I am So Proud I Ate At McDonald’s Today
A big recovery win to be celebrated
Okay, okay, it’s McDonald’s, nothing to write home about. People go to Maccy D’s all of the time. Heck, as a kid, when out shopping with the parents it was odd if we didn’t take a visit to get our happy meals.
It’s just something we do. When we are out and about we often want to grab food quickly, and whilst most fast foods are not the greatest when it comes to nutritional value, the occasional treat is good for the soul.
What I have written above applies to a lot of people I know. It used to apply to me. Before eating disorder.
Fearing a basic human function
Around 14 years ago I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. A diagnosis that didn’t really prepare me for the huge impact it would go on to have in my life.
I quickly became so unwell I was almost sectioned, which only was an almost due to an error on their part meaning it was never processed.
I lost friends, my relationship with family members became strained. My life was turned upside down. It all revolved around food. What I would eat for the day. What was now on my ever growing banned list of food and drink items.
I could only eat at certain times. I could only eat a very small selection of low calorie foods, that was carefully weighed and measured. Each calorie would be noted in my calorie counting notebook I carried with me everywhere I went.
The long road to recovery
Over the years I have been in treatment. Around four times I have been in intensive outpatient treatment and seeing a dietitian.
I have been on several carefully planned meal plans, had various medical complications due to malnutrition, and watched my weight fluctuate, never nearing a healthy weight as the ED would pull me back from the brink of freedom time and time again.
Nothing seemed to stick long enough for me to make long lasting changes and I had made piece with the fact that this was it for me. A quasi recovery life, hovering outside of the danger weight zone, but still a way off from a healthy body weight and functions. Destined to always fear food, to have to carefully plan my life around food and my anxiety linked to it. Oh, and let’s not forget the awesome intestinal problems that gets thrown into the mix, such fun!
However, thankfully I was wrong, and something suddenly clicked a couple of years ago. I tried again, for the, who knows what number this attempt was. My family didn’t hold their breaths, I’ve done this countless times before. Heck, I didn’t even have faith in myself.
But I just kept on going. Past the worst of my anxiety, past all of my food restrictions. I tried new foods, and started eating foods I hadn’t allowed to pass my lips in years. My weight crept up, but I still kept going. Finally trusting my body to let me know what it needed. I started to feel stronger, my hair became thicker, and I didn’t feel the cold like I used to.
These realisations didn’t occur overnight of course. It’s a strange experience really. you spend so long working towards this goal and it feels like there will be this magical moment where you suddenly feel recovered, and rainbows and sparkles erupt from the sky or something. This didn’t happen unfortunately (sorry to burst your bubble). It wasn’t something I realised was happening straight away, and a lot of it I realise at moment such as this when I am reflecting. But it doesn’t make these achievements any less magical.
Being well again
It’s been a long rocky road for me to get to this point. And while recovery is absolutely possible, I believe it leaves scars. For me, I have to work on my recovery everyday. The ED voices are still there, I just manage to not act on them.
This has enabled me so much more freedom, including not being restricted to only eating at certain times, having so much more free range of food types. I am now able to go to a party or meal and not have a complete melt down or overcompensate by restricting before or after.
That being said though, there are a few things I still haven’t yet managed. Some of these things are just because I haven’t really thought about it, some are old ED rules creeping in I need to knock away, and some are just skills I need to relearn.
One of these skills is intuitive eating. I have had food rules or meal plans all of my adult life. I can’t remember how to hear my hunger pangs sometimes, I have been so used to just eating as part of a pattern.
But more and more over the coming months I have started to notice that I am eating more intuitively. Just grabbing something spontaneously, just because I fancy that food, or have a craving.
And that leads me to today
As a vegetarian I did get a little excited about McDonald’s adding a plant burger to their menu, the last of this type of big chain to do so. And I think I have had burgers on the brain ever since, but I haven’t had chance to try one. Until today of course.
After shopping I felt hungry, and it would be a while until I could get home to sort some food out. Without even thinking I just walked past McDonald’s and thought, why not? Let’s do this!
I won’t lie to you, I was fine until I ordered my meal, opting for fries instead of salad, because I would have picked salad just to be ‘safe’, and the only way to keep ED in check is to push it by leaving my comfort zone.
But this anxiety didn’t last long, and I soon had my tray and was sat sinking my teeth into my lunch.
This is the first burger and fries I have had for lunch in, I think 10 or more years?! First of all it was such a fear, just a no go zone. Then I just don’t gravitate to such foods for lunch because I’m not used to it.
But today I did!
Today I just grabbed what I wanted. Intuitive eating at it’s best. An anxiety that would have once lasted for days and impacted on everything I did following this, only lasted minutes. I am again hungry and about to grab dinner, consisting of what I want, and not what I would have had (or not had to compensate).
This is a major deal for me! It’s a reminder of how far I have come, which I thought was a place that would be forever out of reach for me. It’s a sign that I am moving onto the next steps in my recovery, towards more intuitive eating.
Now, I did eat my burger and remember that McDonald’s for me has always been one of those things I would often fancy but then never really found to be a satisfying meal. But who cares? Food doesn’t have to be perfect (which is another thing that would have led me into a meltdown). I did it! and I honestly feel that I probably will do it again at some point. Perhaps from a proper nice burger place next time though.
Celebrating the wins
I keep calling this a small win, but it’s not. It’s flipping huge (see what I did there? Flipping….burgers…..I won’t become a comedian, I know, I know)! To some people this is nothing. It’s an everyday occurrence. To others it might be a sign of my recovery that warrants a thumbs up, but nothing more.
To me though? To me it’s getting my life back. It’s recovery. It’s freedom!
So I wanted to share with you lovelies that I had a McDonald’s today, because I feel that I have fricking earned celebrating getting to this place.
I also want to share with you that sometimes life feels like it will never make a turn for the better. At times we can feel like we have no choice but to give up. I know I have had these thoughts, and even acted on them at times.
I want you to know that no matter how long it takes you, it doesn’t mean you won’t get there. It took me 14 years to get to this stage, and I can honestly say that recovery is the best, albeit hardest, thing I have ever done.
Never give up lovelies. I believe in you. x