#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 24, 2022)

Hi everyone on this rainy Saturday. How are you doing? Take a seat and have a drink, as I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by sharing that last Monday was my and my husband’s eleventh wedding anniversary. We drove to Steenwijk, a town in the far north of my province, where we had lunch and went for a short walk. Then we drove to Blokzijl, a small town not far from there, where we had another walk around town and my husband took a photo of me with a large cannon.

Then we drove to Ikea in Zwolle, where my husband bought a few things, I looked for a new desk chair, and we had dinner. Unfortunately, they only serve the vegetarian version of the Swedish meatballs now, so I had chicken.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I got a new pasta machine from one of the staff – the staff who always gives us clients everything she finds at thrift stores. This one works electronically or so she told me. I didn’t tell the staff that any pasta machine is hand-operated by default and a motor is optional. This one does have a motor. I did E-mail another staff to ask her to bring her tool kit one more time to remove the fenders for me.

If we were having coffee, I would share that the dietitian showed up unexpectedly for an appointment yesterday. The reason was the fact that I’d lost quite a bit of weight and had been compulsively exercising a lot over the past few weeks. Although the compulsive exercising seems to have reduced this week, I did need a bit of a reverse kick in the behind. You see, I have a history of disordered eating, bordering on bulimia, and although my main means of compensating used to be purging, this could definitely become a thing with over-exercise too. I do need to monitor this closely.

If we were having coffee, I would use the rest of this post to update you about the prospective new care home. I didn’t write a coffee share post last week, so those visiting from there might not know this, but the client in whose place I could come at the home at the main institution, moved out this Thursday. I had my first orientation visit with the prospective new home last Wednesday, am getting another on Monday and, if then I want to move, moving date has been set for October 5.

My first orientation visit went quite well. The clients are quite verbally capable, although of course they do “live in their own world”, as the support coordinator phrased it. The apartment – separate living room, bedroom and private bathroom – is quite large, although I couldn’t fully grasp its size because the client who was moving out had a lot of furniture. My husband did ask whether I would have to clean the apartment myself, but I assume not. I asked though just to be sure.

I love the fact that there are a lot of sports and recreational facilities on grounds, although the staff aren’t yet able to say how we could fit those into my day activities.

A great positive of the possible new home is that they cook their own meals everyday. Yay for no more meal delivery service junk!

My husband is coming to have a look around the home on Monday too, so he may be able to ask his questions too. I am quite excited but still a bit nervous.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 18, 2022)

Hi everyone and welcome to my post for this week’s #WeekendCoffeeShare. I hope you’re well. I’m about to have my afternoon coffee, so am going to take a break in the middle of this post to drink that. I also still have herbal tea, water and I do now in fact have my fruit infusion bottle in the fridge. It has cucumber in it. I’d recommend that either alone or in addition to coffee, as it’s quite hot here. It’s only about 27°C right now, but I’m sweating profusely. Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start by saying that this week was okay. Like I shared on Monday, I went to look at my assigned staff’s pet hedgehog. That was fun and helped me keep a somewhat positive attitude all through the week, despite feeling a bit meh.

If we were having coffee, I would also share that I was successful at being more physically active over this week. I went on the elliptical Wednesday and Friday, both for a little over ten minutes. I also took some walks. Yesterday, it was even hotter than it was today, so I only took a few short walks around the day center.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you all about my dietitian’s appointment yesterday. I am experiencing a slight slip-up with respect to purging behaviors, but it’s not related to binge eating per se. That didn’t make it not worrisome, the dietitian said, but at least it means my bulimia isn’t coming back. Overall, she complimented me on how I’m doing with respect to being able to follow my food plan but also being able to deviate from it in moderation at times. For example, I bought a bag of licorice last week and am having a few pieces of licorice a day most days. That way, right now, I still have half the bag left, while a few years ago I’d consume the whole bag within half an hour or less.

The dietitian also gave me some advice about planning for when I go out to eat for my birthday next week. For example, she recommended I eat a small serving of fruit at like 4PM to prevent me feeling like I’m starving by the time we’re at the restaurant at 6PM. I am not really sure I feel like following her advice though and I’m not sure that’s my eating disorder talking or just my wish to have a good time and not be minding my diet for once.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I am really happy that today we don’t have temp workers at the home at all. Yesterday we did have one and he was assigned to work my one-on-one shift. I really wasn’t pleased to say the least. I don’t do well with male staff to begin with and this was someone I didn’t know at all. I am honestly quite angry that the staff felt like assigning him my shift, because they know how much I struggled with the one regular male staff doing my one-on-one shifts. I feel like honestly my boundaries are being tested a lot lately and, with how clear the manager was that this was the way things worked, I’m not sure I’m able to assert myself.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I’m still working on the perfect pair of polymer clay earrings. It seems baking directly on the ceramic tile is for now the way to go. Thankfully, some people gave me som advice on how to prevent air bubbles being trapped between the tile and the clay, which would create little (or not so little) dents in my clay. If I baked on paper, I would not get those, but my earrings would consistently get curved, which I think is worse than the small dents I got now that I followed the experts’ advice.

I haven’t turned my earring pieces into actual earrings yet, because the ones I decided to keep look better with silver than gold. I would like to report though that I am so grateful, because a staff’s daughter had some silver-colored earring hooks that she wasn’t using and that she was happy to gift to me. How nice!

How have you been?

Five of My Favorite “Cheat” Foods #5Things

Hi everyone. Today I’m participating in the #5Things challenge, for which the topic today is “cheat day” foods. Now I don’t really do cheat days. I do usually have more high-calorie foods on weekends than week days, just because it’s easier to keep track that way, but there’s not a single day when I completely indulge in whatever I want. I have a history of disordered eating, including binges, but I am determined I never want to return to those days.

I also don’t believe in “good” or “bad” foods. Rather, I believe in healthy and less healthful habits. I had it written on my food plan, for this reason, that no food is completely forbidden. Else, less familiar with me staff might say that a food isn’t on my food plan so I can’t have it.

Anyway, today I’m listing five of my favorite foods to have on a day when I’m less conscious of my diet.

1. Pizza. Every once in a while, when I go to my husband’s and my house in Lobith, my husband will drive by Domino’s on our way from picking me up at the care facility. I love their pizzas. I also love the pizzas from my neighborhood Italian restaurant. Both are a definite nine out of ten on the deliciousness scale. (For those visiting from #5Things, my dietitian a few weeks ago explained that, if I don’t give a “cheat” food an eight out of ten or above on how much I love it, I may consider not eating it at all.)

2. Pringles. These are by far my favorite chips and they too score at least a nine out of ten. My care home recently ordered like a whole box full of Pringles cans at the supermarket because they were on sale. Yum!

3. Cheese twists. These are sticks made of puff pastry with cheese flavor. My husband buys them at the supermarket almost every time I go to Lobith.

4. Licorice. When I still suffered with disordered eating, I would often buy a bag of licorice multiple times a week and consume the whole thing within ten to twenty minutes. Now, I usually have a bag of licorice in my locked kitchen cupboard. The staff aren’t allowed to actually prohibit me from eating the candies, but the fact that they’re locked away does keep me from being tempted too quickly. I usually have three or four candies a day at most.

5. French fries. I don’t have these often anymore, as when we do get takeout food here at the care facility, it’s usually Chinese or Italian because it’s easier to blend for those who have difficulty eating solids. However, I truly love love love good fries! There’s a snack corner here in town who put “special” orange spices over their fries and they’re delicious. (I bet it’s just paprika, but they refuse to disclose their “secret recipe”, even though it’s public knowledge that they don’t mix their own spices.) I also love some spicy snacks to go with my fries. Here in the Netherlands, there’s one called a mexicano, which I think is particularly tasty.

What are your favorite “cheat” foods?

I Am Overweight!

Hi everyone. Today I’m joining Di of Pensitivity101 for Saturday Swapit, a weekly weight loss meme. I am not intending for this to become a weekly feature, but, because I had a dietitian’s appointment yesterday, I wanted to share some things I learned.

First though, I have a major win to share: when stepping on the scale yesterday, it told me I’m now 70.1kg. This means I’ve crossed the line back from obese to just plain overweight! I did kind of trivialize the achievement by saying it’s the absolute minimum I had to lose to cross this line and hence I may be back into the obese category next week. That may be so, but I did lose 1.7kg since starting on my food plan five weeks ago. That may not sound like much, but I’d rather lose the weight slowly and keep it off than lose more weight only to gain it all back and then some.

Like I said, I’m doing my healthy eating plan under a dietitian’s supervision. The main goal is not weight loss, but relative mental stability with respect to food and a healthy eating structure. You see, I have a history of bulimic tendencies and had a slip-up with respect to purging just before Christmas. Every opportunity to eat still leads to inner conflict.

With respect to this, the dietitian taught me about my negative and positive voices: the healthy-eating voice vs. the bulimic voice. Even if you’re not bulimic, you’ll likely recognize some of the disordered things the negative voice is telling me, such as that, if you’ve eaten a “bad” food, now the day’s gone to waste and you can just as easily call it a cheat day and binge eat whatever you want. The reality is, though, each healthy food choice will ultimately contribute to your weight loss (or other healthy lifestyle goal).

Another thought is that you have to make up for one small treat by restricting on another food. The idea that this thought is unhealthy, may contradict the previous one, but, in reality, it’s all about balance. If you’ve had one small treat that’s not on your food plan in the morning, it doesn’t mean the day’s gone to waste, but it doesn’t mean you need to be restricting or making up for it later in the day either. It doesn’t mean you can have said treat each and every day, of course. Your food plan is there for a reason, after all.

Another thing I asked the dietitian about is late evening snacking. I have a serving of fruit on my food plan in the evening. My staff felt that, for practical reasons, it’d be best if they’d offer it to me at 9:15PM. I countered that, since this is pretty close to my bedtime, I wouldn’t burn it off then. Thankfully, the dietitian was able to reassure me that people’s digestion works 24 hours a day. It’s a myth that late evening snacking causes you not to burn off the calories you consume!

Share Four Somethings (January 2022)

Hi everyone. Can you believe it’s almost the end of January already? I can’t wait for this month to be over with, honestly. February can be depressing too, but not as depressing as January. At least then the weather may start to warm up a little. Let’s hope! Anyway, today I’m joining Share Four Somethings. I think I joined this link-up once before, but am hoping to make it a regular habit now that it’s a new format. Here goes.

Something Loved

Essential oils. Yay, my three new oils arrived today! Though I haven’t tried them out yet, I will certainly be doing so soon. One, lemon, isn’t really new, but I’d had to throw out the old bottle because it’d gone past its shelf life. This really should be a motivator to use my essential oils more often. The other two, spearmint and sweet marjoram, I haven’t used before.

Something Gleaned

Honestly, I had to Google the definition of “glean”, so I could say I gleaned the meaning of the word. I guess my English isn’t as good as I’d like to say it is.

Seriously though, I have been reading the Bible everyday since January 1. While 24 days isn’t my longest streak ever by far, I do find that the more I study God’s Word, the more I learn. My most recent realization came from the story about the Bible passage I mentioned yesterday. The pastor sharing the story about the passage said that “favor” in Psalms 30:5 could also be translated as “grace”. This, until then, I’d always seen as a decidedly New Testamental term. Then again, I now am beginning to see that the Bible isn’t really strictly divided between OT and NT, but it’s all one story leading to Jesus. To those of my readers who’ve been believers for longer than I have been, this may seem obvious. To me, it’s a big eye-opener.

Something Braved

Well, as regular readers of my blog will know, this month was quite hard. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and PTSD symptoms. Even though one of my medications, topiramate, which specifically works to combat trauma-related symptoms, was upped earlier this month, I’m not yet noticing the change. On the contrary, in fact, it looks like I’m doing a little worse. That is, I might be noticing a slight positive change over the past few days, but it’s so early on that it’s hard to know for sure and I’m not sure whether the change is positive compared to how I did on my old dosage too. I thankfully will have an extra appointment with my nurse practitioner on Thursday to discuss how things are going.

Something Achieved

Two somethings here, is that okay? First, I have been writing more frequently and more widely than I did before. I am really proud of myself for this, as it is actually one of only a few ways in which I’m still staying active lately. Due to my anxiety, after all, I’m struggling to try new things such as crafting or even to go for a walk. However, I do try out new writing techniques and that’s something at least.

The other achievement is my diet. I started on a healthier eating plan with the help of a dietitian early in the month. Not with the aim of losing weight, although it would be great if I could lose the 1.5kg I need to lose to no longer be obese. My main goal is to experience less inner conflict about eating, as I have a history of eating disorder symptoms. So far, I’m sticking to it pretty well. More importantly, the one day when I couldn’t fully stick to the plan, because we had Chinese takeout, I didn’t resort to eating disorder behaviors. That’s quite an accomplishment!

Abstinence

I bought yet another collection of journaling prompts, this one faith-based. It is called Journal-a-Day the Titus 2 Way and is about growing in Godly womanhood. Not all prompts apply to me. For instance, the ones that center on life as a wife or mother, for the most part, don’t. I mean, of course I am married, but I don’t live with my husband. However, Paul also instructs Titus to teach the women to stay away from addictive substances or practices. As such, one of the prompts in the book is a one-word prompt: sober.

I don’t drink alcohol. In this sense, the prompt does not apply to me either. However, sobriety can refer to other addictions too. In Overeaters Anonymous, it is called abstinence.

I have never liked abstinence-based eating disorder recovery programs like OA. I like to blame the fact that I struggle not just with overeating, but with purging and occasional restricting too. The real reason is though that I don’t want to give up foods I’m addicted to altogether. And, taking Paul’s letter to Titus literally, I don’t have to. After all, the Bible verse states: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” (Titus 2:3 NIV)

For this reason, I wonder, is it really God’s plan, as OA seems to think, that we abstain from addictive foods altogether? Doesn’t Paul write “much wine” for a reason?

I have a problem with the idea that, if you just admit that you’re powerless over your substance, you will – no, should – become sober through submitting to God. Not with the submitting to God part, but with the requirement of complete sobriety, which is human-made. Jesus as far as I’m concerned didn’t abstain completely from alcohol and if refined sugar had existed in His time, He’d probably consumed it too. Shouldn’t the goal be self-control instead?

I pray that God provides me with direction as I navigate my journey towards recovery from disordered eating. I pray that He will help me submit to His will, whatever this may be. Yes, even if this is complete abstinence from sugar, snacks inbetween meals and all other things OA says we need to abstain from. Amen!

I’m linking up with Let’s Have Coffee.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 26, 2020)

Hi all on this summerly late Sunday evening – or should I say early night, as it’s actually past my bedtime right now? I’m still wide awake though, so thought I’d join in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. It’s too late for me to grab a coffee, but if you’d like one, I can make you one.

If we were having coffee, I would share that we were supposed to get heavy rain here today. We got some light rain in the morning and did get rain at night, but overall, it’s been a pretty rain-free day. I got to take an evening walk at 9PM. That suited the staff, as most other clients are in bed by then.

If we were having coffee, of course I’d share that I got approved for a higher care profile last Thursday. This means that the facility gets more money for me and they might be able to get some extra staff hours in. I found the letter detailing the decision in my government inbox on Friday. It was a bit hard to read how challenging my behavior really is. This care profile is called “living with very intensive support and very intensive care” and is the highest care profile for people with visual impairment.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I made another keychain, this one for my husband. I like this one more than I do the one I did for my sister-in-law. My staff got the heart-shaped keyrings at a budget store.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that after Tuesday’s appt with my nurse practitioner, I’ve been feeling at the same time more out of sorts and more feisty than ever. I do know there’s a great risk that, if I get assessed for trauma-related symptoms, the assessor will deny I have them because I’m too open about my trauma. However, a lot of people in dissociative disorder groups have been validating my experience. Of course, I’ll need a diagnosis of at least (C-)PTSD to get treatment and the prejudices among professionals suck in this respect. However, I’m feeling more and more that I may’ve found a community I belong to and find that I can access support from them.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m feeling similarly about my body and food. I mean, I at once feel very disorganized and disordered, and at the same time I’m trying to do something about it. Not that it’s any more than just trying at this point. I mean, I just noticed how my jeans fit a little better around my waistline, and that’s not a good thing, as they were rather loose. This upsets me, but it’s quite a challenge getting all of me to agree on how to change it.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that this week-end wasn’t quite the healthy food week-end. On Friday, we had French fries and snacks and ice cream for dessert. I also ate a whole bag of sweet liquorice between Thursday and Saturday. That though is a win, in that I’d normally have eaten it all in one sitting. I guess I’ll need to dialogue with myselves to get us on the same page re healthier living.

How have you been?

A New Client Came to Our Home

Trigger warning: mentions eating disorder behaviors
So a new client came to our care home yesterday. It was completely unexpected also to the staff. They didn’t hear she was coming till Friday evening. She has some form of brain injury, dementia and she broke her hip, which is why she had to come here. She lived independently until this. She seems okay, but due to her dementia she needs a lot of support. This did upset some of us, particularly Rachelle. It completely wrecked with her sense of structure and also the trust she had in the staff.

Today we had an Easter dinner. We had had the choice between pizza or fries. We chose pizza, but weren’t sure about it after all, as everyone else got fries. This further upset us, particularly Agnes. Agnes was feeling off, so she wanted to binge, but the staff prevented her, saying she was full already. This led her to a teenage tantrum.

Then once we talked to her about the importance of sticking to a somewhat healthy diet, she wanted to purge. Thankfully we were able to talk her out of it. Then however Rachelle took over again, with me (Eleanor) being present too. We were able to articulate our feelings to some extent.

Part of the problem is Agnes wants to be independent and make her own choices, including unhealthy ones, but Rachelle really needs more support than we’re currently getting. Thisdispute between them was also triggered by the new client getting pracctically one-on-one support all day, while we were in our room by ourself a lot. There is an extra staffer for the new woman, but we still feel like a burden.

We talked to our assigned staff about maybe making some form of communication cards that don’t require speech, so that Rachelle (and others) can ask for help when we can’t quite talk. We also talked about us getting a more structured daily routine particularly on week-ends.

We’re not sure this will help, but we’ll see.

Eleanor with some others chiming in here and there

Working On Us Prompt: If Disordered Eating Isn’t About Food or Weight

Today, I am once again joining in with the Working On Us Prompt. I hope the link works, as it once again gave me an error 404 when I tried to visit it. There are really two question prompts for this week’s Working On Us. I may post a separate post about the second question. The first asks what if eating disorders aren’t about food or weight? What are they about?

As a person with disordered eating tendencies, I can totally empathize with this question. I mean, yes, I am obese, but that in itself doesn’t qualify you for help with disordered eating other than a monthly kick in the ass from a dietitian. Well, that just isn’t enough for me.

Then again, I was told by my psychiatrist that I do not have an eating disorder, because the amount of food I eat during a “binge” isn’t big enough. Well, I understand. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my relationship with food or weight.

Because that is really what disordered eating is all about: the relationship we have to food and our bodies. It isn’t about how much you eat, how much you weigh, or how often you exercise. It’s about the thoughts that go on in your mind.

For clarity’s sake: at the time that I was told I do not have an eating disorder, I was in the early stages of recovery from purging, which in itself does warrant an eating disorder not otherwise specified diagnosis. I was never fully bulimic, but I was coming close. That’s not my point though.

I struggle a lot with disordered thoughts about food and my weight. In fact, I think about food the majority of the time and those thoughts are not usually healthy.

Once, when I read a book about someone with an eating disorder, her psychiatrist suspected she was an alcoholic too. She administered a simple screening tool, which asked whether the girl had tried to cut back on alcohol, was getting annoyed or angry when people commented on her drinking, ever had alcohol first thing in the morning, and then there was another question. She answered “Yes” to three out of four questions. Well, I can answer yes to the three I remembered here when substituting alcohol with food. I occasionally overeat first thing in the morning, have very regularly and unsuccessfully tried to control my food intake, and I do get angry like all the freakin’ time when someone makes a comment about my food-related habits.

Yes, I knnow that to the outside observer, I appear like just an unmotivated, overindulgent fatass. What they don’t see are the inner battles I fight each and every day to deal with my disordered eating tendencies.

My Relationship with Food

Today, I’m paging through the eBook Journal Writing Prompts for Child Abuse Survivors. It is definitely worth it. One of the prompts, in the third chapter, which deals with shame, is about your relationship with food. I am going to write about that today.

I am fat. There I said it. I am no longer obese, fortunately, but I still need to lose over 20lbs to be at a healthy BMI. Besides, my body fat is concentrated primarily on my stomach, which means it’s all the more dangerous for my long-term physical health.

I have a long history of disordered eating. When I was around 14, I “wanted” to develop an eating disorder. No, I didn’t read pro-anorexia sites, though I probably would have had I had access to the Internet back then. I didn’t really want to have anorexia, but I wanted badly to overcome the painful relationship with food I had by this time, and my way of doing so was to develop an even more harmful attitude towards it.

The origin of this even more harmful attitude was probably shame. My parents would regularly yell at me for eating too much and I badly wanted to break this habit, but I didn’t knowhow.

I didn’t stop overeating, but I started obsessing over how it’d make me fat. I started keeping food logs and commenting on how much I’d eaten, but it didn’t help me actually stop overeating.

I remember at one time calculating my BMI, which was a little above 20 at the time. I thought that should soothe my mind and it did in a way. I wasn’t fat, after all. Looking back, I now realize said BMI calculator was geared towards adults and a BMI over 20 is in fact overweight for a teen.

I never developed a full-blown eating disorder, even though a part of me engaged in a lot of disordered eating patterns, including purging, up till fairly recently. In fact, this part of me – she’s called Agnes – was the one reasoning last Wednesday that diarrhea is a good thing because it helps me lose weight.

I’ve had a fairly normal relationship with food over the past year or so. At least in terms of behaviors. I no longer purge, rarely overeat and do exercise regularly. However, like I said above, my thought patterns are still pretty disordered.