Friday, May 22, 2015


I can report that I'm still off sugar, but it's starting to call me.

I honestly believe that no food is bad food, and that if we think of something as forbidden, it becomes more tempting. I know many people who eat sugary foods on occasion. Even people who used to have eating disorders. When I stopped eating sugar several weeks ago, though, it was because it felt to me like a substance addiction. It's very hard to sift through all the schools of thought on eating disorders and food compulsions. I'm working very hard to hear what rings true to me, and to see what works for me, and to listen to that voice inside me and use tools from schools of thought that will work for me. Right now, the addiction model doesn't sound right to me when it comes to food issues. Friends who are in recovery from food issues using the addiction model may think I'm in denial, they may see that I'm struggling and wonder why I don't go back to a method that worked for me. But I have to recover in a way that I can sustain. A lot of what I read about recovery from eating disorders is that it is not a straight line and that it is a path that requires a lot of patiences. 

I went back over my notebook from the past several weeks. I usually note how my food was, sometimes reporting it, and then I write ten things I'm grateful for every night. I had about ten days where the food was moderate and normal. Like I mentioned in my last blog, that was a creatively fertile and productive time for me. I started to make some long term commitments to the community I live in. I received a three year contract for my job and I decided to start a nonprofit arts organization in my community. Just two months ago, I had a different plan. I had an escape route. I was planning to do a major job search and relocate to Chicago or New York City within a year. I feel very fed on every level by big cities. But there are some projects that I think I could do where I live now that could be fulfilling and beneficial to the community. I could feel useful. 

But once I made that commitment, I started feeling a bit off-kilter. The food started getting messy, bigger, more out of control. Food, I think, has been a place I go to when I feel trapped. It was solace within the chaos and trauma of my childhood. It was a safe secret place where nobody could get to me. Now, making myself more public, putting myself out in the world in more visible ways, is scary. I feel vulnerable. I'm afraid of failing. And along with all that, I feel that the commitment, something I'm choosing to make, creates confines for me that recall a feeling of being trapped in childhood. 

And yet food doesn't make me feel freer. It feels like another trap. So Im working to find out what makes me feel free, empowered, and safe. I need to feel that I have enough privacy and a relationship with myself that nobody can get to. A self-intimacy, a self-trust. I also need to feel that I can employ a sense of spontaneity, that I can have some kind of freedom within the confines of a connected and committed life. 

I need to constantly talk back to the voices that tell me food is the answer. I need to keep writing this blog, even if only three people read it. I need to find a place inside me that is mine, that I can sink into, and feel calm and excited and full of hope. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015


The last thing I want to do right now is write an Unsugaring blog post, but I promised myself I would be honest about the highs and lows of my relationship with food. The last week has been a roller coaster when it comes to my recovery from my food compulsions. 

But I am still off sugar, thank goodness. 

I had this stretch, maybe four days, when I felt pretty neutral around food. I ate moderately, I mostly ate three meals a day with nothing in between. I was able to go out to eat and not fret over what to order. I ordered whatever sounded good to me--including a sausage and cheese omelet at one meal--and I had this abundant space in my head to dream big dreams and plan new projects. I also had tons of energy and was very joyous. 

Then, on the 10th, on my one month mark off sugar and without bingeing, I got on the scale. I'd gotten on the scale several times over the last month, but I wanted an accurate count of how much weight I'd lost. The first 4.5 pounds had come off in two days. I'd started at 164.3 and had hovered at 160.6 for a few weeks, but between the 1st and the 10th, I lost another four pounds. I felt thrilled. Which of course led to me calculating how long it would take me, at that rate, to get back down to a size 4. I have a closet full and drawers full of size 2, 4, and 6 clothes, all purchased during a brief spell when I worked super hard for the weight to come off and I worked out compulsively. It's summer and I'd like to wear those summer dresses again. 

The calculating led me back to the food. I haven't been binging, but I've been eating more than three times a day, and bigger and bigger portions. Tonight, I ended the day with a large buttered bowl of popcorn, in front of episodes of "Girls." 

I do think the scale is a trigger, even though I know it can be used by some people as a tool. But I honestly think that the normalcy around food I experienced for that short stretch of days freaked me out as well. I started taking up a lot of space in the world, initiating new bold projects. There's a voice inside me that says, How dare you. During my voice lesson, in which I sing, badly, Italian arias, my voice became bolder and brighter, and I could hear a real singer in there, someone unafraid and powerful. 

I'm afraid to take hold of my own power. Real normalcy around food--not obsessing or worrying or calculating or plotting--would be such an enormous change for me. Even when my eating was moderate in the past, it was because I was in a rigorous program which involved weighing and measuring every morsel I put into my mouth, as well as engaging as several other support tools on a daily basis. My whole day was set up around supporting not bingeing. 

I actually had days where I slept in, got up and went out to breakfast with a friend, had appointments, came home and made a quick and simple lunch, did some work, made phone calls, and ate a healthy dinner (by choice, and because the fridge was full of vegetables that needed to be eaten, not because I was trying to reduce my food intake). I do want that life, that simplicity, that lack of obsession. But even if something isn't serving me, even if it's threatening to destroy me (I've been depressed for the last few days, since I've been leaning on the food more), the familiarity is hard to give up. 

But every night I write in my journal, I am willing to change. I embrace change. 

So here it goes again tonight, a night in which I'm spiraling as part of a two day darkness and depression. Even if it sounds new age-y or silly, I'm looking at the new me in the face and saying, Let's do this. Let's let the food go, let's let the suffering go. Let's let the baggage go. 

I hope everyone else on this journey is doing well, is on an upswing and is not giving up when you fall. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Turnip Cake?

It's been four weeks off sugar. Tomorrow will be four weeks binge-free. It's starting to feel a little more normal. My food seemed more contained this week. I'm finding snacks are a slippery slope for me. For instance, I pack a snack to eat later in the day and eat it in the car on the way to work. So I'm trying to just eat three meals a day with nothing in between. I didn't do that yesterday. For some reason, I could sleep on Tuesday night and I had to be up early for my last day teaching for the semester (I have a 7:30 AM class and promised to bring my students doughnuts to celebrate the end of the year). When I'm tired, I find I go to food for comfort, thinking it will give me energy. I didn't eat a lot, but I ate a lot of small meals very close together. I ate at 6:15 AM, 10 AM, 11:15 AM, 2 PM, and 4:30 PM. There's no way I was hungry at 11:15 AM after eating a pint of strawberries at 10 AM. In the afternoon, the students of my afternoon class brought pizzas. I hadn't planned on eating that. I've noticed yeasted doughs are rough on my stomach, I get terrible pains. But, hey, it had been ten days since the last terrible pain, and I thought, maybe I am cured. I also had a meeting after work, and I didn't know how long it would last or if I would last food-less through the meeting. I suffered for those pizza slices today. Practically incapacitated when my friend came over to help me plant a garden. She was digging up invasive Bermuda grass from the planter boxes, and I was lying on the ground in the happy baby yoga pose. The pain got better, but it bothered me all day.

I feel like I need to go back to the mention of doughnuts. My students asked, where will you get doughnuts at 6:30 in the morning? I thought, seriously? They don't know that doughnut shops open by 6 and some are 24 hour? In fact, the doughnut shop was hopping at 6:30 AM. I bought enough for each student to have two--they had suggested two dozen for fourteen students. I had some absences and some non-doughnut eaters, so there were several doughnuts left at the end of class. I pushed them on my students--"Bring them to a friend!" Still, there were 8 left. Yes, I'm very aware of how many doughnuts remain in a box. A student from the next class came in and I offered her a doughnut. She said yes. Then, I asked if I should leave the rest for the class. She said, sure, there's only four of us. I said, perfect--there's 8 doughnuts left. I am not a woman who can fathom people would want just one doughnut. I was a little tempted, because I was so tired, so it was pretty amazing I resisted. Buying sweets for others: another slippery slope. But it's so core to who I am.

My favorite job ever was working as a baker and barista at a small coffee shop in Marfa, TX (at that time, pop. 2424). I absolutely loved giving people sugar and coffee; it made everyone so happy. That is, until some people complained about how, since I'd started baking again, their weight was coming back on. I took that as the best compliment. So what do I do with this part of me that loves delighting people with sweets? How do I remain Sweetie the Baker as I change my own relationship with sugar? I will continue to reflect on that over the weeks. For now, I'm just super grateful that I'm not stopping at gas stations, grocery stores, taco shops, and Costco food courts between appointments in my day, that I can get to appointments on time and enjoy the produce in the box of vegetables I pick up weekly from a community farm. This week, we got turnips, and they included a recipe for turnip cake. I may make it with stevia. It doesn't have flour in it. I'm curious. Or I may roast them and eat them with salt. 

Thanks for reading and for posting about your own journeys.