much-wanted pregnancy at 21. I probably ate too much in general in my early 20's just because I was a good cook, loved to bake, and enjoyed eating those things with my family. I put on an extra 20 - 25 pounds after three pregnancies and two losses in a short period of time. I ate sometimes to feel better. To stuff down the awful grief. A piece of pumpkin loaf was a nice distraction; a cinnamon roll took my mind off the fact that I was not able to hold those babies I had so loved and wanted. But it was one cinnamon roll. I didn't binge.

It didn't occur to me to binge back then. I ate normal meals, stopped when full. Maybe have an afternoon snack some days. But all of it was normal portions. I never had a fleeting thought to eat two or three of those cinnamon rolls in a day, or a week... much less six in one sitting. That came much later.

Years went by and my family grew. I guess my stomach did, too, because I found myself gaining more weight with each pregnancy. Six babies, two lost, five years. Bedrest. More comfort eating, a cinnamon roll more often now. But still just one. Still normal portions, calm feelings, enjoyment of every bite. No crazy cravings, no "food runs". Maybe a little more lasagna... an extra half piece. Breastfeeding made me hungry! The calories definitely crept up, the activity level while on bedrest was nonexistent. Poor choices in my eating, very few vegetables, lots of cheese and sauces and carbs. When I delivered #4 I weighed 200 pounds. But I didn't binge.

I exercised. I ate healthy. I joined a gym and counted calories and lost over 30 pounds. I got back down to 167 and was feeling good. But then... divorce. And after the divorce, stress. No food. No money. Scrambling to find work, wishing there was someone, anyone... an aunt, a sister, a cousin, a grandma... to help with the four little children on those long days. We started eating from the food bank then. Afraid some days of not having enough to eat, but relieved on other days when the food bank gave us 3 dozen cookies, 6 loaves of bread, a box of cinnamon rolls, several packages of muffins, and two bakery cakes. And then, I started to binge.

In one year I gained 80 pounds. It's almost a blur, all of it. I had no idea it was happening. It never occurred to me that I was binge eating when I would eat a whole box of donuts in a day. After all, that's what we had here to eat. Beans and rice or scrambled eggs for dinner, maybe some canned soup or pasta sometimes. But hey, there are 3 boxes of donuts on the counter and someone has to eat them before they get moldy or stale and I was really grateful to have them... so the kids and I ate them. Before work, after work, on weekends. Lots and lots of cheap, day-old, bakery foods from the food bank. And I didn't see the weight gain, and the stretch pants fit just fine for 20 or 30 pounds and then "wow, these cheap pants have holes worn in the thighs already! I better go get another pair from Walmart. They must have changed the way they size these things, because I swear I was a 16 and now I am an 18!" And I binged and ate and bought new stretch pants all the way from 167 pounds to 245 pounds, and never truly saw what was happening. I was too emotionally distraught by my circumstances to care about my weight. Never knew I was binge eating. It was automatic after awhile. Eat and eat, anytime something that tastes good appears. Eat it until you can't eat anymore.

Go back, read my early blog posts. I describe true binge eating disorder there. People who tell me I binged when I ate 3 cookies, or that eating a sandwich and fries at Applebee's for dinner is a binge, truly do not understand binge eating. A binge is not eating too many calories at lunch, or having a food that isn't on your diet plan. A binge is not overindulging at Thanksgiving or having an extra helping of dessert. I understand that to YOU, any excess might be called a "binge." But you are using that word as slang for "ate too much." And that is not what binge eating is.

Rapidly eating a large volume of food.
Eating more and more even when full.
Hiding the evidence.
Inability to stop.
Compulsive/obsessive thoughts about food.
Eating in secret.
Feeling completely out of control.
Eating until it hurts.

And it HURTS. I lived it. More than a decade.

When the poverty ended and I could finally afford to eat *whatever I wanted*, all the feelings of sadness turned to glee. I did not have to eat those day-old donuts and cakes anymore! I could eat at McDonald's every day if I wanted to, or go out to nice restaurants each weekend. I could buy or make a *good* fresh cheesecake, or good cheese for lasagna, or make a big meal of roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls with butter, and a pie for dessert. I could buy all the things I used to have to bypass in the grocery store. Haagen Dazs ice cream! Deli enchiladas! Chocolate covered nuts, boxes of chocolate, truffles, Philly cheesesteaks! As many kinds of chips as I wanted. And oh how I wanted.

Looking back it was insanity. But isn't that what binge eating disorder is? A mental illness? I couldn't see what I was doing to myself. I couldn't talk any sense into the out-of-control binge eater ordering 3 kinds of pizza for dinner and baking cookies and brownies in the same day. She was just SO HAPPY to have what she wanted. Finally. Except she didn't really want to weigh 283 pounds. But that's where this behavior led.

I know I still have food issues. Of course I know. I do still sometimes eat things I wish I hadn't. I do still sometimes get intrusive food thoughts and cravings. The difference now is:

These thoughts are no longer a daily event, but more on the order of a few times a month.
I am aware.
I think about what I am doing.
I usually put these thoughts aside and do not act on them.
I act on these food thoughts rarely, instead of several times a day, every day.
If I do act on these thoughts, I am moderate. One serving. Maybe two, max.
I do not eat rapidly and out of control.
I can stop.
I do not eat until it hurts.

I am not ashamed that I had a sandwich and fries while I was sick. I am not ashamed that I found my cup of tea with coconut milk and honey deeply comforting this morning. I am not ashamed that I had a softball-sized peach for a snack. And I am not ashamed that I had cake for dinner one day last month.

I appreciate the comments many of you leave. I reexamine my behaviors and thoughts on a regular basis, and many of my breakthroughs were sparked by words left here over the years by readers. But I also want you to know, so that you are not disappointed, that each of us has our own reasons for what we do, and our own goals for how we want our lives to be, and our own decisions to make about what is acceptable or not in our own lives... but not in the lives of others. Your ideal life is not my ideal life. There are things I am not satisfied with: my activity level, my weight, my tendencies to slip off plan when I am stressed or sick. All of those things are intertwined, all of them are things I am aware of and addressing. But there are also things I *am* content and satisfied with: finding pleasure in my food, taking comfort from something I eat or drink that is *not* harmful to my health, using this blog to write about my diet and food thoughts, and letting go of the guilt I used to feel surrounding what I eat. I am far, so far from perfect! You know this and so do I. There are hints of BED still within me. Sometimes I wish for it, I long for it, I want it: shopping sprees and grocery carts filled to the brim with junk. Evenings alone eating ten kinds of delicious foods after the kids go to bed. Giving in to the euphoria of that food-induced high. Like a druggie. But you know what? I *do* remember all the bad. I force myself to remember the pain, both emotional and physical. I close my eyes and feel how I used to feel when I came down from the binge, so sad, so hopeless, so alone, so ashamed. And then I open my eyes and I know I don't really want it anymore.

I could relapse, I know it. There is a fine line there between obsessive thoughts and actions. I pray that as time goes by my desire to stay clean from the binge will continue to grow stronger as my memories and desires for the binge fade and weaken. I am not invincible. It has taken years to stop binge eating and will surely take more years to erase the voices of the obsessive food thoughts. I do not have the same thoughts as a person who has never suffered from BED. But I also no longer have the same thoughts as a person who is fighting to break free from the binge addiction. And for that, I am deeply thankful.

Monday, September 15, 2014

AIP Breakfast: Summer Squash Hash

This morning I wanted to share a breakfast that I enjoy many days, especially during the summer months when summer squash is abundant. A breakfast "hash" is usually made from potatoes, and while I've made breakfast hash from sweet potatoes on AIP, sometimes I want a less starchy, lighter option for breakfast. Thus was born the summer squash hash.

My favorite squash for this is patty pan squash. It is colorful and sweet and seems to release less liquid than other varieties. But I've also made hash from zucchini and yellow crookneck squash with success.

First, get your bacon started in the pan. I usually cook 2 slices for my breakfast. You'll use the grease to cook the hash; if you are not making bacon this morning, you can just use some reserved bacon grease. It gives a very nice flavor. Be sure and use uncured, sugar free, pastured bacon. Also check for spices; some bacon contains paprika which is not permitted in AIP. I buy my bacon from the local farmer's market.

While your bacon is cooking or grease is heating, wash and prep your chosen squash. You'll also need a sweet onion:

pattypan squash and onion

Chop enough squash for your liking; amounts are not important. Just remember it will shrink down a bit while cooking so cube up enough squash for your breakfast. Cut it into little cubes, like hash browns. Also, dice 1 slice of onion for each serving of squash.

When your bacon is done, remove it from the pan and pour off most of the grease, leaving enough to coat the pan. Add the squash and onion to the hot grease and cook until translucent and browned. You will want to stir it a few times when it is first added to the pan, but then stop stirring long enough to let the edges brown a bit. When the vegetables are browned and tender, add some sea salt. If your protocol allows, you can add black pepper and/or some herbs to the hash at the end. (The strictest form of AIP prohibits pepper).

I serve this with bacon, avocado, and fruit.

Autoimmune paleo AIP breakfast hash

It's a simple, delicious, and filling breakfast. I look forward to trying this hash recipe with winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc) this fall. Hope you enjoy it!

For more AIP-friendly recipes, check out Phoenix Helix's Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable! New recipes each week!

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