Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Comparing ourselves to our perceptions of others

Hi all,

Today I wanted to discuss my second therapy session from last Thursday with you. I was far less nervous this time round:  I think I was happier with my food diary this week and knew more about what to expect.

We started off talking about the Minnesota starvation study that my therapist had given me to read. She asked me what had most stood out to me, at which I listed out pretty much everything I'd read! In particular:

- That when the individuals had restricted and then were allowed to eat again they had massive urges to binge. That made me feel better about having urges to binge - less like an abnormal monster!

- They became obsessed with food whilst restricting, spending hours looking at recipes or packaging on foods - I could totally relate with this!

- Whilst restricting their calorie intake the participants experienced emotional changes, becoming socially isolated and moody. You just need to speak to my parents to confirm my mood changes...

- When increasing calories again participants experienced weight gain particularly around the stomach area, and this took time to redistribute...but it did redistribute. In fact all participants recovered in all areas, but it took time.


The therapist used this to make me think about the effects that not eating enough might have on me, why I might be binging, and the journey and symptoms I have ahead of me.

One thing I've noticed is that she won't point things out, she'll raise something and leave it in the air for me to think about, both in and out of the session. As she said, most of the work takes place out of the sessions. 

We also talked about binging, and how this might just be my body craving food, even when I'm not hungry. I'm going to try and book a session with the dietitian they have at the practice to discuss what my eating should be like, and what my current eating patterns could be doing to my body. I've been doing a lot of thinking about binging since my session, and I'm going to write a separate blog post on this at a later date.


We spent some time looking at my food diary and discussing how the words "feeling fat" kept occurring. This was something I found particularly difficult to explain, and is something I know we'll delve into again. We discussed why I set myself arbitrary calorie allowances, and how I feel when I exceed this. I talked about how I compare myself to everyone walking down the street, thinking how in control all these people must be, how perfect a life they must have to be able to look like this.

As my therapist pointed out, how do I know that these people haven't just had arguments with their boyfriends, that they don't live off diet soda, that they don't treat people horribly. All these ideas about people who are skinny leading lives of perfection are ones that MY brain is putting on other people. Not everyone is thinking in the way I do, it is my brain, that we all know is disordered, thinking things that may also be disordered. Just because one woman looked great in skinny jeans, why does that mean she's better than me? And even if she is all these amazing things, why does that matter to me? It's not stopping me from having all of those positive personality traits, and I don't have to be unhealthily skinny to have those characteristics anyway.


I think this is something that is going to take me a while to change my thoughts about, as these are ideas that have been ingrained in my head for a very long time, and continue to be reinforced by all the magazines we read and TV we watch. But I will get there!

So my targets for this week were to start thinking differently about people and to question myself every time I compare myself to someone else based on weight. This is hard, but at least every time I see myself doing it I now think about what my therapist said. That's a step in the right direction :)

I also wanted to work on stopping this binging, so I've been trying to eat a bit more. Again, this is something I'm going to massively struggle with, but I hope if I do it a bit at a time that will help. Unfortunately the first couple of days were binging...but the next couple of days I'm really going to knuckle down. Yesterday was a good start :) I'm going to couple this target with continuing to eat proper meals rather than snacking all the time, so I just need to choose one meal to up my calories at.

Something I felt I was starting to get somewhere with this week was listening to my hunger cues. This was something that I'd ignored for a long time, and my food diary showed I was often rating my hunger levels as low. That obviously shouldn't be the case when I'm not getting the required calories to allow my body to even function at a minimal level! I don't know why this is the case, but I imagine ignoring my hunger cues for so long probably made them a bit redundant, plus snacking all the time can't help. I'm trying really hard to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full, although still pushing myself to have 3 meals even when I'm not hungry (otherwise I'll never get anywhere!). Hopefully this will be something my digestive system will be thankful for!

Do you make judgements of strangers based on their weight?

E x

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