I love cupcakes. Even though I’m more of a frosting person, if I found a really good cupcake, I’d — for sure! — eat the entire thing– if I was hungry. It’s not just because they are delicious, it’salso about the guilt-free message I send to my brain each time I allow myself to have what my body asks for when it is hungry. I can have my cupcake and be at peace with it too!
Back in my eating disorder days, cupcakes were one of the most forbidden foods. I believed they were a threat to achieving my “perfect,” “ideal,” “socially acceptable” body weight. I would only allow myself to eat a cupcake (or something similar) if I was bingeing or having an “I’m starting a new diet tomorrow” day. In my world of wanting to be “thin” and “special,” I believed the lie that so many of us are taught: that we cannot trust our body’s desires. I equated eating a cupcake to being something so bad to the point that I was bad. Yet it was just food.
When I got recovery from disordered eating, I had lost touch with my body’s signals. I wanted to never diet or think about food ever again. But everyone has to eat in order to survive so I had to learn ways to make peace with my plate. I understood that I required both structure (to help quiet the eating disorder) and freedom (to explore food choices) to reconnect to my body’s signals of hunger and fullness.
When writing Making Peace with Your Plate: Eating Disorder Recovery, Espra and I wanted to provide something visual, concrete and supportive to help our readers take back their power from food, while reconnecting with their body’s signals. We came up with the Structured Approach to eating, the foundation of our Nutritional Healing: A 3-Tier Approach™ model. When individuals understand and structure their nutrition, they are often surprised at the irony that, rather than feeling restricted by the structure, they may find it brings them a sense of peace and freedom surrounding their nutrition.
Here are a few steps by Espra Andrus, LCSW:
- Remove all “good” or “bad” labeling: Labeling foods can lead to restricting certain foods or amounts of food. This in turn sets you up for psychological and physical deprivation. Deprivation sets you up for cravings and overeating.
- Structuring Your meals: Structure the types, amounts and frequency of your eating around general time frames that work for you most days. Consider eating three meals and two to three snacks daily: This is a great way to get you back in touch with your body’s signals of hunger and fullness.
- Visualize food groups: Visually group food by grains, fruits and vegetables, and proteins. Both rice and cupcakes have grain elements, for instance. This increases the range of your food choices and better meets your body’s needs. It can be helpful to use a guide, like our “Making Peace With Your Plate” image or plate.
- Create a wide selection of foods: Allowing yourself to have choices within structure is a pathway to the sense of freedom that many people desire…we call it structured freedom.
So enough of dieting and bingeing and beating yourself over the head. Structured eating is your tool to making peace with your plate…and even with cupcakes.
Today, I will take steps towards honoring my body.
If I fall, I will simply get back up.
I can do it! It’s as easy as eating a cupcake…if my body asks for it!
*For more support on our Structured Approach, check out our physical plate that serves as a tool to help guide you within each meal Make Peace with Your Plate ®