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My first blog

I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons as a kid and last year I went vegan. Veganism is something I am passionate about as it saves animal lives, lessens the strain on our environment and helps humans too.

Currently, I am in recovery from bulimia, anorexia, and other mental illnesses. I am weight restored, with more work to do. At the start, I had to gain weight to save my life. I achieved this at home with the support of my family and the eating disorder team. While my family were very supportive of my veganism, the treatment team only accepted it fully when I had gained weight and they were discharging me.

The lack of information I was given about vegan nutrition meant I had to learn for myself. The online world of nutrition is riddled with ‘clean eating’ fads, restrictive diets, and food shaming. It was easy for me, in an already disordered mindset, to get swept into this world. I watched all the health documentaries and adopted a whole food plant based diet. While I have nothing against eating what makes you feel your best (if you’re not causing harm), I stopped eating processed food as I was terrified of what it would do to my body. My restrictions carried on. I gave up gluten, ditched soy, stopped eating flour and avoided high GI fruits. I couldn’t eat out at restaurants and baking lost its enjoyment. I couldn’t live like this. I chose to recover.

During my recovery, I found the intuitive eating movement. An anti-diet movement that taught me that not one single meal would cause an illness and one day of ‘unhealthy’ eating wouldn’t lead to a nutrient deficiency. Health isn’t just down to what you eat and how much you exercise. It is about whether your needs are being met. We have physical needs but we also have psychological, emotional, and social needs. Allowing myself to eat a fun, balanced and varied vegan diet benefits my mental and physical health. I’m still a work in progress but this movement of food freedom and listening to my body, opened my eyes to an alternative way of eating and living. This is the way I want to live my life.

This blog is about living ethically whilst looking after ourselves in a balanced and intuitive way. I am writing this blog because this was what I was searching for when I was first in recovery. Self-care is vital and so is caring for others. We don’t exist in a vacuum. Our choices affect those around us, animals, and the environment. This revelation was overwhelming at first but then I realised, I had the power to choose and I think we should choose kindness.

 

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The disorder we don’t speak about

Trigger warning, in this post I talk about self harm and suicide. If reading about these subjects is difficult for you, skip this post and stay safe.

I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (bpd) when I was 18, but it was talked about when I was 16 and first got in contact with the crisis team. Before I was 16 I had only heard of personality disorders in the case of serial killers with antisocial personality disorder, also known as sociopaths. You could imagine my fear when I was told my diagnosis. Does this mean I am a bad person? Borderline personality disorder affects more people than schizophrenia and bipolar combined but it rarely makes its way into our discussion of mental health. BPD is also called emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) which some people prefer while others find it just as damning.

So what is BPD? BPD presents in many ways. At its core, people with BPD have intense emotions which they struggle to deal with, an unstable sense of self and unstable relationships with other people. Often these people will use self harm, alcohol, drugs, eating disorders and other maladaptive coping mechanisms to function. When they are not feeling anxious, angry, depressed or hyperactive those with BPD may feel numb and emotionless. This emptiness is so intense that they may even question if they exist or if they are alive. Impulsivity is another hard to control aspect of BPD. This could be impulsive shopping, sex, drug and alcohol abuse, reckless driving or binge eating. Identity issues cause people suffering to question who they are, and change depending on who they are with. Finally, if all this wasn’t enough people with BPD have chronic relationship problems and fear abandonment. Borderline personality disorder often causes those suffering to self harm or attempt suicide. As many as 10% of those with BPD successfully commit suicide. This is not an illness to take lightly, those with BPD need support and therapy. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) helps many people learn how to cope better with this disorder and go on to live fulfilling lives. No medications are licensed in the UK to treat BPD however meds can treat comorbid depression, anxiety, psychosis and other serious symptoms.

People present differently with this disorder. In the summer of 2015 I started self harming. Fresh out of high school and I felt so empty. Throughout the day I faked smiles and emotions but inside I was dead. Terrified, I didn’t tell anyone the reason I started cutting was that I couldn’t feel my limbs. I felt so detached from my body and my life. Self harming helped me feel ‘real’, ‘alive’ and in control of my unstable mind. This emptiness soon was replaced with suicidal depression and anxiety. I was prescribed propranolol and after that fluoxetine but nothing helped. Day by day, hour by hour, I am flung from one intense emotion to the next. At times I feel on top of the world, so happy and excited I laugh uncontrollably and speak at the speed of my racing thoughts. I can’t sleep as I have loads of energy and so much I must do. Other times I struggle to leave my bed, I cry a lot, sleep a lot and don’t enjoy anything I used to. Filled with hopelessness I attempt to kill myself. My anxiety may only last hours to days but leads me to physically run away, have a panic attack or cause me to be paranoid. While I usually turn my anger on myself, I sometimes explode with rage, swearing and breaking things. Between these intense episodes I generally feel unreal and empty. I struggle to define myself and my likes and dislikes can change when I am with new people. I can function like this but still feel detached and self harm often. I can fake being okay, and do generally that, pushing down my feelings so even I don’t realise they exist until I explode. While I haven’t had many relationships, I struggle with the feeling of being alone and I’m terrified of being abandoned by my friends and family.

Living with BPD is a challenge but I get by and I have found medication to help. I’m currently on the waiting list for DBT and I’m optimistic that it will help, as it has helped so many others. I have found it helpful to take each day as it comes and to surround yourself with supportive family, friends and professionals. BPD doesn’t have to be a death sentence and it doesn’t mean you are a bad person.

Resources on BPD:

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/
  2. https://www.rethink.org/diagnosis-treatment/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd
  3. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/#.Wo3AhGhl_rc
  4. https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/category/blog/personality-disorders

Tips and resources for new vegans

Image from mercy for animals

Disclaimer, I’m not a professional and have only been vegan for just over 1 year. This post is written based on  my experience and information I have read. I share resources of bloggers with more experience than me and dietitians who know what they are talking about.

Tips for new vegans

Tip #1

Start with meals you recognise. This might mean swapping meat burgers and sausages for their veggie alternatives or swapping beef mince with soy mince. Vegan alternatives are nothing to be scared of, they are often rich in protein and a great replacement for their animal based counterparts. Using replacements makes transitioning to veganism easier and allows you to still enjoy the meals you previously did.

Tip #2

Add variety to your diet. This may mean trying new meals. There are many cuisines to try out from Italian to Asian. Maybe test a new meal each week. Try different fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, starchy vegetables and nuts/seeds. Similar to trying new meals, adding variety can make your meals more interesting but also means you are more likely to get enough nutrients.

Tip #3

On the topic of nutrition, all vegans need to supplement Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and usually, iodine. You can eat or drink fortified foods and plant based milks but it’s always safer to get a supplement.

Tip #4

Eat enough from the food groups. Virginia Messina (the Vegan RD) recommends you eat a minimum of 5 servings of non starchy vegetables, 4 servings of grains/starches, 3 servings of Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soy foods and seitan),  3 servings of fruit and 1-2 servings of nuts/seeds. She also recommends everyone has a source of omega 3 in their diet and 6-8 servings of calcium rich food. For more information on vegan nutrition see the resources further down. I find making balanced meals the best way to ensure I’m meeting my needs without being obsessive. For every meal I have a serving or more of grains/starches, legumes, fats and fruit/ vegetables. Not every meal has to be balanced as long as the majority of your main meals are. Personally, I find using fortified vegan cheeses and milks a great addition to my diet as they are rich in calcium and some vitamin D and B12. One serving of fortified plant milk counts towards 2 of your 6 servings of calcium rich food. Some vegans make their own cheeses and milks, however, these won’t contain sufficient calcium so it’s a good idea to have these on occasions but not to depend on them for your calcium.

Tip #5

Take it at a pace you are comfortable with. Some people go vegan overnight, whilst others it takes months to years. Remember going vegan is a goal and as long as you are making changes you are doing well. If you can’t adopt a plant based diet right now you may be able to buy cruelty-free makeup and work from there.

Tip #6

Start where is best for you. Some people ‘veganize’ their diet first while others start with clothing, makeup or household items. For people in eating disorder recovery, especially, its a good idea to start from the non-food side of veganism until you are ready to go vegan fully.

Tip #7

Avoid negative online spaces. Everyone is a work in progress, no one is better than anyone else. Find online spaces which offer a community which raises up its members instead of tearing each other down. Some vegan online groups are very diet shaming. If you are sensitive to this talk, as I am, find a better space. The vegan warrior princesses have an amazing space for vegans, old and new, to talk about veganism and other social justice topics. They also have a rule about no food related posts which is great for those in eating disorder recovery.

Tip #8

Learn to cook and bake. Making meals from scratch is a much more cost-effective way of eating what you want. There are lots of great recipe websites online for anything you can think of made vegan. My favourites must be vegan chocolate chip cookies by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or vegan pizzas and parmesan by the Minimalist baker.

Tip #9

Don’t beat yourself up for messing up. It’s common to make mistakes, this doesn’t make you any less vegan, it makes you human. Learn from it and move on.

Tip #10

Center your veganism around animals and ignore all that diet culture rubbish. Veganism is a lifestyle choice which rejects the notion that animals are commodities and for human use. By being vegan you are treating all animals (including humans) with compassion. As animal agriculture plays a big part in climate change you are also helping the environment. While plant based diets are associated with good health outcomes, a vegan diet isn’t the only healthy one. Food and body shaming should have no place in veganism. This behaviour is not only hurtful, but also unnecessary as veganism has nothing to do with health. Eat your vegan donuts in peace and realize that variety and balance make a healthy diet, not one based on unnecessary restrictions.

Tip #11

Support human rights issues as well. There are many other social justice issues which are important, not just animal liberation. It’s vital that we make our vegan spaces safe for minorities and people who would otherwise be left out of the picture. Make sure you are fighting for everyone’s rights not just non-human animals.

Resources for new vegans

Recipe blogs

Lifestyle blogs

Vegan nutrition resources

* resources I use most

Vegan dietitians

Websites for general information on veganism

How to survive a depressive episode

After having a great summer I found myself falling into the depths of depression. Suddenly, I didn’t enjoy anything anymore and I struggled to be positive about my future. As the weeks of August went by, I felt more and more exhausted and unhappy. It was as though I was moving through treacle. By the end of August I decided I couldn’t go on like this and I tried to kill myself. This lead to me being admitted to a crisis inpatient psych unit. After being inpatient for a few weeks, I had another attempt and landed back at the same ward. Again after being discharged I still couldn’t cope and ended up in hospital. This time I was admitted to an adult acute mental health unit for a couple of months. This last stay really helped me get more stable. I’m now on medications and have a lot of support in the community. I’m doing a pre-DBT course called ‘life skills’ with the hope to start DBT soon after I finish. I have already learned a lot about surviving a depressive episode, the most important being to seek help. This could be from family, friends or professionals. It is vital that we don’t struggle alone. Here are some other ways in which you can practise self care when you are feeling low.

The first tip I have is to make your self-care routine very simple. This might mean stripping back your skincare routine etc. When you are depressed its likely you have limited energy to do activities, so it’s invaluable to prioritise the tasks which give you the most benefit (e.g. making meals or sleeping enough).

Have a plan in place. A good strategy is to prepare a ‘self soothe’ box filled with items for all your senses. This could be scented candles, strong mints, play doh, a fidget spinner, shells, hand cream, herbal tea sachets, cute animal pictures, photos of family/friends, notes written by loved ones, bath bombs and many more. Numbers of people to ring is also a good idea. This could include numbers off family/friends, your treatment team/ crisis team, the Samaritans and other mental health helplines. I like having a notebook and pen in my self care box as journalling is a great way to gain more insight into your mental health and to see the thought patterns you fall into when your distressed. Distraction activities such as a pack of cards, colouring in books and puzzles are wonderful examples of activities which can take your mind off your negative thoughts and low mood.

If therapy is available to you I’d encourage it. Even if you don’t have access, self help books (especially ones based on CBT/DBT) are good at teaching what you would learn in therapy. It does aid your recovery to have someone to talk to about your struggles though. This doesn’t have to be a therapist, it could be a friend or family member. Therapy or self help books may teach you some coping mechanisms. Practise these skills regularly so you can use them when needed. Many people find mindfulness invaluable when dealing with depression and other mental health struggles. This could be in the traditional way, mindful meditation, or it could be doing an activity or playing a game mindfully. I prefer the latter as I find focusing on my breath or body stressful. Everyone is different so go with what works for you.

Nutrition and hydration are often overlooked when you are in the depths of depression. It is vital for physical but also mental wellbeing that you drink enough, eat a balanced and varied diet and also supplement vitamins/minerals. To make eating achievable in a depressive episode, go for frozen meals, ready meals, prepared meals and quick homemade meals. Having frozen meals made up of protein, complex carbohydrates, fat and vegetables are handy for a quick and nutritionally balanced lunch or dinner. Cans of fruit, vegetables and legumes (beans, lentils and peas) are just as healthy as their fresh opponents. They also have a longer shelf life and require less or no cooking. Pick unsalted versions when possible. Pre cooked grains are also a brilliant addition as they are fuss-free, requiring no cooking or preparation. They add complex carbohydrates to meals. There is no shame in buying ready meals but cooking home made meals tends to be cheaper. If you enjoy cooking, this process can be made easier with ready made sauces, quick cook rice or noodles or pasta, and frozen or fresh pre cut vegetables. For protein add canned or pre-cooked legumes, frozen soy (or beef) mince, frozen edamame beans, veggie (or meat) sausages/ burgers etc.

I came off my medication without consulting a doctor. I am back on medication and see now that stopping on my own was not a good idea and is really unsafe. There is no shame in taking medications for mental or physical health. You do what keeps you sane. If you find your medication aren’t helping and/or is giving you a lot of side effects, contact your doctor or treatment team. Taking medication as prescribed is self care. If you don’t feel safe to have a lot of medication with you at one time ask if you can pick it up weekly or even daily. If this isn’t possible see if a family member or friend can look after your medication and give it you daily. At the end of the day you have to do what keeps you safe.

When I am depressed I really hate washing. Gross, I know, but there is nothing worse to me when I’m down, than getting out of bed and having a shower. If you are like me, then I have some tips for staying clean  when you can’t motivate yourself to shower. Firstly, break your routine into smaller achievable tasks. Instead of having a shower maybe wash your hair or clean your teeth. Once you’ve done one task, congratulate yourself and rest or do something else. I find making having a bath into a nice experience can make it more possible. This might include having bath bombs or bath oil, playing music in the background, or having scented candles.

Get some fresh air and sunlight. This is hard, especially if you live in a country, like the UK, which always seems to rain. And I mean always. For those groggy days or if you can barely leave your room, try opening your curtains and opening a window.

Everyone’s bodies require some sort of movement. Its perhaps an idea to find some movement which we can do and makes us feel good. This could be anything from yoga to basket ball to swimming to gardening. I find moving extremely difficult when I am depressed. It’s crucial that we aren’t too hard on ourselves. Any movement is fine. Even if we are just walking up and down the stairs. Sitting less and moving more is our goal.

Take a break. If you are really struggling with any mental or physical health problem, it’s a good idea to take a break from life’s stressors. This might not be possible, but if it is, there is nothing wrong with taking a sick day for your mental health. You are more important than any job. To do your job or to study effectively we need to look after our health first.

Finally, I want to revisit what I recommended at the start of this post, ask for help! Asking for help can be very difficult, especially due to the stigma of mental illness. You don’t have to tough it out. You deserve to be happy and healthy. Asking for help isn’t weak, it shows maturity. The best person to go to is your GP. Be clear about what symptoms you are struggling with. I list my symptoms on paper before a Dr’s appointment as I tend to freeze up and forget everything as soon as I get called in. If, like me, you are already under mental health services, its a good idea to reach out to your team and let them know your struggling. Yesterday I got a new app called Moodnotes, this allows you to track your moods, emotions and thoughts. I have already been told I need to track my moods, as they fluctuate a lot, but I always forget. I hope this app will allow me to make sense and see patterns of my moods/emotions.

Why I dislike the term ‘real food’

What food is real and what is fake? The main reason I don’t like this term is that it is vague. Definitions differ from person to person, so I hope in this post to share my views and some views of others.

I tried to come up with a definition for ‘real food’, but I kept changing my mind, so I decided, all food is real food. Full stop.

But then, what is food? When I first think of ‘food’ I think of anything that offers our bodys nourishment, whether that’s calories (energy) and/or nutrients. But then I thought of sugar free mints, sure that’s edible but it doesn’t provide our bodies with much substance. So should we stop eating it? That’s the problem with definitions like these, we don’t just eat because we need fuel, we eat because its enjoyable and a way to connect with others and our culture. Eating mints taste nice and freshen our breath. In my opinion then, sugar free mints are food. Taking this in mind I have come up with a definitive definition for food. Food is anything that is edible and should be eaten. So plastic isn’t food but cauliflower is. So is deep fried doughnuts and salad and fruit juice. But then what can we eat? To answer this we must consider two questions.

Firstly can we eat/drink it without coming to harm, so is it edible?

Secondly, does eating/drinking it harm others? Most people agree that eating cats and dogs isn’t okay. Eating pigs, horses and other animals is also not okay as it causes suffering.

Who decides what a brownie is? While I have my views of ‘real’ and unreal food, many people disagree on what we call food. Can we call a brownie a brownie if its made with sweet potato and coconut sugar? Another definition of ‘real food’ is anything that is made with traditional ingredients. While on the surface this makes sense it is quite problematic. By limiting ourselves to traditional ingredients we stop exploring new and potentially great tasting foods. There are many reasons to swap old ingredients for a better alternative. For example, when making vegan brownies. By substituting ‘flax eggs’ for eggs, as a binder, we don’t compensate taste but we do save lives of male chicks and the suffering of female hens in the egg trade. It is key here, though, that we do no compensate taste. It is true that when recipes are altered too much they taste completely different. This tends to happen when we stray not from traditional ingredients but from the chemistry which makes up baking. So if we replace fat we applesauce (for example) we are messing with the basic structure of our brownies. While we shouldn’t be afraid of trying new things there is a certain enjoyment that comes from eating something that tastes ‘as it should’. This doesn’t have to be lost if we eat ethically or even if we have to eliminate ingredients due to allergies and intolerances.

Some people define ‘real food’ as something you have made from scratch but this puts unnecessary pressure on people to make their own food. Nowadays, time is limited and for families, in particular, having ‘processed’ and frozen meals makes time for other important activities like doing household chores or spending quality time with their kids.

Finally, other people class ‘real food’ as something with ingredients that only your grandmother could recognise. This cuts out many foods. In particular preservatives, flavour enhancers, E numbers and other modern day foods. Preservatives play a crucial role in extending shelf lives of products so they don’t go off. Flavour enhancers and some E numbers improve the taste and texture of the food so it is easily palatable. This is especially helpful with kids when getting them to try meals. Even ‘whole food’ ingredients like quinoa would probably confuse your grandmother, as food has moved on now, with so many more ingredients are available. Many of which are not only health promoting but also 100% real.

What is self care?

If you search the hashtag ‘#selfcare’ on Instagram you might be lead to think self care is just bubble baths, face masks and yoga retreats. While relaxing and treating yourself are key aspects to self care, they aren’t all of it. Self care is the way you meet your needs.

Human needs differ from person to person but generally we all require: physical/mental health, regular sleep, adequate nutrition, regular movement, clean water, clothing, good personal hygiene, shelter, safety, clean air and sunlight. We also require leisure time, variety, stability, growth/learning, connection with others, time alone, significance and contribution.

I am a big fan of Hannah Daisy’s ‘boring self care’ drawings which show the small things we can do to care for ourselves. For many people, me included, the usual image of self care on social media seems out of our reach. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Lush bubble bath, but when you are too depressed to climb out of your bed, even eating a meal or washing your hair is a victory.

So with Hannah’s drawings in mind I have compiled a list of ways you can meet your needs. There is no shame in having other people meet your needs if you aren’t able to meet them yourself. For example if you are physically disabled you might need help to shower and do certain tasks. That is okay.

  • Physical/mental health- take your medication as prescribed, regularly visit the opticians and dentist, reach out for help and see your gp when needed
  • Regular sleep- get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep a night
  • Adequate nutrition- get enough macro/micro nutrients and energy
  • Regular movement- don’t sit too long and move in a way you enjoy
  • Clean water- drink enough water each day to hydrate yourself
  • Clothing- have enough clothes which fit and you feel comfortable in
  • Good personal hygiene- clean your teeth, body and hair regularly
  • Shelter- have a safe place you can call home and keep on top of household payments
  • Clean air and sunlight- get outside and open the windows. Let fresh air and sunlight in.
  • Leisure time- have time to play and enjoy yourself. This could be starting a hobby or watching a tv series you love
  • Variety- have variety in the food you eat and the activities you participate in
  • Stability- be financially stable, invest in stable relationships and keep a routine
  • Growth- spend time learning something new,  expanding your world view and understanding of human and animal rights issues
  • Connection with others – spend quality time with the ones you care about
  • Time alone- spend time on your own to recharge
  • Significance- celebrate your individual qualities and remember you are worthy and important
  • Contribution- make a positive difference to other humans, animals and the planet

The inspiration for this post:

  1. 6 core human needs by Anthony Robbins: https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/6-core-human-needs-by-anthony-robbins/
  2. ‘Boring self care’ illustrations by Hannah Daisy: https://www.instagram.com/makedaisychains/?hl=en
  3. Hannah Daisy’s website: http://www.hannahdaisy.com/
  4. Post about Hannah Daisy’s drawings by Priscilla Frank:  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/boring-self-care_us_5914dabae4b00f308cf40a19
  5. Charity Mind about self care: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/self-care/#.WltWdShl_rc

Non-diet new year resolutions

This list was inspired after reading a post by Stephanie McKercher RDN, from the blog Grateful Grazer. Please check it out: https://gratefulgrazer.com/home/healthy-habits/. The post is about habits which can improve your health. My favourite habit is the last one, “think holistically”. Often, we forget that health isn’t just what we eat but how we look after ourselves in other ways, like getting fresh air, socialising and sleeping. This couldn’t be more true than when a new year starts and many people are going on a diet. We usually make new year’s resolutions which are vague and difficult to maintain, such as get healthy or get skinny. As most diets fail we are usually left feeling hungrier and more disappointed. We give up until next year.

Smaller more achievable resolutions are easier to maintain and can make a big difference in the long run. Instead of hating your body and using your limited willpower to change it, you could devote some time into improving your health and happiness in other ways. I have created a list of different habits which will improve your quality of life and/or the lives of others. Beware, the following list is long, it’s not about being perfect or doing everything. Pick one or two ideas which you feel would make the most difference to your life and/or the lives of others.

Mental/ physical health

  • Spend more time with your loved ones
  • Get out the house often, fresh air and sunlight is important
  • Everyday make a list of what you are grateful for
  • Dedicate some time each day to treat yourself, whether that is a bath, massage or watching your favourite show
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Get up the same time each day to regulate your sleep cycle
  • Have a shower or bath regularly
  • Brush your teeth 2-3 times a day
  • Wear sunscreen every day
  • Keep your home tidy
  • Stay on top of household chores
  • Write down positive affirmations and say them to yourself every morning
  • Learn something new
  • Make something
  • Start a club to meet new people
  • Quit smoking
  • If you use illegal substances, seek support to help you stop
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, or not at all
  • Start meditating even if it’s only 10 minutes a day
  • Practice mindfulness when you are eating or brushing your teeth
  • Regularly expose yourself to media which makes you feel good (clean out your social media)
  • Only own items which are useful or important to you, remove the clutter
  • Buy clothes which fit you and help you feel fabulous
  • If you are struggling with your physical or mental health, get an appointment with your GP
  • Take your medication as prescribed
  • Take any supplements you need (B12, Vitamin D, Iron etc)
  • Learn about Health At Every Size (HAES) and Body/Fat positivity

Movement

  • Stretch your body
  • Find a type of movement which you enjoy, this could be a sport or exercise class
  • Walk instead of catching the bus or driving
  • Avoid sitting too long by getting up regularly

Food and drink

  • Quit dieting, it rarely works and can harm your health and relationship with food and your body
  • Start eating intuitively (if this is possible for you)
  • Cook some basic meals from scratch
  • Learn how to bake
  • Make meals you enjoy
  • Sit down and eat with others
  • Chew your food properly, take your time and be aware of your senses while you eat
  • Drink more fluids
  • Make sure your diet is varied and balanced
  • Eat treats when you want them
  • Eat more vegetables: 
  1. Wrap your sandwiches in lettuce or other leafy veg
  2. Mix spiralized courgette with your spaghetti
  3. Add to sauces and blend if too chunky
  4. Grate cauliflower/ broccoli and add to rice
  5. Roast veggies as a side dish
  6. Blend into smoothie
  7. Eat a side salad with your main meal
  8. Add veggies to sandwich fillers
  9. Blend veggies in dips (e.g tomato hummus etc)
  10. Use veggie sticks to eat dips
  11. Add them to stir frys
  12. Add them to vegan omelettes and egg free scrambles
  13. Blend them in soups and add to stews
  14. Stuff mushrooms and bell peppers for a veggie entree
  15. Grate them and add to baked muffins, waffles etc
  16. Load pizzas with a variety of colourful veg
  • Eat more fruit: 
  1. Serve fruit with your dessert (e.g. ice cream and berries)
  2. Add to porridge, cereal or on toast
  3. Snack on dried fruit and nuts/seeds
  4. Eat with a dip or nut/seed butter (e.g apple and peanut butter)
  5. Blend into a smoothie
  6. Blend frozen bananas to make ‘nice’ cream
  7. Add to ice lollies and in ice cream
  • Eat more legumes: 
  1. Blend silken tofu into smoothies
  2. Use beans or lentils as a base for vegan burger, meatless balls and sausages
  3. Replace eggs with a tofu or chickpea scramble
  4. Roast as a snack
  5. Blend to create a dip
  6. Make omelet from chickpea flour
  7. Blend beans, lentils or tofu into sauces
  8. Add edamame beans or tofu to stir frys
  9. Replace mince with lentils or soya mince
  10. Blend to thicken soups and stews
  11. Add to side salads
  12. Stuff veg with beans or lentils
  13. Use chickpeas and other beans in brownies, cookies, pancakes etc
  14. Baked beans for breakfast, lunch or dinner
  15. Add to wraps either normal or roasted
  16. Mash and spread on sandwiches

Help humans, other animals and the planet

  • Volunteer or fundraise for a charity
  • Raise awareness of an important topic
  • Write to your local MP about an issue that bothers you
  • Buy cosmetics and toiletries which aren’t tested on animals and don’t contain animal products
  • Buy fair trade chocolate, bananas, sugar, coffee and tea when possible
  • Go vegan, or move towards veganism by buying less animal products
  • Buy faux/ synthetic fur, leather and wool
  • Do a random act of kindness every week for a stranger or someone you know
  • Donate items or clothes you don’t need to a charity shop
  • If you are looking for a companion animal, consider adopting from a rescue centre instead of buying off a breeder
  • Buy more clothes from ethical brands or charity shops instead of always going to high street shops
  • Reuse and recycle your rubbish instead of throwing it away (e.g. craft projects with toilet rolls, plastic bottles, cartons etc)
  • Reduce the amount of items you buy, ask yourself whether you really need it before you buy it
  • Use less electricity (e.g turn the lights off when you leave the room or put a jumper on instead of turning the heater on)
  • Use less water, this could be done by having showers more often than having baths
  • Walk or cycle instead of driving somewhere
  • Compost your waste/ food scraps
  • Buy second hand books and other items instead of buying brand new
  • Educate yourself on human/animal rights

 

How to prevent an eating disorder relapse

My recent lapse into bulimia has reminded me how much I value recovery. It’s tough, but so worth it. I want to be free from bulimia and anorexia. Reflecting on this minor blip has given me some ideas of ways to prevent relapses. While, this is not a complete list, it may give you some ways to promote recovery in your life and minimise lapses into old eating disorder behaviours.

Pro-recovery tips:

  • Eat regular meals
  • Drink plenty of water (or other liquid)
  • Have a good sleep routine
  • Spend quality time with others
  • Treat yourself and make some time for yourself
  • Regular movement in a way that you enjoy and isn’t obsessive
  • Meet your nutritional needs (enough macro/micro nutrients and energy)
  • If possible, eat when you are hungry or fancy food
  • Eat until you are satisfied (unless you need to gain weight)
  • Be aware of what triggers you
  • Surround yourself with media which makes you feel good about yourself and your body
  • Eat food you enjoy
  • Include processed foods into your diet
  • Eat a variety of different foods
  • Avoid ‘diet talk’ when possible
  • Have fun with food, it doesn’t have to be serious (cook/bake)
  • Take part in some non-food related activities (cinema, reading etc)
  • Be gentle with yourself, recovery takes time
  • Create a network of supportive family/ friends
  • Find a community, online or in-person, that can support your recovery
  • Take any medication you are prescribed
  • Get help for any mental or physical health problems

As mentioned in my last post, recovery isn’t linear and you are likely to have lapses on the way. It is up to you whether you learn from these or carry on using those eating disorder behaviours which could lead to a relapse. It’s a hard decision but you deserve a life free from the restraints of a eating disorder. 

To finish this post I want to remind you of how big an impact social media can have on your recovery. An important decision I made was unfollowing people who made me feel inadequate or unattractive. Whether its that model on instagram who seems to be #goals or its that person on facebook who is always telling the world about their ‘perfect’ life. Protect your recovery! You don’t need to be triggered unnessarily by your social media feed.

The web can be a great tool in recovery, it all depends on who you follow and the communities you surround yourself with. Here are some awesome people to follow on instagram: @taylorwolframrd, @laurathomasphd, @chr1styharrison, @gratefulgrazer, @delishknowledge, @youaintyourweight, @laurenmcaulay_, @bodyposipanda, @leximanion, @curvesbecomeher, @bodypositivememes, @ScarredNotScared, @selfloveclubb, @omgkenzieee, @makedaisychains, @selfloveliv, @themilitantbaker, @nourishandeat, @___halle_, @plantbased_pixie, @enjoytherj0urney, @leenahlovesherself, @fatwomenofcolor, @meandmyed.art, @my_life_without_ana, @beautifullyflawedbean, @fifteenkeats, @radfatvegan, @the_feeding_of_the_fox, @rebeccascritchfield, @thereallife_rd, @recovrywarriors, @positivebodyimage, @intuitiveeatingrd, @nourishedmindbody, @sundaesforthesoul, @marcird, @laurenkatnutrition, @drcolleenreichmann, @jennifer_rollin, @themindfuldietitian, @lacyjdavis, @rachealhartleyrd, @emilyfonnesbeck_rd, @cosmiccolette, @jessihaggertyrd, @meganbray_dietitian, @madeonagenerousplan, @antidietdietitian and many more.