I’m really trying to straighten out whatever’s going on with my appetite. One of the hardest things so far is trying to convince one medical professional after another that I DON’T have a deliberate eating disorder. I DON’T want to restrict, be thinner than I was, think I look bad naturally, or see it as my only way to gain control.* The only eating disorder I have is disorder with my ability to eat – a physical limitation of my body for reasons I’m still trying to find answers to. So along the way made an appointment with a dietitian. This post is about that experience, which I hope will help others to understand what to expect if they decide to go that route also.
* My husband also pointed out to me that in every eating disorder he’s witnessed, and in my experience also, the restriction and ideas about food and body would cause people to binge eat. I haven’t binged since the start of this. I WISH I could. Today, tomorrow and the next day until I gain and keep enough weight. The closest I get anywhere near that is when I use a natural appetite enhancer (yep!) to stir up the inclination to seek, bringing me to about 2000 calories on a really big day.*
In our first session, I was reminded to keep the food groups in balance. Historically, this is something I got pretty good at doing intuitively, especially after reading a book called The Portion Teller by Lisa R. Young, PH.D., R.D. It’s been a minute since the last time I read it, but I remember it putting a lot more emphasis on balancing food groups and gaining a real concept of portion sizes as compared to calories or micro/macro nutrients. That said, it doesn’t dismiss them, but instead may provide useful tools for those who can get caught up with numbers. (Liiiike me…)
As I’ve been going along without those physical cues, though, I don’t feel like I should eat 1) anything 2) a certain type of food, other than one that’s comfortable to digest. There’s nothing that says to me “Hmm, that was a fair bit of sugar. Maybe some chicken and veggies tonight would be good.” So this reminder from the outside is going to help shape my meals until I can do it naturally again.
I learned that there isn’t some magical drink I can consume to get a LOT more calories. It’s food. It can be pureed food, or fortified food, but unless I’ve got a tube down my throat, there just isn’t something quite that easy that’s going to help me get there. (Back to the blender…)
The dietitian provided a handout with a suggested meal plan. I looked it up online and found it was created by a woman named Marcia Herrin with a bunch of credentials behind her name. The “Rule of 3’s” meal plan is available as a pdf here. The pdf also shows a sample list of foods for each category, to help serve as a guide. Here also is a simple worksheet I made out of this plan in Excel to make it easier to fill out day by day. Please feel free to print it out and use it with credit to Ms. Herrin if you find it handy.
The big idea behind this is eating 6x a day every 2-3 hrs, keeping it balanced at each meal, and throwing in a few snacks of free choice. My first reaction was of being overwhelmed! HOLY $*&#! I can’t eat anywhere near that much! I felt like she was another person who just couldn’t hear me when I said I physically am unable to put that much food into my body. I felt like more could have been done to accommodate my current circumstances instead of rubbing my nose in the fact that day after day I’m working my ass off and can’t eat enough. So that part is pretty discouraging.
I brought up that I’ve only been doing food logs about once a week to get a sample of what’s really going on, or after I’ve had a particularly low day and feel like I need to catch up. (I have a personal goal of at least 1500 daily, which probably sounds different to you than it does to me. If I don’t spend all day trying to meet it, I won’t. Even after 2 months of trying for it. :( I expressed how I felt that was important, because I’m already stressing so damn much about food, and the logs are obsessive to me. I feel like keeping my body alive is requiring so much out of me that it’s unreasonable to MORE. And, I’m afraid of developing a legit eating disorder while trying to get out of this. There’s just so many unusual habits to make that it feels like I’m setting myself up for something nuts after the physical issues are addressed. In order to do this, it absolutely can’t be for my eyes only. These bitches are going to work. (I didn’t say that last sentence.)
I said I’d try. That’s why I made the appointment, right? And since I have absolutely nothing else to go on thusfar, I feel like it’s all I can do right now. But to do this, I would need to make this meal plan a lot less intimidating. I’d keep the balance, but reduce portion sizes to fit with what my stomach will allow. I’m talking like 2 Tb of yogurt, some pretzels, half a banana and if I can fit them in there some nuts. She agreed that was a start.
So here I go. Spending more time and energy on feeding this damn machine. Whoo! I’m going to a gastroenterologist next week. Maybe they can help.
Have you ever felt like a witch doctor could do more than a medical one? Had difficulty getting treated for a medical condition? Have you learned how to get doctors to take your concerns seriously? Please share your experiences in the comments so others may also learn how to get real help when we have real problems.
Thanks for reading, and good luck out there.