Birthday B.eats

Waltzing into my 06:30 gym session and stepping onto my daily weekday 09:06 train to work, did I find myself completely astounded that I wasn’t enveloped in a shower of party poppers with every person in talking distance singing their many happy returns to me. Why didn’t everyone know it’s my birthday? Everyone should know it’s my birthday, surely!

When you’re as big a birthday keeno as me, you’ll certainly appreciate the immensely irksome 364-day wait to next year’s special day and the complete blown up excitement (though some might call it over exaggerating) that comes with each turn of a new age. Though not overly enthused at the idea of being an inconvenient prime number for a whole other year, a pain at which I haven’t had to endure since 19 (use your maths skills), I have much to be excited about adopting another unit this year compared to previous years.

My mother would be proud as I sit here boasting some Bingo knowledge where the two little ducks that make up being the age of 22, followed me around all last year. They quacked in my ear to constantly lose weight and echoed one another with incentives that I wouldn’t feel accomplished unless the scales continued to drop and each told me that I was just too fat.

Though one two still carries on waddling behind me (because I am still in my 20’s!) the other number two has slowly started to morph into something that could become an integral character in the ugly duckling. Now that I’ve attempted to stifle his quack’s with one or two oat cakes, he is failing to voice his incentives that I should be skinny.

I’m happy, I’m healthy and I’m sure as hell going to make my mind-set of a 23 year old be such that 22 will be an age that feels like years behind me.

23 is going to be the age at which I overcome even more eating habits, get back my periods (sorry) and continue to stuff oat cakes in anorexia’s face. You could say, I’m going to make 23 a year of being in my prime – how I’m going to do that is still undecided, but the incentive is still there, okay!

Sorry I was late…

You’d have thought after a few weeks that the novelty of the London commute would’ve worn off by now and it’s only upon reflection do I question why it hasn’t yet. Apart from the people that insist waiting an extra minute for the next Victoria line train is far too long, so decide to squeeze in to the already rammed carriage and ignore all warning of the closing doors, or the passengers that lack a serious concept of urgency (or general lack of fitness), that can’t move any faster for people like me that insist I WILL make it to the overground with 3 seconds to spare, I really actually don’t mind the commute. So much so, that I was still planning to have my birthday on an actual tube… except it’s not really a tube, it’s called Cahoots and it’s a restaurant and it’s just designed like a tube.

Embarking on the commute comes with having started a new internship in recent weeks. Commute aside, I’ve had to take on several other new challenges: the hardest being to try and overcome the anxiety that has aroused when eating lunch around new people followed by the awkward explanation to the mass of confused expressions of why I’m not indulging in the mouth-watering pizza that everyone else is eating in the office. I’m fooling no one when I say that my banana is more appetizing.

Food aside, I’ve also faced the almighty challenge that has come with deciding what outfit to wear each morning. Though I could undoubtedly rock up in just a pair of jeans and a baggy sweatshirt due to the nature of my office, if I’m going to blend in with the general persona of Knightsbridge, you bet I’m going to strut my stuff in Primark’s latest office wear collection.

Where I’ve been so used to wearing a uniform that is as unflattering as ever, having worked in a leisure centre before this internship, I’ve long forgotten what it’s like to have to ensure you’re looking at your clothing best every day. This hit me at its worse last week, where the eating disorder desire to constantly hit perfection and not have a shred of evidence that I have any fat anywhere on my body and I was late for work.

Though I blamed it on train delays – which if you’re travelling on the London Overground, it pretty much guarantees you aren’t lying anyway – I was in fact rushing around the nearest clothing retailer looking for clothes. I felt so fat and so hideous in what I’d chosen to wear that day, that I’d almost considered turning around and going home after almost breaking down in tears on the train.

Perhaps I looked fine in what I was wearing, perhaps there wasn’t really that much excess back fat hanging over the side of my bra and perhaps my arms didn’t look like someone had attached a hammock to my tricep and was swinging merrily in the wind.

The point being that an eating disorder can still creep up on you at times where you still just don’t expect it. When I thought my confidence was on an up-turn, you’re taken 100 steps back because anorexia says you’ve gotten too fat. Sod you!

Have we lost all hope in chivalry?

As much as we’d still love to see a gentleman on the 1st, 4th and 29th date, rush to hold open the door for us, we first must at least appreciate the changing of the times. This isn’t suggesting we’re providing an easy escape route to all things gentlemanly, but given the progression from the push and pull door to the automatic and revolving door, chivalry might not always be possible. Though even if this could be done, we’ve seen from Bridget Jones’ Baby that helping a lady through a revolving door isn’t as smooth and gentlemanly as we might have expected. However, it’s very unlikely that we would refuse the invitation to be carried over the threshold anyway, as unorthodox as it may materialise to be.

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Only recently had a date pulled out my chair for me, was I so taken aback, that I almost fell off the chair from a lack of judgement. Manners aside, it sadly didn’t work out, but the thought certainly didn’t go unnoticed. However should I have been that surprised by his act of chivalry? Or should I have adamantly remained standing, hovering above my seat, emitting a subtle cough, until he rushed to my legs’ aid to pull out my chair?

For years, women have fought for equal rights and to be on an equal level playing field as men. Yet not long ago did Tweets spark out of control, when the TV show First Dates aired a woman who was left appalled by her date who didn’t honour the entire bill in what was their fine-dining London experience – with all the bubbly trimmings F.Y.I.

As a society, we generally opt to decide when we would like things to remain in line with the current times, or when we would like things to revert back to the “old days”. We can angrily pull on our yellow marigolds as we scrub through the pile of washing up because our ancestors have taught us so, yet presumptuously still expect the male on the same occasion to fork out for the caviar and lobster you’ve just ordered. Marigolds may have gone as far as adopting pink, furry ruffles along the rim of the glove, which for the record, doesn’t make such a chore of the dishes any more appealing for the lady, but where should we actually draw the line on gender roles? Do we start making extra-large blue gloves with action man print taped to the side, in a bid to encourage role reversal?

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We’ve seen from different walks of the animal kingdom, that a lot of a male’s life involves impressing their prospective female mate and we hope that still hasn’t changed for the male human. Even just the offer of contributing to 100% of the bill or the gesture of trying to halt the automatic, revolving door using mind trickery is impressive, and will go a long way with a lot of females, but I simply propose that it works like a two-way street, or a two-way swinging door for that matter. I can’t say that I will persist to insist on splitting the bill down the middle, but given I’d just ordered the fresh cut of sirloin steak and 3 large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, I’d by every means encourage that I sufficiently contribute, which I feel should always be the case. Had you been invited on the date, then we’d probably face a different discussion, but there should by no means be any expectation that men should be forced to pay for the entire bill.

Whether it’s the pink, blue or yellow marigolds that make an appearance after a home-cooked meal, given it’s the party who didn’t load the dishes with food that’s wearing the gloves, you’re probably doing a good job in maintaining an equal partnership. I cook, you clean and vice versa.

Though a surprise bunch of flowers will never become too old-fashioned and should remain as sweet a gesture as it did in the “old days”, let’s just make an effort to return their act of chivalry with a 6 pack of beers. Or a blue pair of marigolds…!

Embracing Change

If, like me, you’re a fan of the film, Bridesmaids, we’d have all seen the difficulty that can come with undergoing and accepting change. In the film’s case we see the protagonist, Annie, and her inability to deal with the fact that her childhood best friend is no longer the same as when she was at a former age. But instead of plunging into a giant cookie, or battling your bowel movement while your pride overrules to accept that you’ve a bad case of food poisoning, we would probably find it easier to just try and accept change, grab it by the balls, and embrace it.

Change in my case has so far been the deviation from size 10/12 jeans to size 6/8 to steadily creeping back up to an annoying size somewhere in between the two. Though anorexia saw me rekindling the love of the Zara jeans that got me through my years of being 17 and 18 (that for some unknown reason I’d held on to), I suddenly in a moment of epiphany wondered why on earth I was gushing tears when they felt slightly more snug than normal the other day. Okay, weight gain might have a little to do with it, but really the point here is the fact that I am 22, very almost 23 and certainly not a 6 year former age and it is quite okay that a pair of jeans that are now about 8 years old don’t fit me any more!

A 17 year old may have still yet to realise their ever decreasing speed in metabolism so can still continue to gobble 4 Yorkie bars in one hit or not see a pizza shaped mound appear in their thighs after a cheeky session with Dominoes but they still have enough problems as it is. Especially us females. It’s a given that we all know the adolescent changes that occur for both males and females between their teenage years. Fat tissue will start swelling out of control in your chest area as you cross the border from A to B to C cup, no amount of toothpaste, Sudocream and any other concoction of home remedies will rid you of your red spots and that smell that keeps following you? Yes that is Sure’s way of hinting that you should probably now take up on their buy one, get one free offer on deodorant. But the changes don’t just stop there, because that pepperoni pizza has to go somewhere…

According to Cosmopolitan, “Weight normally continues to increase annually in your 20s, mostly due to increase in body fat compared to teen years.” The years of Yorkies, the months of McDonalds and the weeks of waffles may eventually catch up on you and that is apparently entirely normal.

So the fact that these stupid jeans still had a place in my wardrobe 6 years down the line anyway is still quite beyond me. Those jeans only fit me over the last few years because I was a 22 year old unnaturally squeezed into a 17 year old’s body. Those jeans don’t fit me now because I am becoming a healthier version of the 22 year-old I should be, (attempting to) embrace the changes that every normal 20 something year old faces and not because I am getting fat.

It’s not me, It’s you.

You’d think I was undergoing some serious emotional meltdown with all these recurring, relationship break-up type themes that seem to be my main topic of writing in my posts at the moment. I’m sincerely not this emotional wreck I appear to be making out, it’s actually just that using a relationship as a comparison to what’s going on in this head of mine, feels like a much better relatable tool for those who are reading.

Through several prompts and also due to the fact I love to write, I long ago made the decision to share my eating issues in the form of this wonderful website you now see before you. It was by no means my way of creating the sequel to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings with the hope of an ensemble of violin players to follow me around, plucking the right chords to portray what a pitiful situation I’m in and get the sympathy vote . It was more so just my way of detracting my attention, potentially analyse what the root of my issues were and to most importantly help me on my way to getting over it all. So completely selfish really.

With this decision came such enormous benefits that I never imagined would occur. I’ve found something I love to do and I’ve actually found a new career direction I want to pursue when I initially thought I wanted to count s*** up for a living. However, with the decision to broadcast, also lead to some unintentional downsides: this being, you (plural).

Because I divulged and revealed so much about my eating quirks, what I ate, what I eat now and my general rules and fears about certain food groups, it almost became this attribute I had to constantly adhere to. When you adopt certain traits and characteristics, i.e. it might be that you’re the one that always has great skin or the one that never gets angry, as soon as you stop to cohere to these traits, all hell breaks loose. But really you’ve every right to feel anger after discovering Paul Hollywood abandoned his post with BBC and has now ruined The Great British Bake Off for life and be completely normal to have a face that becomes bespeckled with a bout of red spots because it’s just that time of the month (ironic that I’m amenorrheic). Now suddenly, because you’ve abandoned the ‘never angry’ and ‘flawless skin’ traits, you’re suddenly impeded with an influx of who/what/why questions and have become some completely unrecognisable stranger to the person masking these accusations. Give it a break, will you!

I sometimes feel in a constant episode of Big Brother whereby I’m forced to retreat to the Diary Room to explain my actions as to why I decided to eat so much vanilla frozen yogurt last night. “But you suffer with an eating disorder?”, “Surely you don’t eat yogurt?”, “I thought it was just an apple you ate?” I feel like a key reason for me remaining tied to the disorder, is because I’m almost scared of what people are indirectly presuming about why I am suddenly eating more. I feel like because of the traits that are formed with anorexia, I have to remain adherent to these traits forever, otherwise people will start talking and making comments about the way I do things now.

I think we’re all guilty of feeling like we’ve stepped into a persistent game of paranoia and I for one, am probably guilty, given the above. I’m sure people really do have better things to do and more important things in their own life to worry about, rather than the fact that they’ve noticed I had my mid-morning snack at 10:28 and not the usual 10:30. However, please pretend like you didn’t notice the missing biscuit from the tin. It was me okay. I REALLY wanted one, and who can really say no to a biscuit, anyway!

Single and not so ready to mingle

Break ups are hard, even worse so when you don’t realise you’re going through one and still living in the hope of it being a temporary sponsored silence they’re partaking in. However so, there’s generally a reason for them happening and after the “I’ll never love again!” phase, you realise that you can grow in love again for the only two people you’ll ever need in your life anyway… Ben & Jerry – though mine is more Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry if I’m truly honest. (But I’d appreciate if my mum, dad, sister, family and friends stayed put in my life too. Obviously.)

I’ve had my little share of break ups: some very real, and some that felt very real until you realise it’s actually only their free taxi service and the access to their orange Wednesday code that you’re sad to have broken up with as opposed to the person, themselves. That is true heartbreak. On the other hand, I’m not yet damaged enough from a break up that I’m not ready to mingle again, regardless of the title to this post. In actual fact, I’m talking about being single from anorexia and not ready to mingle with it EVER again.

Anorexia relationship status: it’s complicated.

As pictured in a fairy tale or in one of Disney’s great movies, this week I merrily skipped out of the hospital, hand in hand with a life-size piece of cake* and a giant ‘eff’ off scrawled across a piece of paper that was conceptually stamped to my back. The nurse must have put it there after I left her surgery as we both made a positive bid goodbye to each other now that anorexia was no longer keeping us together. Because this week, I was discharged!

Though fairly anti-climatical as I was half expecting to be greeted outside of the doors by a marching band and a huge ‘Congratulations’ banner held by a human-sized walking bottle of Prosecco, I instead retreated to the car and felt almost on the verge of tears.

It goes completely without saying that I’m so pleased I’ve fought as hard as I have done to get into the position I am in now. Life has been and is so much better on this side of the disorder, but you can’t help but feel sadness towards something you’d grown so close to. Almost like the part of the break-up where you suddenly feel like you really are ready to move on and it can sometimes feel more upsetting at the very real thought of living without it, even though you know it’s potentially for the better.

For better understanding for both myself and anyone that cares to learn about eating disorders, I frequently compare anorexia to be like that of a relationship. And for me, this has unexplainably been the hardest break-up yet, though by far the most important break-up (at least for my health) I’ll probably ever have to make. Given that my life is still very much governed by food, exercise and the absolute fear of gaining too much weight, there are still various parts of me that remain tied to the disorder, hence the complication status.

At least for now I sincerely feel like people around me are no longer having to cope with me and some other me with an eating disorder lurking behind. I still very much have lots of unusual eating quirks but they are far from making me unhappy, so for now just deal with the fact that I’ll have a steak salad for my dinner… Just perhaps without the steak and the dressing and the cheese. The rabbit food will be just fine.

*okay, me and cake aren’t that good a friends just yet.

Unhealthy is a two-way street

Google Images did a blindingly accurate job in highlighting my exact thought process towards the ongoing headlines circulating our media towards health and what new phenomenon is now positively detrimental to it. Typing the word ‘unhealthy’ into the search engine, and in 0.34 seconds with a total of 40,500,000 results that it manages to procure – saving us all those valuable milliseconds we’re always worrying about; Google reveals what it means to be unhealthy.

Generally speaking, Google isn’t wrong when it’s the above connotations that are our initial thoughts when we think about what it means to be unhealthy and on the road to bad health. But if one side of the motorway is taking us towards the larger unhealthy size, obesity, surely means that taking a U-turn on that same road, would bring us to the smaller unhealthy size, anorexia? Astonishingly, there was even a picture of what is apparently an unhealthy penis before anything in relation to being underweight and unhealthy was shown!

However, to try and keep things more PG-13, I did in fact opt to disregard that photo from this post, though if you’re curious to the health of one’s genitals, I can confirm Google can help you there. Disappointingly, I gave up scanning through images to find any such picture showing that at the other size spectrum, anorexia, is in fact considered just as unhealthy too. Google just doesn’t seem to agree.

I know we’d no doubt all be just as happy and  protective of our food as the woman above if we were presented with that many cheese burgers, but unhealthy can be so much more than just filling our tummy trunks with all kinds of junk. 13 cheeseburgers in one sitting is possibly not ideal but that doesn’t define them unhealthy. In that particular moment, yes, okay, they probably are non too healthy but in other instances their relationship with food could in fact be very healthy indeed.

Unless you have the utmost certainty and belief in nominating someone healthy or unhealthy, I advise to just be sure not to judge that book by it’s cover, because beneath the psychology surface, a lot more could be revealed. Just because someone is seen to be eating an apple, it might not be correct in calling them healthy because that apple could well be the only piece of food they’ll have that day. On numerous occassions, I’ve been known as healthy because I’ve indulged in a hearty portion of fresh fruit. However, the mental relationship I had with that pineapple and mango at that point was far from healthy because that may have been all that I allowed myself for dinner that evening because I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything more than that.

As a nation we’ve absolutely no chance of ever deciding whether to grant our lifestyle and food habits as healthy or not. You consider yourself the connoisseur of complex carbohydrates or the doctor of diets because you opted to use the reduced fat yogurt, yet have instead now been told of the Mediterranean health benefits and we should all be competing against mice for the best full fat cheese and other dairy products. So perhaps hold off on that fruit because studies will probably reveal sooner or later that it is just as detrimental to us as it was to Adam and Eve.

If you’re happy, balanced and not suffering from the two extremes of the weight scale; carry on because you’re probably doing okay!