Now and then, not often, people ask me what I eat, or if I follow a particular type of eating plan or style of eating. They ask if I eat meat or if I restrict my diet in any way. They have asked what changes I have made and what has worked for me. I think these are not only valid questions, they are extremely important.
I think these are important questions because Eating Disorders, which are right here capitalized on purpose, are dieting disorders, and I’m going to call them disorders in spite of the nasty stigma surrounding the word “disorder.” In fact, a messy office space is plenty disorderly. Disorders might just be part of life and disorderly only in the eye of the beholder, such as Puzzle’s view of naturally-occurring thunder.
That said, to stop having an ED, I had to stop calling myself mentally ill. I had to separate the concept “mentally ill,” which was a label, someone else’s perception only, from the dieting problem I had. These were separate entities. Then, I tossed “mentally ill” out the window. And off it went.
I stopped calling myself those ugly, unnecessary names such as bipolar, schizoaffective, personality-disordered, and other clinical disease-words that never applied to me. I embraced my real feelings which were merely reactions to real happenings in my real life. This part was actually not that hard.
The hard part was the practical. If I was surrounded by people, say, neighbors, people down the street, people in the church where I used to attend, friends, ex-friends, town cops, and pretty much anyone I knew, who saw me as “mentally ill” and “dangerous,” and I was expected to show up for doc appointments and treated like a “thing” at these appointments, my life was not going to go well. If my living situation as “thing” continued and I was harassed by the local cops and threatened as “future dangerous” when I simply was not, and had to live in constant fear of being hauled away forcefully from my home and being locked up, then what kind of life could I possibly expect to live?
From start to finish, my dream of relocation started, I’d say, in spring of 2012, and finally I was able to really move in May of 2014. This meant many failed attempts, broken promises by people who truly disap0pointed me, realization I didn’t have enough money, and more and more attempts until finally I did it.
Still, my ED was not solved, and I was truly scared. Now I know at that point I had adversaries, people who would peek on here and say, “I bet she’ll fail and go running right back to Massachusetts and put herself in a hospital.” Others may have thought I’d become a sponge on the Uruguayan Welfare system.
Thankfully, by then, I had a healthy fear of Western Medicine instilled in me, enough to keep me from running back to psychiatry. I also began in earnest to study antipsychiatry principles. I read many important books, as many as I could get my hands on while abroad.
I honestly think EDUCATION is seriously important while recovering from an ED. I think education in basic human rights principles is essential.
Why is this? This is because if you ever had contact with the MH System you now have to recover from that contact. You recover, in part, by studying human rights, and learning that You and a Worthy Human Being. You learn that you never should have been treated like a “thing” in the first place. You should never have had your rights taken away. Force is wrong. You shouldn’t have been locked up. Being locked up is just plain inhumane, it’s not care! It’s not a hospital, it’s PRISON! Now these are very basic ideas that we were totally overlooking for years when we called those places “hospital” and we ran back and ran back and ran back. Those years when “hospital” was a place that somehow was our refuge.
Now, though, our eyes are opened and we know it wasn’t. It was only a prison and it didn’t provide those answers we had desperately sought. We so often left empty-handed, wondering what had gone wrong.
So there I was, in a foreign country and I had to get my eating squared away. I was running out of money badly and I could not afford to binge. At all. Food cost tons of money. At first. Especially since I couldn’t figure out how to buy it cheaply so I was spending a fortune at the more expensive food stores. I finally learned enough Spanish to go to the smaller mercaditos so I could purchase produce and other food at a decent price. I learned which of them had Feria prices. The Feria (farmer’s market) was okay, but too full of tourists. I found the tiny local places were a better deal.
They say eating on a budget is an eating disorder but I disagree. The best food is cheaper. What type of foods are cheap and what is costly? The most expensive, I’d say worldwide, you’ll buy in a restaurant. You might spend $50 on a meal if you eat out. I never, ever, eat out because I just can’t eat the food at those places. I do not eat “take out” and I do not buy “subs” and I do not purchase “prepared food.” All contains more salt than is okay for me.
During a typical grocery shopping trip, I may spend $20, or, if it’s closer to the beginning of the month and I’m a little richer, more like $40. A chunk of that might be on meat for Puzzle. I do not eat meat myself. The reason is that Puzzle likes it much more than I do. So she gets the meat. I do buy organic eggs. Not “cage free” since I have checked with the people who work at these shops and they have verified that some of the cage free eggs aren’t organic, but if you buy “organic” you’re really getting organic. I found several brands that seem reliably good. I only buy eggs on days I am sure I can carry them home without breaking them.
I do buy veggies. Carrots. Puzzle and I share them, but I admit, I eat most of them. The cost of organic carrots is not much more than regular depending on the season and where. I think I have been a carrot addict all my life but I go through phases, I admit, when they just sit around. Celery likewise. I have heard that celery is deceptively good for you. Who would have thought? I have also heard that celery seed is amazingly curative. I have seen celery seed on sale for a dollar at various places….keep an eye out! Celery seed has many uses as a spice.
I do eat potatoes. Even though they are mass-grown, I have discovered that Walmart regularly sells organic potatoes. I don’t mean packaged frozen ones, I mean real whole produce ones. These come in a three-pound bag, in red or white if I recall correctly. I almost always find them. You do have to look.
I don’t eat anything out of a can. One exception, though, and I don’t eat it often. Tomato paste. Only the paste, and sparingly, just to add pizzazz to stuff. I think tomato paste adds a lot to a dish. I have to buy those six-ounce cans, though. I can’t seem to finish one. I put it in the fridge and promise myself I’ll finish it off and won’t let it go bad. I break my promise.
My naturopath gave me excellent advice regarding beans. I think he’s right. He explained that beans are hard to digest even if you cook them. But if you take those exact same beans and sprout them, now, they are living plants and they are much easier on your system. He is right! What’s amazing is that I have learned to grow sprouts and I have also learned to love this new and fun hobby. I cannot grow them in the heat of the summer or when it is very cold in winter. Right now is ideal sprouting time and I am enjoying my mini-gardening. I have some Adzuki beans growing now. Next? Garbanzos. I tried giving Puzzle some sprouts but she cannot digest them so I stopped.
I love popping popcorn. My naturopath told me to give it up. Sorry to say, I disobeyed. I am noncompliant to say the least. Why? I pop popcorn because it is a “carrier.” I use it because it is great not for itself, but I can put spices on it, such as turmeric or even cayenne (don’t put too much!). If ever I fall and have swelling in a joint, or if I have a headache, turmeric is excellent as substitute for Ibuprofen and much healthier. I don’t think anyone should take Ibuprofen and I have heard it can cause many problems if taken in excess, problems that doctors seem either ignorant of, or they overlook.
I do not avoid caffeine. Yes, I tried giving it up and I found that I am one of those that didn’t get any benefit at all. I actually sleep better on days I either take a caffeine pill (I really do!) or drink coffee.
I am way too lazy most days to make coffee, but when I do, I still grind my own each day and I use a single-serve manual drip filter. I don’t add anything. I do not understand the “frappacrappa” mentality. To me, a milkshake or frappe is not coffee! Coffee, that is, plain, unadulterated, black coffee, is coffee. Nothing but. Pure and simple. It should not cost six dollars at a coffee shop. Nope. If it does, it’s a dessert.
I do not buy overpriced food. I think overpricing is an overlooked human rights abuse. If food is only for the rich, the rich can have their cake and I do not want it. I do not eat snob food out of principle. If it costs too much, I get pissed. I also get pissed at those that insist it’s “better” and insist that “if people care about the health of their kids they will pay the money.” Nope. If they are rich snobs who hate the poor they will go to their snob stores and turn up their noses at others they do not respect. Thankfully, most people aren’t that way, but I have seen a whiff of it on occasion.
What I eat is not set in stone. I don’t have a way of eating that I decided on, and then, followed from then on. This is an ever-changing process for me. Eating means deciding on a day-to-day basis. Seasons change. I change, get older, my needs change, availability changes, and many other things change. So I have to make new decisions as time rolls itself on and on. I have to be open to making these decisions, and be open to making a change if necessary.
This might apply to anyone. Say, for instance, you relocate and you now shop someplace else that perhaps does not stock something you often buy. Or perhaps now you have the choice to purchase an item you have never tried before. Or maybe you are going to see some friends, and you need to make decisions about how to adjust your eating to that occasion.
One challenge I have quite often is how to adjust to a long bus ride and being away from home for a number of hours. As you can guess, I have the challenge of getting enough water and asking myself if I should carry some water, or if maybe the water bottle will be too heavy in addition to the other items in my knapsack. Should I carry food? What is best considering food is not allowed on the bus? Which items would be inconspicuous and not end up in crumbs all over the floor? There is nothing more annoying, in my opinion, than when a passenger comes onto the bus with stinky “take-out” food, but…that is my opinion. I do sometimes have to bring food on the bus and I have learned what to chomp on and which foods are no-nos due to their inevitable tell-tale crumbs. I have also learned which bus drivers are more fussy, and which ones are super friendly and don’t care.
I also learned that in town, that is, Downtown, it’s a food desert. You won’t find a real supermarket there. I am stuck with CVS, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven, McDonald’s (one of these is much better than the other), and a few others if I look around. And also, Subway.
At Subway I am really stuck. I don’t want to offend these folks but nothing there is unsalty. Except one thing, and I end up there at certain times of day super hungry. In the cooler, if you look, you’ll find apple slices for either a dollar, or $1.50 since I think they raised the price. Not that I want to buy it, but if it is freezing out and I have a while to wait for the bus, I keep the Subway people happy, buy the apple slices, sit in Subway and act like I’m actually a customer. Sometimes I buy a cookie, too, but not often. Cookies there are cheap if you buy only one.
I own a blender but I don’t know why. I never use it. I don’t blend Puzzle’s food, nor mine. I cut hers up with a kitchen scissors. I cut up her meat and also cut up her fresh green beans into little logs for her. She loves frozen peas so much she goes nutso. She’s been totally happy with the chicken drumsticks I bought. She does much better on people food than on kibble. I notice that after I replenished her meat supply she has not used the floor as a potty. Not at all. This tells me I really need to keep on top of her grocery shopping and not let her supply go down to nil. I didn’t realize how much of a positive difference her homemade diet had made!
Oh my goodness here I am over 2000 words discussing a taboo topic. Food. Uh oh. Will Ed get me? Will I be booted off the ED unit for talking about food for over 2000 words? Will my Freedom of Speech be met with Censorship from the Therapy Gods for interfering with other people’s treatment plans? Will they silence me once more?
Food food food food food………Food, Glorious Food! Remember that song from Oliver Twist?
See ya later.