Starting out snacking

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If you’re at the point where you are feeling able to introduce new things into your diet, then I know you might feel both excited and daunted at the same time (I know I did!). Because I didn’t have the proper medical support I needed as I was getting better, I decided that the best way to recover and heal my body physically was simply to put weight on. I was purely focused on weight, and still didn’t love myself enough to want to look after my body. So I stuffed my face with junk food and slowly I watched the number on the scale rise until I was at a ‘safe weight’.

Aside from the obvious negatives for my mental wellbeing through all this, it was also harmful for my damaged body. My body had been through something incredibly distressing – yet at the time I was too young (and too poorly) to comprehend that. Looking back now with the knowledge I have of the human body and how it works, I am astonished that I didn’t do more damage not only due to the Anorexia, but also due to the way I recovered.

I know that from a professional perspective recovery of all types should be encouraged and I would never tell you to ‘eat this’ or ‘not to eat that’. As long as you are repairing your body, improving your relationship with yourself and food and rebuilding your life, then that is all that matters. However I do like to think that if we have a choice in what we eat, we could make some nutrient-rich choices which will nourish our desperate bodies and give us the helping hand we need as we recover. It’s only in recent years long after recovery that I have become especially interested in nutrition – and without that knowledge, I genuinely believe I wouldn’t have the energy to run my business, write this blog or finish my books.

I always found the concept of snacking really difficult whilst I was unwell and so I had a think about snacks you could introduce into your diet which aren’t too frightening for you mentally, but physically have plenty of fantastic benefits for your body and brain. Here’s my list below of my top 3 snacks you could try – as always if you have your own to add, please contact me!

Whole Milk: I love milk. It really has been a saviour for me in recent years when I have been unable to eat because of my IBS – because it contains lots of vitamins and minerals in addition to healthy fat and energy. No, it is not ideal to substitute food for milk – however I think milk really does have its place as a snack. I love throwing mine in a blender with cocoa powder, protein powder and collagen powder.

Wholesome Bars: Recently I discovered Fossil Fuel bars – and fell in love. I thought they’d be perfect for this post because I love ‘fast food’ which is delicious, easy to eat and 100% nutritious. They are similar to current offerings on the market but what I like about them is they are larger in size and pack a real flavour punch. They have no nasty ingredients in them but they do offer plenty of energy – so this means that if you are panicked or don’t feel able to tackle food on a given day or at a given mealtime, you can snack on one of these knowing it’s MUCH better than nothing.

Cheese: I often snack on cheese if I’m pushed for time and starving hungry. I know some of you might be HORRIFIED that I have suggested cheese because of its fat content but as you will know if you have read Recipes for Recovery, fat don’t make you fat. You don’t have to have lots of cheese to get a decent hit of energy and taste – so I think this is an especially good one for anyone who is frightened of quantity rather than the actual content of what they eat.

Do you have any snacks you are rediscovering currently (or have you tried any of the above?) If so, please get in touch!

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Guest blog post – Good Mood Food

I was so pleased and honoured when Good Mood Food initiative asked me to write a blog for their brand new website recently!

Social enterprise Good Mood Food is all about reaching people through tasty, nutritious food. Food is social – it brings us together – and I know that whilst obviously Anorexia ruins that by nature, there are other mental illnesses which can prevent us from being able to eat properly (depression and anxiety disorder from experience for starters). They cater for everybody (excuse the pun!), providing buffets and meals for corporate and commercial clients in addition to events – all whilst supporting fantastic local charity work. Any profits made are re-invested into Manchester Mind – a charity incredibly close to my heart who do lots of incredible work here in the North West.

I’m so pleased to be part of it and to have been featured on the website in this way! The blog includes a couple of recipes from my upcoming book – you can read it here: http://goodmoodfood.org/blog

Whilst you’re over there, why not take a closer look at what Good Mood Food do?

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Coming out of an EDU – What Now?

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So you’ve been discharged. What now?

A friend inspired this post when whilst chatting about her recovery and her imminent discharge from the EDU she has been in for several months, she mentioned that her relationship with food was still far from ideal. She didn’t say it in so many words, of course – it slipped out – we’d been talking about what she liked to eat and she mentioned she had got really into Angel Delight recently. She liked to have cheese or ham sandwich at lunch and then have some Angel Delight. ‘But then sometimes I’ll have ham and cheese. If I have both then obviously I can’t have the Angel Delight.’

So I said, ‘Well, you can have the Angel Delight even if you have both sandwich fillings!’ Her face said it all and she shook her head. The concept of ‘going over’ her given allowance was too much and there was still immense pressure there to keep strict control over what she was eating – the fear of going over the specified amount.

This all worries me massively because after 6 months of intensive therapy and close monitoring, the core issue is still very much present. This isn’t her first time in an EDU, either. It makes me feel as though we are possibly not approaching this in the right way, as in an ideal world a person suffering from Anorexia wouldn’t be sent to fend for themselves when they are still struggling with the demon in their head which still likes (and is able) to take over. I feel as though my friend is being consistently let down, even though I realise that the longer you suffer with Anorexia, the harder it is to recover – as to put it very basically these are now habitual beliefs and behaviour which are hard to break one year in, let alone several. I realise that.

I can’t speak from experience on this one, as at the time of my illness, there were no specialist facilities I could go to – which is why I had to get better on my own with the help of my family. It’s daunting to say the least starting life outside the relatively safe confines of an EDU when you’ve still got that demon in your head knocking about somewhere. You’re only just aware of various strategies and disciplines which might help you to cope and to feel better.

So, I want to share some of the things I talk about in Tough Cookie here with you. When I thought about my recovery in depth later on, I realised that these were the things that had changed my perspective and ultimately changed my life, helping me to eliminate Anorexia for good. These are just short descriptions with bullet points which I hope are helpful – but if you’d like to learn more, you can see the book here.

– Focus on what you want (goals): To overcome Anorexia, you have to regain the goals it’s thrown away. It’s fine – you can retrieve them – they’re not gone forever! This can feel difficult when you have been so consumed with Anorexia for so long, however with a little help from others and a little consideration you can rediscover the things you wanted before you were poorly. I’m a visual person – so the best way to do this for me is to do a brain-storm or board on Pinterest or on large paper to properly see where I’m going and what it is I want to do. Have one list for short-term goals (attending a party, going on holiday) and another for long-term (having a relationship, getting a job, finishing your degree).

– Don’t be hard on yourself (or allow others to be): There’s an untold pressure on you to now recover or to ‘be better’ now you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in an EDU. Of course you and I know that this is a journey which is constantly evolving and can’t be defined as ‘Anorexic’ and ‘Better’. It simply just doesn’t work like that. You might experience pressure from family and friends who are so keen to see you well that they want to believe that this is the end of the road. You may also be putting pressure on yourself – but don’t forget that pressure was probably a contributing factor to your illness. Try to distract yourself with positive things and explain to family members and friends that this isn’t something which goes away overnight – and in fact the true ‘battle’ begins when you are back in your own home, as you are not supported or watched by EDU staff.

– Find some fabulous distractions: I talked above about ‘distracting yourself’. It’s a tactic I’ve used throughout my life for various reasons, and it’s a good one. What’s more, it helps you to feel mentally and physically better and can even get you working towards your goals. You may have forgotten the things you once liked, but have a think about some activities you could do which fill your days. There’s nothing worse than sitting around alone all day – that’s a recipe for Anorexia to creep back in and it’s frightening. Whether it’s reading a book, writing a novel, sketching, taking an arts or music class or watching a film with friends, make sure you’re slowly starting to fill your life with the things you love. Even better, spend time (no pressure!!) working towards one of your goals. For example, if you are still studying, spend a little time doing some research you feel you’d like to do or find interesting. If you want to start a blog, start drafting a few posts. If you’re into photography, research some books you could buy and a camera you could get to start on that path. Whatever your passion may be, fill your time with it.

If you’ve just been discharged from an EDU or are about to be discharged and are struggling, afraid you might relapse, then please continue to read the blog and don’t be afraid. You might feel alone coming out of an EDU – but you do have the support of me and Tough Cookie and the things you may have learnt during your time spent at the EDU. As always, if you have any questions you can always contact me.

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Stefania Ferrario: proud to be a model, but not proud of the ‘plus size’ label

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I came across this story this week and had to share it with you! Australian model Stefania Ferrario, who is a UK Size  6-8, recently posed with the caption ‘I am a model’ to demonstrate that with or without the plus (or the model status) she is a beautiful woman.

“I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size, and so I’m often labeled a ‘plus size’ model. I do NOT find this empowering. It is harmful and damaging for the minds of young girls to call a model “plus.” Let’s have models of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, and drop the misleading labels! I’m NOT proud to be called “plus,” but I AM proud to be called a “model’, that is my profession! #droptheplus”

Enough said!

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‘There is no wrong way to be a woman’ – Denise Bidot

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Beautiful plus-size model Denise Bidot has teamed up with Swimwear For All to create a campaign which runs in the same fabulous vein as Panache and Cacique’s recent advertisements empowering women and attempting to challenge current stereotypes surrounding body image. You all know how big a fan I am of this sort of thing!!

I can’t gush about this latest campaign enough, especially given what Denise herself says about body image:

‘There’s no wrong way to be a woman. It’s time to stop apologizing. I want women to feel confident and sexy by knowing that there’s nothing wrong with being yourself. Forget all the rules! I love everything about my body. Every bit of it … the cellulite, the stretch marks, everything that I thought at one point was an imperfection, I now realize is everything that makes me unique… curvy women shouldn’t apologize for anything. They should wear a swimsuit that makes them feel comfortable. It’s all about the confidence. They shouldn’t worry about anything.’

These inspirational words got me stopping and thinking – because although that’s exactly what I advocate, I’ve never heard it said so plainly by someone in the public eye like Denise. What’s more, all images from the campaign are unretouched.image

Hats off to Denise and to Swimwear For All – good work! You can see pictures of the lovely Denise from the campaign here:

 

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