Most people assume that eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors begin with a desire to lose weight but that’s not always the case!
I was reminded of this last week when I was sick once again with my third stomach virus of 2016, which was also my second stomach virus in a matter of barely three months.
Way back in December 1999, I had two stomach viruses within three weeks of each other which left me completely uninterested in the usual foods that I ate.
I began to live in fear of that full feeling in my stomach. I was afraid of eating the wrong thing that would cause me to be nauseous.
It was right then and there that I subconsciously started to eat less.
I didn’t cut food groups or my favorite desserts but I can recall thinking twice about what I would eat, keeping things fairly bland and eating just enough to be satisfied.
My period disappeared within three months and didn’t return for almost two years.
At the time, I had no idea that there was such a thing as not eating enough but that’s exactly what happened.
It became a way of life, a habit and a really unhealthy way of living.
I lost weight even though I didn’t need to lose weight but I didn’t mind that I lost the weight and the cycle became really hard to break until one day I fell into starvation mode, the scale froze and my appetite soared.
Flash forward to January 2012, I had another horrendous stomach virus which left me so turned off to my usual way of eating that I became a vegetarian.
While I do not regret that decision at all as I have seen so many positive benefits to my overall health by following a meatless diet, I did lose weight that I didn’t need to lose along with my period briefly during that year too.
Switching to a vegetarian diet produced immediate, added energy from the increase in carbohydrates which automatically made me run faster and longer but I wasn’t eating enough at first to keep things in balance. It took some time for all of that to sort its way out.
Although I think it’s completely normal for us to not want to look at the specific foods we ate right before being sick, there comes a point when choosing what we eat is more MENTAL than PHYSICAL.
Of course for a few days our stomachs are off and we have to watch what we eat so that we have time to recover our digestion but after a little while, it really is okay to go back to normal eating which is something I have always struggled with!
2016 was no exception.
It started for me in February when I had my first stomach virus in quite a while.
You may remember that I was eating pretty bland and couldn’t even look at the jars of peanut butter in my pantry for a long time.
Thankfully I ate enough other foods (like bagels!) to keep my calorie intake high enough to train for the Long Island Half Marathon and not suffer any consequences (like losing weight or my period).
September’s stomach virus made things even worse in terms of my interest in food. I added a few more never again foods to my list (I’m looking at you butternut squash!) and it honestly took several weeks after that virus for me to eat a salad without thinking twice about it.
I think it’s even obvious in my What I Ate Wednesday posts that my intake of vegetables has dwindled down significantly as compared to the days when they were the focal point of my plate. Sweet potatoes are a rarity when they used to be my favorite.
When I got hit last Monday with another stomach virus, it threatened to really send me over the edge.
I almost swore off of oatmeal for life last week and even told my mother that I may never eat cake again so go ahead and celebrate my dad’s birthday without me.
That cake statement is what stopped me in my tracks. I never give up cake and honestly, giving up oatmeal made me realize that I was running out of foods to eat!
It was right then and there that I decided to push myself to return to my usual eating because my past history with stomach viruses and disordered eating flashed before me (and inspired this post!).
While I lived on bagels with butter and jelly for a few days last week, I forced myself once I thought I felt better to eat a salad.
And then the next day I picked up the cake for my dad’s birthday, finishing my piece, my son’s piece and taking another, as I usually do. 🙂
I am way too smart about my health and the importance of eating enough to allow these viruses to threaten to cause disordered eating again.
While it’s clear to me that my eating patterns and food choices are definitely changing, I am paying super close attention to ensure that whatever it is that I do eat, it’s enough to support my running, workouts and lifestyle.
I can’t run well if I don’t eat well!
My hope is that this post helps others to see how easy it is to fall into a disordered eating pattern even when you don’t intend to do any harm.
Like right now with all of the January fitness and diet hoopla? You may be tempted to jump on board with a “clean way of eating” or fitness challenge that you really don’t need which can lead you down a dangerous path without even realizing it.
Be mindful and honest with yourself! Just because everyone else seems to be participating in something, doesn’t mean you have to as well.How disordered eating can start #health #disorderedeating #mindful #stomachvirus Click To Tweet
Have you given up specific foods following bouts with the stomach virus?
Are you participating in any January health challenges?
Do you have a past with disordered eating?