Q&A: Food Guilt, Veganism and Carbs

Do you really eat everything that you post? How does Veganism affect your eating disorder? How are you really feeling? They were all questions which I answered in August’s monthly Q&A over on my Instagram stories.

I always get requests asking me to write my Q&A answers as a blog post too and seen as it went down so well when I trialed it last month, I thought that I would do the same for August’s.

You can watch and listen to me answering all of these questions over on my Instagram highlights as well.

Part 1

Life

Q1. Dream job?

I wouldn’t say that I exactly have a dream job or career in mind but at the moment my plan is to go back to college in September to complete an Access To Higher Education course, with the hope of getting in to Uni next year.

With regards to Uni, I think I want to study something along the lines of PR, Media, Journalism or Marketing.

Q2. What make up do you use? You always look flawless

I use a range of products from drugstore to higher end brands, but most of my collection is drugstore.

As far as my base goes, my foundation is the Maybelline dream satin and I also use their setting spray along with the Collection lasting perfection concealer.

Q3. Tips for starting a food blog?

Consistency and authenticity are key.

Q4. What are 5 facts about you that aren’t related to your mental health?

  1. I’m 20 years old
  2. I’m from Cheshire, UK
  3. I have a Shih Tzu called Maisie
  4. I have 3 tattoos
  5. I like Gin

I’m not entirely sure where that last one came from…

Q5. Have you been to other countries?

I’m not very well traveled but it’s something that I definitely want to do more of. So far I’ve been to Spain, France and Greece.

Q6. Top 3 places that you want to travel to?

  1. America
  2. Bora Bora
  3. Santorini, Greece

Recovery

Q7. How are you really feeling at the moment?

I actually feel as if I’m in a pretty good place at the moment, but it’s definitely a mixture of emotions.

I’ve had a bit of a wobble with body image over the past few days but I feel like I have it under control – I’m reminding myself of all of the reasons that it’s OK to gain weight and the fact that it’s necessary for my overall health.

I’m still really struggling with extreme hunger, which is affecting me both physically and mentally. I feel as if I’m being tortured by my own body and my mind is constantly thinking about food and on countdown to the next meal or snack.

But at the same time I’m not letting either of those things deter me. I still feel so positive, motivated and determined. I’m taking every opportunity possible to go for the harder option and I’m consistently challenge myself every day.

Even my dietitian said earlier this week that she’s so impressed with how determined and strong I am and that when we first met that’s not what she’d expected from me at all and I have to agree. I don’t know where this strength, determination or motivation came from but I’m so bloody proud of myself!

Q8. What foods have you rediscovered and enjoyed since embarking on recovery?

Carbs! A good Warburton’s seeded batch loaf (with all of the gluten), sandwiches, bagels, Weetabix and Shreddies!

Q9. Can you talk about where your fear of carbs came from?

I started losing weight in 2014/15 when clean eating and macro counting were at their most popular. There was a lot of scare mongering and demonizing of carbs at the time, which led me to develop an unhealthy obsession with avoiding them. Up until that point I’d completely lived off of carbs, but I cut them out completely – bread, cereals, rice, pasta and even fruit and veg.

Q10. How do you know that you’re at your lowest weight if you haven’t known your weight in 3 years?

I was diagnosed with Anorexia in 2015 at which point I knew my weight. I knew my weight up until September 2016, when I discharged myself from the ED service. During this time, my lowest weight had been in January 2016, when I was admitted to hospital.

From the September on wards, I was only ever weighed at doctors appointments and not regularly. I always asked to be blind weighed.

Starting at the adult ED service in July, I still requested to be blind weighed. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I found out my weight and was shocked at just how much I had lost in the past 3 years, as it was the same as when I was admitted to hospital.

Q11. Would you say that not knowing your weight for such a long time helped you in recovery?

I’m not sure that it necessarily helped, but I think that for a long time it was something that I would have found triggering.

Q12. How do you cope with guilt?

My new motto is that if I feel guilty then I know that I’ve done something right because I’ve pissed off Anorexia. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to feel guilty about our food or exercise choices at all, but it’s an inevitable part of recovery.

It’s only natural to feel uncomfortable – if you feel comfortable all of the time then I would probably say that you’re not challenging yourself enough. It would be a whole lot easier to avoid the guilt completely, but that momentary discomfort is so worth it in the long run if you want to get your life back.

I’m learning to be more comfortable with the feeling of guilt, because it’s during those times that I know that I’ve challenged myself and am making process. Plus you just have to keep in mind that it is temporary.

Q13. Are you currently counting calories? I can’t seem to stop.

I’m not counting calories however recently I have become more calorie aware which is something that I hate. To stop counting them I think the best approach really is to go cold turkey and stop overnight, as that’s what I did. You soon realise that nothing bad happens and that you really don’t need to, plus it makes preparing and eating food a whole lot less complicated and time consuming.

Q14. How are you going with weight gain? How to deal with it?

Due to the extreme hunger and the signs that I was getting from my body, I stopped the ‘small increases to make me feel better, without necessarily gaining weight’ approach. I definitely wasn’t physically feeling any better from these changes and my body was telling me that it needed more food and to gain weight now, so I’ve had to listen to and honor it and do just that.

In the past few weeks I have gained a significant amount of weight as a result, although some of it is also fluid from the Oedema. And I’m actually coping OK with it. It’s not easy seeing my body change and my body image has had a bit of a wobble over the past few days but recently I’ve developed more of a care free attitude towards both food and my body.

I see the number on the scales going up but I wouldn’t say that it necessarily upsets me. I’ve become accepting of weight gain. I’ve wasted so much time and energy on fighting it, that now I’m at a point where I know that I need to let my body do what it wants. The only part that is annoying is that I physically don’t feel more energised, but hopefully that’s something that will come with time.

It helps me to remind myself of all of the reasons that I have to gain weight and all of things that I’ve achieved in the past couple of months. I know that being in a bigger body will enable me to live the life and achieve all of the things that I truly want.

Whilst I’ve never seen my true adult body, I roughly know how my body carries weight. I’m supposed to wobble when I walk! And at this point, I would so much rather that than be any smaller and miserable.

Q15. Any tips on finding real motivation that you connect with in recovery?

Starting a recovery journal is something that really helped me. I dedicated a section to motivating factors and reasons to recover which is definitely useful to come back to.

Q16. Do you ever eat anything off plan?

I’m not on a specific meal plan, but I do eat 7 times a day. At the moment I haven’t eaten anything outside of those times, but it’s definitely something that I want to start challenging.

Q17. How to prevent comparing yourself to your old body?

In terms of comparing yourself to your smaller body, I’m personally at a point where I look back at myself a couple of months ago and think that I looked disgusting. I also remember how unhappy I was and it’s definitely not something that I want to go back to.

I find it helps to remind yourself of all the things that the body that your in right now enables you to do. You’re probably a whole lot healthier and happier than when you were smaller and that’s worth so much more than a certain size. And remember that our bodies aren’t supposed to stay the same – they’re obviously going to change as we go through life. You’re fine as you are and you don’t need to go back.

Most importantly, you’re so much more than just your body.

Q18. How does Veganism influence your eating disorder and vice versa?

This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently as it keeps being mentioned by my Dietitian. I’ve always been adamant about the fact that my choice to become Vegan was for all of the right reasons, but recently I’ve realised that it’s definitely been influenced by both Anorexia and Orthorexia.

Likewise, I think Veganism does hold me back a little in terms of recovery. And I would be lying to you if I didn’t admit to over the past few months eating a number of non-Vegan foods.

For example in May I had the biggest craving for a Pizza Hut cheesy bites pizza – to the point where it was all that I could think about 24/7. So I had to honor my body and eat it. I wasn’t prepared to let the craving go any further just because there wasn’t a Vegan option. And I don’t feel guilty or regret eating it either. I know that I have to listen to my body and put my own mental health first.

Q19. How is you sleep during recovery?

Not great. I can’t remember the last time that I slept through the night. I struggle to fall asleep because of the extreme hunger, it wakes me in the night and I wake up early with it so I’m very tired!

Q20. Did you find out why you have jaundice?

Luckily I don’t have jaundice.

Q21. How to deal with eating when others aren’t?

This is something that I definitely find triggering. I have to remember that right now I’m in a starved body and to get it to a point where it’s healthy and happy again, it’s necessary for me to eat 7 times a day.

I understand that it can make you feel guilty or as if you’re eating too much, but it’s not an excuse to restrict or skip. If my mum had put her body through the same thing for example, then she too would need to do the same. Luckily she hasn’t, so it means that she’s able to follow more of a ‘normal’ eating pattern.

Concentrate on the fact that you’re recovering – what’s appropriate for a ‘normal’ person isn’t for you. We need to eat more and more regularly in order to repair our bodies. Food is your medicine!

Q22. How to deal with or get over eating according to specific time frames, such as intermittent fasting, when in recovery?

I’ve never used intermittent fasting myself, but it’s something that I hear a lot of people talking about and at times my ED does creep in and make me question if it’s ‘right’ for me to be eating so frequently or over such an extended period of time.

I just remember that what’s appropriate for ‘normal’ eaters, isn’t for me right now as I’m in recovery. I need to be eating every couple of hours and from fairly early to quite late in the day. It’s what’s necessary for my body – to help heal and re-nourish it.

In my opinion, time restricted eating definitely isn’t appropriate in recovery and more likely than not is another way of your ED taking control. I try and focus on what my body needs right now. Maybe later down the line when I don’t have a disordered relationship with food or my body it could be an option, but for now it’s not appropriate.

Q23. Since increasing your food have you struggled with bloating? How do you cope?

Yes – I seem to gradually inflate throughout the day! Bloating is something that I experienced when I started recovery the first time too. I used to find it so triggering and distressing as it definitely doesn’t help when it comes to body image and I still do struggle with it to an extent.

I’m way more accepting of it now that I was. It’s a common, normal part of recovery and really the only way round it is to carry on eating as normal, increase when necessary and get your body to a point where it’s happy and healthy. Unfortunately it’s something that I’ve found only gets better with time.

Q24. Do you struggle more with Anorexia or Orthorexia?

I have a whole blog post dedicated to my experience with Orthorexia, but I definitely struggle more with Anorexia.

That being said, over the past couple of weeks I’ve really realised just how Orthorexic I had become and that there are definitely aspects of it that I still struggle with.

Q25. How do you deal with other people complaining about weight gain or talking about diets?

It’s hard to trying to recover when you’re constantly bombarded by diet culture and a world that seems so fixated on losing weight. In all honesty I just have to try my best to ignore it – although it is particularly annoying when the comments are made by family or friends and they know what you’re going through.

Try to focus on yourself, remember that you’re at at a different point in your life and what’s appropriate for them isn’t for you. Weight gain definitely isn’t a bad thing!

Q26. What are somethings that you want to do or try when you’re more recovered?

One of the main things motivating me to recover is that I want to go to Uni next year. I would also love to be a BEAT ambassador which I know that you have to be recovered to do and I want to travel more as well.

Q27. When did you reach rock bottom with your ED and how did you find a way out?

In May this year, I felt the lowest that I’d ever felt and it’s a place that I never go back to. I knew that I’d lost weight and I was so scared that Anorexia was going to kill me. I was depressed and thought that ending it all would be easier than fighting it. But at the same time, there was part of me that wanted to recover – I realised that Anorexia had stolen far too much of my life and I wasn’t prepared to let it take another year from me.

I returned to the GP to ask for a referral to the ED service and contacted a dietitian. At that point I was still on the edge of recovery and relapse – I wanted to get better, but I didn’t really want to change or put on weight.

I started a recovery journal which is something that started to help. I don’t know exactly what it was, but suddenly there was a huge switch in my mindset and I’m at the point that I’m at now. I slowly started to believe that I can beat this and I’m so motivated and determined to do exactly that.

I explain this more in my Are You Ever Ready To Recover? post.

Q28. Any tips for tackling fear foods?

The only way to tackle them is to eat them, as scary as it might be. And you have to make sure that you repeat the challenge to – eat them consistently a couple of times a week until you become comfortable with them and can enjoy them ‘normally.’ If you only try it once then it definitely remains a fear!

I find that challenging foods with my Mum is something that helps, as it reiterates that it’s perfectly OK and ‘normal’ to eat these foods.

Food

Q29. Do you really eat everything that you post?

I always get asked this but feel the need to answer it every time. I 100% eat everything that I post, if anything I eat more. There are always extra toppings added to my breakfast bowls and more often than not there’s a part of the meal that I don’t show. I’m definitely not one to leave food on my plate either!

Q30. What’s your favourite nut butter?

Definitely peanut butter and I literally want to add it to everything at the moment! Two of my favourites are Mani Life – I’m currently obsessed with their creamy deep roast peanut butter and Pip & Nut.

Q31. What’s your favourite fruit?

My favourites are bananas, dates, strawberries and raspberries. Or my newest obsession is dried figs – drenched in peanut butter of course!

Q32. Would you consider posting some of your lunches please?

I definitely want to start sharing more of my meals and snacks. As I add even more variety and increase my food further it’s something that I’ll become more comfortable doing.

Q33. Do you feel pressure to make your food look aesthetically pleasing?

Yes and this is why I recently posted a caption talking about the topic of eating for Instagram.

I feel a pressure to make my bowls look perfect (in comparison to a lot of people’s they’re nowhere near), for the background and lighting to always be the same or for the toppings to be perfectly arranged. It’s something that I’ve found is taking up too much of my mental energy and time. I need to start making my food choices and eating for myself more, rather than for an Instagram picture or likes.

That’s why now I want take it back a step and be a little more authentic with my posts. I want to post because I genuinely WANT to, not because I feel a pressure to, or as if it’s a chore. I’m hoping that being more spontaneous and authentic will put some of the fun and enjoyment in to posting for me too.

Pretty food is definitely appealing to the eye, but taste is so much more important.

Keep up to date with my Instagram stories so that you know when I’m doing my next Q&A or leave any questions that you want answered in the comments below.

You can watch my previous Q&A’s here:

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Hi, I'm Yasmin! Plant based recipe developer and certified health and wellness influencer. I share simple, nourishing plant based recipes along with tips on healthy living, mental health and well being, in the hope that I can inspire others to be the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves.

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