June 22, 2013
I found this poem the other day and though it wasn’t written to be related to recovery from eating disorders specifically, it struck a chord with me and I wanted to share it with you.
Poem Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault… I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
June 17, 2013
This is a guest post by Cole Millen of Cole’s Mill, a blog about health and travelling.
Going on vacation is lot of fun, and many people consider it to be an opportunity to let loose and put everything else on the back burner, which often also includes their healthy eating habits. Your vacation can still be fun while exercising good self-control, watching portion sizes and being choosy about what you eat. Here are some tips for having a healthy vacation.
On the Road
If you’re travelling by car, then you’re going to need something to distract you from the wealth of fast food restaurants that are available. Although they’re convenient, the fare they offer is heavily processed and low in nutritional value. Furthermore, it’s extremely high in sugar, salt and other things you don’t need an overdose of. Instead, consider bringing a cooler with you and stocking it with nutritious, healthy snacks. Salads, nuts, yoghurt, milk and fresh fruit and sandwiches with whole-grain bread are all excellent choices that will keep you nourished and satisfied until you reach your destination.
At the Hotel
When you’re looking for a hotel, try to choose one that doesn’t have a minibar. This is just a needless temptation that can also cost you a lot of extra money. Furthermore, ask the hotel manager what kinds of foods you can expect to see at the continental breakfast, if there is one. Beware of things like waffles, pancakes and pastries. Focus instead on yoghurt, oatmeal, eggs, whole-grain toast and fresh fruit, if it’s available. Room service is another area where caution is necessary. It’s important to be as specific as possible with your order to ensure the healthiest possible meal. In most cases, hotel and restaurant staff will be happy to oblige you. It can be difficult to determine prior to booking whether or not the hotel offers the specific amenities and services you need. I have found that a little due diligence goes a long way in this regard. I was recently researching for a healthy conscious hotel in the middle of the buffet ridden Sin City and found a site that listed reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding their personal services and amenities as well the restaurants in the nearby area. This made it easier than ever to ensure I would be able to maintain my healthy lifestyle even in the unhealthiest of places. (You can find the same information on that site on hotels in different cities when you search your vacation spot.)
What fun is a vacation without enjoying some of local restaurants? Some places are known for their cuisine, and it would be a shame not to taste some of it. However, you must still consider your choices. With beverages, opt for water or milk instead of soda or sweetened tea. Avoiding mixed alcoholic drinks is also recommended, as they are usually full of sugar. When browsing the menu, watch out for foods that look or sound excessively decadent. Whenever possible, go for items that are steamed, baked, boiled, grilled or stir-fried. They’ll contain a lot fewer calories and a lot more nutrition. You may even want to cut your meal in half upon receiving it, and ask for the other half to be put in a doggy bag. If you still find yourself hungry after eating the first half, then go ahead and finish it up. Often times we over eat simply because it is on our plates but if we immediately cut the portion you can save yourself some calories as well as a belly ache.
If you’ve planned any activities that will keep you away from your hotel room for an extended period of time, it may be necessary to accommodate your meals and snacks accordingly. A cooler full of healthy goodies can be a big help for a day at the beach. Dried fruit and nuts, peanut butter and jerky are great for a backpacking trip through the woods. Choose snacks that will still be fresh and tasty even after being in your backpack for hours. Make sure to take plenty of water with you as well. Staying properly hydrated will help keep your metabolism up and will also help you avoid any unpleasant side effects of being in the sun and wind for long periods.
These are some simple steps that you can follow to ensure that while you are on vacation you can have the best time possible while also maintaining your healthy lifestyle. Did I miss any? Please share your tips for sticking to healthy eating habits while travelling!
June 14, 2013
It’s finally summer in my neck of the woods, which always makes it seem so much easier to me to eat more fruit. I think most fruits are most delicious in summer, so if you’ve been wanting to add more fruit to your diet, this is the best time. Aim for a wide variety to get the most nutrition and taste out of it!
To add variety, you can set yourself the goal of eating one new kind of fruit you’ve never tasted every week. You can also add variety in the ways you eat your fruit. Here’s 10 ways to enjoy more fruit this summer:
- Smoothies & Fruit Juice
Fresh orange juice is my favourite, and it’s so easy to squeeze a few oranges! For a delicious smoothie, puree some strawberries and bananas and mix it with some milk or yoghurt, or for a pure fruit smoothie mix orange juice with pureed strawberries and mango.
- Healthy frozen snacks
Squeeze or puree your chosen fruit, mix it with some water or milk, pour it into some ice pop molds and put them in the freezer. Delicious for those hot summer days!
- Adding fruit to your breakfast.
Mix some berries or sliced banana through yoghurt or cereal.
Berries are also delicious on top of pancakes or waffles.
- Adding fruit to a salad
Mix chopped oranges and mango with lettuce for a delicious summer salad.
For a sweeter salad, mix some strawberries, diced mango or pineapple with lettuce and walnuts.
- Adding fruit to desserts.
Add berries, sliced banana or diced peaches on top of icecream or mix through yoghurt.
- Mixing fruit through pasta dishes
Try pasta with some berries mixed through it, or add oranges, grapes or chopped melon and mango to your pasta dish.
- Add fruit in or on top of baked goods
If you’re like me and love to bake, try your hand at banana bread, mix some blueberries or strawberries through the muffin dough, add berries or chopped fruit as decoration on top of cupcakes, or try dried apricot cookies. Yum!
- Add fruit slices to sandwiches
Add thin apple slices to your sandwiches, or add banana slices to your peanutbutter sandwich for a little extra fruit.
- Fruit & chocolate dip
I believe having a healthy relationship with food includes enjoying some previously “guilty pleasures” guilt-free. I don’t believe in restriction, but moderation instead. If your guilty pleasure is chocolate, I say do eat it, just in moderation. Dip some strawberries in melted chocolate to add a bit of fruit to your chocolate moment.
- Storing ready-to-go fruit in the fridge.
Sometimes it takes just a little bit too much time to wash and cut fruit, making it tempting to reach for more convenient, less healthy snacks instead. Prepare some fruit in the evening, store it in a portion container in the fridge overnight and take it to work the next day.
What’s your favourite way to add more fruit to your diet?
October 28, 2012
You self destructive,
Pick yourself up,
Don’t blame the world.
So you screwed up,
But you’re gonna be okay.
Maria Mena — All This Time
I relapsed. I binged. Things can be hard to cope with, relapse happens sometimes. That’s okay. Don’t punish yourself for it, instead learn from it and move on.
Looking back on it, I wonder if I should even call it a binge. I did not feel completely out-of-control like I used to, and didn’t eat nearly as much as I used to during a binge. Still it felt like a binge somehow. I ate more than I would feel good about, because I wanted to numb my feelings. I’ve had similar situations before where I ate too much to numb my emotions, but I haven’t in a long time felt the need to purge after. I wanted to make myself throw up, I even went into the bathroom and sat down next to the toilet. But I stopped myself. It felt really empowering to be able to at least stop there.
It was still a set-back, making me wonder if I should be writing about body image at all. Who am I to write about healthy body image and a healthy relationship with food if I can’t practise what I preach?
But you know what, relapse happens. And I want to write about it because acknowledging it might help somebody else. Denying it is not going to help me nor anybody else.
It’s not the end, and it’s not even back to the starting point. Yes, I ate more than I would be okay with. But it was nowhere near the amount of a real binge. And I didn’t purge.
Even if you do relapse with a full-out binge, and even if you do purge, it’s still not the end. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve been able to keep up a healthy eating pattern at least for some time. Yes, you relapsed, and no matter how hard it is, the best thing you can do now is accept and move on. You do not need to punish yourself for it. Accept that it happened, but start your healthy eating pattern back up immediately. After some days have passed, then look back on it and learn from it.
August 25, 2012
Note: This post is about losing weight, but I do not think anyone needs to lose weight to be able to live a healthy and happy life unless there really is a medical reason. However, if you feel you need to lose weight for whatever reason, I want you to do so in a healthy way, which is what this post is about.
The other day I was out dining with colleagues, my boss and his wife. I started this job in May, and it was the first company dinner I went to for this company. My colleagues had said beforehand that my boss and his wife are all about “healthy” eating and being “fit” and we need to do everything we can to avoid the topic altogether. Just ordering food was enough for them to ramble on about eating no carbs and using something fatty or oily to let alcohol go down easier. I’m personally not drinking alcohol, not for any other reason but just not liking the taste of any alcoholic drinks I’ve tried so far.
One of my colleagues mentioned she didn’t eat potatoes, but just because she doesn’t like the taste much. “Oh, it’s no wonder you’re so slim, then! Carbs are so fattening.” my boss’ wife said.
I’m glad the topic was changed to something else again quickly, because I wouldn’t have been able to keep listening to that without breaking into a mad rant against diets and the so-called “healthy” eating habits.
You lose weight by cutting calories, not cutting out nutrients from your diet.
It’s really not the carbs that are fattening. You may have been on a no-carb diet and lost weight, yes, but it’s not because you’re not eating carbs. It’s because you’re eating less calories overall. Whether you’re eating only salads or only French fries and hamburgers, as long as you eat less calories than you’re burning, you’re losing weight. You can eat more salads because they contain a lot less calories than French fries and burgers, but a diet of only salads is no fun, and you really do not have to deny yourself the pleasure of eating if you want to lose weight.
You can eat everything, just in moderation. This is nothing new, but it seems it’s been forgotten with all the different kinds of diets out there today.
That said, not all calories are created equal nutrition-wise. Food is not just a way of gaining or losing weight, you need the nutrition. No one food contains every single nutrient you need.
Proteins are one of the key building blocks of your body. They help with building and healing body tissue. Athletes usually consume a lot of protein to help build and heal muscle tissue. Meat, eggs, fish, milk (and dairy products) are the biggest source of protein. To a lesser extent, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains and cereals also contain proteins.
Fats are essential as well. They keep your skin and hair healthy, keep your organs safe from shock, maintain your body temperature, and help cells function healthily. Several vitamins can only be digested combined with fats. Unsaturated fats are generally considered to be healthy, while satured fats are deemed unhealthy. Even so, I strongly believe you do not need to scrap them from your diet entirely, just eat in moderation. High in satured fats are cream, cheese, butter and similar products. Unsatured fats can be broken down further into monounsatured and polyunsatured fats, but we don’t need to go into that much detail. Great sources for unsatured fats are red meat, whole milk products, nuts and fatty fruits such as olives and avocados.
There is a huge amount of different kinds of vitamins, and it really goes too far for this post to go into them all. Most have multiple functions and can be found anywhere from fruits and vegetables to meat.
There is a huge variety of minerals as well, with an even greater variety of functions. They can be found anywhere from table salt to dairy to fruits and vegetables to meat.
Water makes up 55% to 78% of your body, depending on sex, age and size. To function properly, your body generally needs around 1.5 and 2 liters per day (about 50 to 67 oz. for my US readers), but it depends on activity, temperature, humidity and other factors. Drinking actual water is great, but it can be consumed from any other drinks as well as foods containing water.
Enjoy eating everything.
You can eat everything and lose weight or be at a healthy weight, when you eat everything in moderation. You need to eat a diversity of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs for healthy functioning. Most nutrients can be found in a huge variety of foods, so if you really don’t like the taste of something, it’s OK to skip that, there’s still a lot of other sources you can get your nutrients from.
July 29, 2012
Even after I was so-called “recovered” from my eating disorder, I still struggled a lot to cope with emotions without using food or starvation in some way. Here are 10 things you can try to handle your emotions and stress, instead of turning to self-destructive behaviour.
1. Talk about it
Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. This has always been and still often is the hardest thing for me to do when I’m emotional or stressed. I don’t want to be a burden to someone else by talking about myself and my feelings. Though often, the person you choose to talk to does not mind at all, they want to hear you out and help you.
Write your feelings in a journal, on your blog, in a letter to someone else, to yourself or even to an imaginary friend. Just getting it out, even if you don’t share it with anyone else, can help you work through it.
3. Draw or paint
In therapy, I also did creative therapy classes regularly. For me, these were one of the most effective parts of therapy. I come from a family of creative types — both professional and hobby-wise, and absolutely love drawing. Don’t worry about what it will look like. Take a pencil or brush and just start drawing or painting. If you like crafting, just taking scissors and cutting (coloured) paper into pieces, then glueing them into a shape on another sheet of paper can be wonderful too. Really, doing anything creative can be great to work through what you’re feeling, so find something you like to do — and do it.
I personally am also really into digital art, but for me it doesn’t work as well as actually drawing with a pencil on paper to work through feelings.
4. Take a walk, go running or bicycling
Sometimes just being outdoors — taking a walk, going running or bicycling — helps you work through your feelings in your mind. I’ve found it’s a great way to clear your head.
5. Sing or make music
I’m personally not very musically inclined, but I do like singing along to my favourite music. Like I said, drawing, painting, crafting, doing anything creative can be great to work through your feelings, and music can do the same so get vocal or start playing your favourite instrument if you’re a music type.
6. Have a pillow-fight with the wall
It’s a really safe way to let anger or frustration out of your system to just hit a pillow against the wall as hard as you can repeatedly. It sounds silly, but try it and you will notice it does really help.
7. Clear clutter
Clearing out clutter can be an absolutely amazing way to work through your feelings. I wanted to say “if you’re calm enough”, but really, just the act of clearing clutting will calm you down if you aren’t. I’ve found working through what you want to keep, give away or just throw away is great for working through your feelings at the same time. So much so, I think I’m getting addicted to it — whenever I want to clear my mind, I start looking for things I can clear out but I have barely anything left that I no longer like or that doesn’t get used.
8. Play a game
For me personally, playing computer games didn’t work so much to work through feelings, but it is a great way to take your mind off things. Afterwards, just because you found distraction and spent some time not thinking about it, things will not seem as bad as before. Be careful though, computer games can be addictive so set a time for yourself, like an hour, and stop playing when that time is over. I don’t want you to go from one bad way of coping with emotions (starving, bingeing and purging or overeating) to another (getting addicted to gaming).
9. Listen to music
There’s so much music out there, there will always be something that is about what you’re feeling. Just listening to the lyrics and knowing that you’re not alone, singing along if you want to, can be comforting.
10. Watch tv or a movie
Much like playing a computer game, I’ve found this is a great way to take your mind off whatever is going on. Just having some distraction will help tone down strong feelings.
Do you have another way to handle your emotions, without food or starvation? Please share what works for you!
July 19, 2012
I don’t know the first time I felt unbeautiful
The day I chose not to eat
What I do know is how it changed my life forever
I know I should know better
There are days when I’m OK
And for a moment, for a moment I find hope
But there are days when I’m not OK
And I need your help
So I’m letting go
Superchick — Courage
The start of an eating disorder
I felt lonely and misunderstood in high school. I had friends, but I took a lot of different classes from them. I was at a perfectly healthy weight, perhaps just in the top range of healthy weight. I did eat candy and other snacks, sometimes more than I probably should have. I got told off about it. I felt like I was fat. What started as a simple diet — pay attention to what you eat, quickly became an eating disorder. I couldn’t control my environment, so I controlled my eating. For nearly a year, I cut out more and more from my diet. I ended up eating only a tiny bit of breakfast and as little dinner as I could get away with. I lost weight. Quickly at first, but later it came to a full stop. I decided I couldn’t live like that anymore, and started eating more again, even if it was scary as hell and mostly because I thought my parents started to notice how little I ate, and I really didn’t want them to make me stop. I ended up going the opposite way. I was frightened by the numbers on the scale going up. I decided to try to control the calories a different way. I took laxatives, and started throwing up. I went through starve, binge and purge cycles for nearly 4 years.
Having to share my secret
Then, in 2007, I went on a two-week vacation with friends. I’d learned and taught myself how to keep my eating a secret and I knew which lies to tell, and it seemed no one noticed. Until about a week into this vacation. If you’ve ever been through bulimia or binge eating disorder, you know how strong the urge to binge can become. I needed to binge. It was around noon, the hottest time of the day, and shops were closed. I went crazy, being mad about the shops being closed and ranting about it to my friends. My friends didn’t understand, but they knew something was up. They asked me up straight, but I just couldn’t talk about what was wrong. I asked them to leave me alone while I stayed in the apartment and thought about it.
It was hard, this had been my secret for years, but there was no way out now, I had to tell them.
I confessed my eating disorder in a note. I never felt so relieved and frightened at the same time. I was relieved to know I no longer needed to keep this secret. Years of keeping it a secret had me bogged down. It had become both my best friend and my worst enemy. It was the one thing that was just me, no one else that knew about it, so it also felt like my best friend after all these years. I was absolutely frightened about what would come next. Some time soon, I would need to get help, because people knew about it now and they would make me stop this, they would make me get help. And they did. I needed to get help.
Therapy and life after
It was good to have someone to confide in, that seemed to understand. I went through therapy for another 3 years or so. Therapy helped, but it wasn’t until nearly 2 years into it, that I finally started to feel real control over my eating again. I no longer needed to binge. Even after all this time, I still had occasional relapses, but it wasn’t anything close to what it had been.
During the last year of my university studies, I finally started to see my body for what it is. I learned to dress better and started to wear clothes that make me feel good about myself instead of hiding in baggy clothes. All these years, my self-esteem had been at rock bottom, and for the first time it started growing again.
I’ve learned there’s better ways to cope with emotions than through food. Don’t punish yourself for having coped the way you have, no matter how long it may have been. It was the only way you knew how. Food isn’t the enemy. There’s too much candy and delicious nutritious food not to enjoy it.
I still have times where I don’t feel great about myself, times where I don’t eat much at all because of my emotions running high, and other times where I eat more than what can be qualified as a healthy amount, but it’s nowhere near the amount of food I would eat during binges. I’ve come to the conclusion that loving myself will be a life-long journey.
Too Much Candy is part of that journey. You’ve reached this place, because you’ll likely have (had) your own struggles with food, body image and self-esteem. I hope that, by writing about my own journey and the things I’ve learned and am learning on this journey, I can help you on your journey to feel great about yourself.
July 17, 2012
I got a perfect body
But sometimes I forget
I got a perfect body
Cause my eyelashes catch my sweat
Regina Spektor — Folding Chair
Whether you have been through an eating disorder or not, if you read this, it’s likely you, too, know the pain of feeling your body is not normal.
What is normal, anyway? Is it skinny legs, a flat stomach or a rounder butt? When I first realised everyone has something they don’t like about their bodies, it changed my perspective. I do not love every single part of my body equally. It’s not like any body on tv or in magazines. It’s my body. Whether I lose or gain weight, my body shape stays roughly the same. It stays true to itself, and this shape is normal for me.
So I want you to ask yourself, what is normal for you? Find out, and let go of any thoughts about what you “should” be.
I don’t like my hips, thighs and butt, but I have learned to accept them as they are, and instead focus on the things I do like about my body — I have long legs, I like my calves and I have a relatively small waist. When I dress to flatter these parts, I feel great. I can wear skirts that hit on or just above the knee, hiding my thighs but showing my calves and the length of my legs, and I can wear a belt to cinch in my waist to put focus on the smallest part of me.
Which parts of your body do you like? If you say you don’t like anything about your body — look at it. Move your hands, wiggle your toes, stretch and think of all the things your body enables you to do. It’s gorgeous and powerful. There’s bound to be a part of your body that you don’t hate as much as others. Focus on that part. Learn to like it. Then start loving it.
Whatever shape or size, your body is normal. Focus on the things you do like.
What parts of your body do you like? How do you put focus on them?
July 15, 2012
Hi, and welcome to Too Much Candy. This is a blog about body image, personal fashion and food.
Who I am
I’m Anouska, I struggled with eating disorders and low self-esteem for over 7 years, and low self-esteem for even longer. I was clinically depressed, and hid from the world in over-sized, shapeless clothes. I realise now, that only made me feel more insecure about myself. I was absolutely convinced I was fat and ugly and not worthy of anything.
I spent so much energy hating my body that eating disorders and depression creeped in. For years I tried to change my body — if only I could lose weight, I’d be beautiful and happy. Of course, reaching any weight-loss goal never worked, I just kept hating my body.
Through therapy, I recovered from my disordered eating pattern and depression. It wasn’t until two years after therapy ended, that I really began to notice how much making an effort to dress my best every day — even when I don’t feel like it — boosted my mood and self-esteem. Even if I still am not totally confident about my body, I can dress to flatter my best features, which makes me feel better.
I actually weigh more now than I did before and during the first year of my eating disorder, but I’m happier and healthier than I can remember I ever was. I finally learned to dress in a way that makes me look and feel great, I learned to nourish my body and soul, and I learned to accept myself. I want to share my experiences and help other women feel great about themselves, too.
Healthy, happy and beautiful at any size
I strongly believe you can be healthy and feel happy and beautiful at any size. By dressing your best, nourishing yourself and truly taking care of yourself and letting go of all the guilt and shame involved with eating “bad” foods, you will feel great. You deserve to feel great about yourself, just as you are.
I will never, ever tell you that you should lose weight. I’m not an expert at fashion, food or psychology. The things that work for me will not be the exact same things that you need. Everyone is different, but everyone deserves to feel great about themselves. I’m just writing about my own experiences and hope that by sharing my journey and thoughts, you, too, will find a way to feel great about yourself.
If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder or depression, please seek professional help. This site is not a substitute for professional help or treatment to any individual. This is just a place where I share my own experiences and where I encourage you to share yours.
Subscribe to my blog posts
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I encourage you to share your own experiences as well as your thoughts on the things I write. I’m always open to discussion, but I will not accept hostile, intolerant, or cruel comments.
So, tell me, what has your journey been like so far?