Where I'm at, what I've changed and how I saved myself from my eating disorder.
Well, I've currently been focusing on eating clean for nearly 6 months. Pretty short in the grand scheme of things but my diet has quite literally turned upside down in comparison to how I was eating when my eating disorder was at its worst.
Lets give you a little back story. As you may have seen on the Healthy Hearty Wholesome homepage I suffer from a condition called Binge Eating Disorder. Although I didn't get an official diagnosis until 2019 I have suffered with Binge Eating Disorder for as long as I can remember. Now, BED isn't just over eating or the occasional binge, everyone likes a bit of unhealthy food and everyone overdoes it sometimes, that's completely normal human behaviour. BED is an addiction to food, I literally cant stress enough that someone with BED cant stop themselves from eating, even when they feel like their stomach really might explode. I remember times when food was the only thing that got me out of bed. I also remember times where I couldn't sleep because I was so excited about the next thing I would eat and had full blown breakdowns over the Chinese takeaway being shut. I never took photos of the food I ate back then but an average day would consist of something like this:
Breakfast- The only time I ate breakfast was when I dined out at Wetherspoons, I would always order their large Traditional Breakfast consisting of 2 sausages, 2 eggs, 3 rashers of bacon, 3 hash browns, baked beans, mushrooms, tomato and 2 slices of Toast with 3 portions of butter, this would be 1 to 2 times a week and was around 1500kcal per plate.
Lunch- Lunch would always start off as a sandwich, loaded with THICCCC slices of cheese, caramelized onions and sometimes ham and mayo too. Then I'd add a creamy high calorie yogurt to the mix, sometimes two. This would be followed by at least 2 packets of crisps. 1100kcal
Snack- Usually I wouldn't make it until dinner and would snack on things like crisps and biscuits all afternoon long and when I made my sons dinner I would double the portion so that I could have some too. Approx. 700kcal
Dinner- Dinners were my favourite part of the day, as I loved cooking I'd go all out with my indulgent recipes and most recipes would revolve around a huge portion or meat with an equally humungous portion of carbs, Full rack of BBQ ribs with 2-3 potatoes worth of chips for example and not a single veggie in sight. Approx. 1700kcal.
Snack- Would you believe me if I said it gets worse? After dinner I'd have a dessert, like an entire cake that should feed 4-6 or an entire pot of B&J's ice cream, I'd then polish off a multipack of chocolate bars or a big bag of sweets, I'd basically keep going until bed time. Easily 2000kcal consumed after dinner.
That's a total of 7000kcals. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. There would be the odd day where I was busy with other things or food was inaccessible but unless I was completely out of my routine this was a standard day.
<Literally, my facial expression.
You'll be pleased to hear, this isn't the case anymore and whilst BED will always be there in the background I'm now in control of what I'm eating. So to start with, I just started focussing on cutting out processed foods, taking inspiration from youtubers like High Carb Hannah and Sarah's Day to learn about how to eat with less of the nasties. I didn't think about quantities or calories at this point because I truly felt I would never be able to control my binge eating, but I could control where the food I was eating came from.
Things I swapped in the first few weeks:
White bread = Brown super seeded bread
Ben & Jerry's Ice cream = Chocolate Nice cream
Cheap hormone filled meat = Organic grass fed meat
The rare appearance of frozen veg = Organic fresh vegetables in EVERY meal
Regular cake = Skinny muffins
Sweets = Fresh fruit or Fruit Roll Ups
Frozen Chips = Homemade baked or air fried chips
Cooking oil = water
Sugar = Sweetener or Honey or Maple syrup
Cocoa powder = Cacao powder
Shop bought sauces = Home made sauces.
Once I started this way of eating I had so much more appreciation for not only the taste of food but the nourishment that food held and my snacking tendency's were becoming less and less and because many of the foods I had swapped were coincidentally lower calorie I was loosing weight. By the end of the first month I had lost over 1 stone (Its important to remember that you shouldn't aim to loose more than 1-2lbs a week) It was around this time that a youtuber I had been following explained how they looked at their food as fuel. Instead of looking at a plate and thinking, chicken, potato, broccoli and carrots they see protein, antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C, Vitamin A and so on. They explained that when you train your brain to see fuel instead of food then healthy eating gets a lot easier, you stop craving the things you previously wanted like chocolate and sweets because they just have no benefit to your body, they don't provide you any nutrition and you don't need them in your life at all. I never thought this could be true but it really was, it was like a light bulb moment in my head. By this point I had been cleaning up my eating for around 2 months and I felt like I was in control of my eating enough to start looking at my Macros and all round nutrition. I downloaded MyFitnessPal, a calorie counting app that had helped me loose a significant amount of weight in the past. I logged all the food I ate and regularly kept tabs on my nutrients. As organic grass fed meats are very expensive and sometimes hard to find in the UK I found I was greatly reducing my meat intake and most of my meals became vegetable based. This meant that I was starting to lack protein and iron. I bought a low calorie protein shake powder to combat this whilst I searched for a long term solution. That long term solution was Broccoli, Spinach and more Beans (Check out why Beans are so good for you here) another option if your facing these problems is products like marinated tofu and Quorn however these products aren't suitable for clean lifestyles and I haven't mastered homemade tofu yet.
What does my food diary look like now:
Breakfast - Okay so I'm still terrible at eating breakfast but I squeeze in some porridge with honey and fresh berries at least once a week. 350kcal
Lunch - Lunch is usually either a Tuna salad sandwich or a Hummus salad sandwich. No extras. 500kcal
Snack - I avoid snacking now but if I do it will either be a piece of fresh fruit or a Skinny Muffin if I feel like treating myself.
Dinner - Dinner generally revolves around vegetables and beans, I'll have stir fry vegetables at least 3 times a week, adding in Chicken or Prawns if I haven't got enough protein from the veg and bean burgers have also turned into a weekly staple. Regardless of what I eat I make sure my plate is 50% vegetables as a minimum.350-700kcal
Snack - Occasionally I will have a Cacao hot chocolate before bed but other than this I have completely stopped snacking after dinner. 50kcal
I now total anywhere from 1250kcals - 1600kcal a day and loosing weight steadily although the biggest benefit I've seen from changing my diet is how good I feel, I have so much energy in comparison with before and my mental health is the best its been in years.
As I've mentioned before, everyone's at a different place with their clean eating, for some people its a brand new concept and they're just making small changes whilst other people are clean eating veterans and know all there is to know. I'd like to to think I'm somewhere in the middle. If you want to check out more of my clean eating tips, check out Clean eating 101. I still have a long way to go with much to learn and many things I'm planning on changing in the future.
What have I kept the same and will I change it in the future:
Shop bought bread. This is a short term goal of mine, whilst I love making my own bread I haven't yet been able to make one that you can easily calorie count. Not only is shop bought bread full of added sugar and preservatives but it also uses flours that don't sit well with most clean eaters. This is my top goal for the next few months.
Flour. Flour is a real tough one for me. From what I understand the healthiest types of flour are essentially flour substitutes made from milled nuts or oats. When I use flour in recipes its there to serve a purpose which flour substitutes just wont fulfil. Next to this is wholegrain which I am slowly weaning myself onto but if I told you I loved it, it would be a lie. I hope to start experimenting with oat flour in the future.
Sweetener. Sweetener and other sugars are a real catch 22 for me. As I'm now calorie counting as well and trying to loose weight I can't justify using honey or maple in all of my recipes, I only use them where the thick sticky texture is needed and subbing any other sugar for Sucralose Sweetener as its virtually calorie free. I'm well aware than artificial sweetener is probably the most unclean food on the planet but right now its invaluable to me. I hope to swap for monk fruit sweetener in the future but as it has to be imported from other countries is has a crazy price tag and my budget doesn't stretch that far.
So that's where I'm at now, I've come so far but I've also got a long way to go. Its important to remember this is a lifestyle change, not a diet, its not something that will ever be over or something I will finish. I'll give another update in a few months, who knows what else will change by then!