Mmm kale

I’m on this candida/anti-candida diet at the moment. This means no gluten, no sugar, no dairy, no caffeine, no alcohol. 1 portion of carb a day and bone broth as meal replacements when possible. No fruit. A handful of blueberries or half a banana, if I MUST have that sugar hit lol. It means almonds but not cashews, brown rice but not white rice, spinach but no cabbage. Sweet potato but only half a cup and meat but preferably organic. 3 tbsp of coconut oil a day and cider vinegar in your water before meals.  And trying not to take my supplements, that look exactly the same, at the wrong time of day. Avoiding processed foods – which means avoiding spreads, bread, biscuits, crisps, ANYTHING THAT’S BEEN THROUGH A PROCESS. It means preparing my breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in advance and not really being able to buy anything on the go.

Why am I doing this I hear your ask. I am no expert but I’ll tell you what I think I know. There’s an overgrowth of bad bacteria/yeast in my stomach causing an infection. These infections are quite common and can also occur in the mouth, throat and vagina. My gut bacteria is super imbalanced. This bacteria thrives on all the things I listed above so when I eat these foods, I’m feeding it. This ‘diet’ is to starve the bacteria of its fuel, to lessen the awesome symptoms I’m getting from them. We all know the link between the gut and brain by now blah blah blah. Poor gut health can cause depression, anxiety, mood swings etc. The gut is apparently home to around 80% of your immune system too (please don’t quote me on this) which means this yeast is changing my body in all kinds of fun ways.

This candida infection and other gut problems are not uncommon in people with eating disorders. Whether you’re depriving your body of essential nutrients (which I have most definitely done) or destroying your stomach lining binge eating (*puts her hand up again*), it causes a  lot of strain on the innards. So my body has been malnourished, fed wayyy too much or been overexerted over the past five years – big woop (Note: the far from healthy internal monologue which unfortunately has, will or is plaguing a LOT of people out there in this universe, for me, existed long before that – but more on that juicy stuff later).

So right now, I’ve got all sorts of things going on mentally and physically because of this infection that the nutritionist thinks I have. I have a love-hate relationship with food and I can’t wait for food to return to something I enjoy and love and make for the people closest to me. Binge eating disorder comes with urges and triggers and at earlier stages, viscious cycles of restricting and binging. I use food for comfort, to celebrate, to socialise, to express myself, to relax and have fun. I eat when I’m sad, happy, stressed, lonely, bored. Being prone to anxiety and overthinking and stress and worry is an understatement for me and makes this whole thing a tad harder, but I am well on my journey to learn how to manage all of that!

I’m still learning how to face and tackle my problems without using food as a coping mechanism, so call me over the top, but it feels like every few minutes, I have to consciously manage my thoughts and feelings and not turn to food. And right now, if you’ve seen me lately, I’m a bit of a hot mess. What’s really good is this whole gut-brain link is exacerbating the situation by making my emotions even more intense and out of whack than what I have achieved on my own yayyy. Not only are there cravings that come from this awesome brain of mine, but the bacteria are living things and they are causing these physcial cravings – I have been feeding this ‘monster’ for a long time now and giving into these cravings but now I need to stop and he’s not even a little happy about it. I’d never thought it was a physical thing too, I always thought I just didn’t have any self-control but my cravings for carbs, sugar and processed foods are a real thing and my nutritionist says so and she seems cool so I trust her.

I’ve been writing this on and off for a few hours now so don’t remember what my point was, but I guess it’s a good introduction to the “breaking the diet” and “erggh this is so hard”- themed posts that are coming.

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A big fat chunk of writing

For me, it started with: Fear of gaining weight. It’s definitely not something I’m proud of and it’s still something I’m tackling right now, but I think a lot of people in this world have issues with this and we’ve got to talk about it. Fatphobia sounds like jargon, but it’s a real thing and that’s what I’m going to call it from now on. Even if you’re an accomplished CEO woman or a 30-something year old man who works out, there’s this whole thing surrounding Fat. It seems like almost everyone has something against it, even if they don’t have an eating disorder. Fat is bad, right? People go to the gym to get rid of it; eat less carbs and sugar to avoid it; and buy the right clothes to hide it. Fat is considered unattractive, ugly and < skinny. In this society, it equates to lazy, unhealthy and a lack of self-control. Luckily, I’m equipped with more awareness, now that I’ve read articles, watched videos and listened to podcasts surrounding this topic. Because, what is wrong with fat? Who created this rule that says it’s bad, ugly… evil? Fat does not mean any of these things. We need fat to live, to function. Our body needs it and why does it matter if it shows. As long as you’re strong, healthy and happy, how can fat compete with any of that?

But what’s so messed up is even though I know all these things, my bad habits and thought patterns get in the way. A massive trigger for me these days is seeing my closest friends and family change their diet and exercise routine to be “healthier”. Sure, I definitely believe people can do those things to improve their health – but what’s always hidden amongst and intertwined with this whole motivation towards a healthier mind and body is weight loss. They want the number on the scales to go down, not stand still. Their arm fat to go away and their belly to flatten. I am naturally a very calculative and obsessive person; it’s in my DNA, it’s what creates a lot of my ED and I’m learning to manage it in all aspects of my life. But what I’m saying is that’s what I am almost always like in my head, especially when I unintentionally isolate myself from the world. I don’t talk to many people at work, just focusing on leaving 8 hours later and fixating on how badly I’m doing on my recovery journey. I postpone replying to friends’ messages, ignore people at home and go straight to my room after a binge. What has helped me over the years is seeing people let themselves enjoy food and not base their decisions on their looks. People who are more relaxed about food and exercise and don’t perceive X as a third of one’s daily fat intake or Y as the amount of sugar it contains. I used to and still sometimes restrict and calculate and obsess and I don’t want to be like that. Watching my friends enjoy junk food and exercise only when they feel like it, helped me do the same. They helped me see food as something to be enjoyed – and enjoyed with other people, not on the kitchen floor, stuffing biscuits down my throat because I feel guilty about binge I just had. They helped me relax about exercise, not to be so strict with it, seeing it as something to improve my mental health. But when I see those closest to me start restricting, watching what they eat, changing their diet and trying to fit in as many gym sessions in the week as possible, I see them.. prioritising their weight, thinness and appearance. I see this everywhere, at work, at the gym, in media – I know I don’t know the full story, see this through a negative lens and am extra-sensitive to these things because of my ED history and experiences but I get annoyed and angry. Again, not something I’m proud of as well as something I hope to be rid of in the near future, but yes, annoyed and angry at those that change their whole lifestyle so it revolves around their appearance. It’s exactly what I’ve been fighting, since my ED started years ago and everyone in this society seems to be convinced that that is what‘s most important in life. Not only that, I see myself binging. In my head, I’m the epitome of someone without self-control. I’m not trying hard enough or being strong enough to fight my urges to binge. I’m not actively trying to form those new neuropathways to create different habits and eliminate those that are damaging my mental health and my body. So on top of the frustration I feel about how twisted the world is, I feel guilty and less than those who can actually control themselves. People who have healthier mindsets, better eating habits and more self-control. Who are focused and driven to have a balanced diet and to be honest, a mindset towards food and exercise a billion times better than mine. It sounds ridiculous but I feel jealous, guilty, annoyed at the world, angry at myself with more of that shame and disappointment that I mentioned as the cherry on top.

Anyway, that’s a ‘clippet’ of what my eating disorder is. Of what binge eating disorder can be like for some people. There is so much more to say but I’ll get to that. I’m a bit of a rambler and when I get given a topic that means something to me, you’re in for a treat.

It was National Eating Disorder Awareness week last week

Everyone needs to be more informed about eating disorders. There is more to it than anorexia and bulimia; body image and losing weight; being skinny or obese. So many people have eating disorders and some might not even know it yet. ED appears in different forms, in people of different sizes, ages, genders, ethnicities etc etc. Yes, men get eating disorders. And yes, you can look and be a healthy weight and still have an eating disorder. There is so much for everyone to learn and I can’t wait to enlighten you all!

Eating disorders are all about secrets, control and habit.. sprinkled with (or drenched in) a bit of shame, guilt and embarrassment. It’s there when you wake up, go to work, see your friends and fall asleep – not just when you eat. It takes over your life and is packaged with a whole lot of invisible physical symptoms too – woop. As with all other mental illnesses, it’s a journey and a battle; you don’t simply eat a packet of crisps or lose a little weight to get rid of it.

Update time

I thought this blog was a good a place as any to journal about what I’m going through. It helps me externalise my thoughts, the website name still applies, plus I can’t be bothered to create a whole new one for my separate eating disorder ramblings. The stuff I say isn’t gospel and much of it will probably be wrong, coming from my negative, distorted view of things – but it’s just what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling right now. Maybe along the way I’ll be able to shed light on some ED stuff that you hadn’t thought of before and hopefully one day, this little page will return to being the overthink-y food blog that I planned it to be 🙂

Recipe: DIY Fudgy brownie mix

If you’re looking for an instant brownie fix after a long, tiresome day; you’re losing faith in humanity; questioning your purpose on this planet but also don’t want the sickly sweet store-bought mix which contains who knows what in it, then this recipe is for you. (To be fair I was actually surprised that I recognised most of the ingredients in Betty Crocker’s mix so Go you guys, but I mean “flavouring” – you could be a little less vague).

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If you know your brownie, you know that the melting of butter and chocolate is usually what gives it the rich, fudgy centre that you non-cakey-brownie fans crave. Because of this, it’s a bit of task getting that same texture for when you just want to throw a tray in the oven with minimal to no effort – no bain maries, no microwaving, no chocolate-stained sponges in the sink. In this recipe, it is not made dry or less chocolatey by the cocoa powder and is still rich with flavour/not greasy from the oil.

I’m super proud of this one so I hope it brings all the chocolatey baked goodness you need, on one of those days when you get home and need affirmation from a fudgy square of brownie.

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I really don’t like it when there aren’t any photos of what the recipe claims to be (I didn’t manage to snap a shot of them before they were given away) so I’m sorry, but please do trust me on this one! Fudgy, a little gooey in the centre, not too sweet, rich and chocolatey.

Recipe for Brownie Mix

Makes: 2 batches – 8 generous squares each

Ingredients:

~ 30 g milk chocolate

~ 30 g dark chocolate

120 g cocoa powder

160 g caster sugar

220 g light brown soft sugar

240 g plain flour

 

a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Shave/Chop chocolate using a sharp knife.
  2. Blend in a food processor until fine.
  3. Whisk the rest of the ingredients and place in a storage container.

Recipe for Brownies

Makes: 8 squares or 12 smaller brownies

Need: 23 x 13cm (aka 9 x 5″ / 2 lb / 900 g) loaf tin*

Ingredients:

10 tbsp flavourless oil

2 eggs

Half DIY brownie mix made above (mine came to about 405 g)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease loaf tin with oil.
  3. Measure out dry mix – getting rid of bigger lumps with the back of a spoon.
  4. Add oil and eggs.
  5. Use a spoon to mix until just combined.**
  6. Bake for 15-19 minutes.***

Notes:

* You of course don’t need this exact size but you might achieve a different texture if baked in a different tray – so be extra careful with timings when baking!

** Overmixing is not good. It will either aerate the mixture, making it cakey, or over-work it, making it dense and stodgy. As I said, not good.

*** Always bake for less time initially ’cause you can’t undo it once the oven has done its thing. It’s different for each one and  depends how cooked you like your brownie. If you like it like my sister, fudgy and a little undercooked/gooey in the centre, I went for 18-19 minutes 🙂

P.S. It works as a gift too!

 

Recipe: Like, the best gluten-free banana pancakes ever

I’m not gluten-free and definitely not vegan (I mean, have you not heard of pork belly) – so why are all the recipes I post annoyingly “vegan-friendly” or “gluten-free”?

I just want to post all the things worth sharing ok so get off my back. (Yes, I am actually talking to my own judgmental voice in my head rather than all those other people in the universe who so passionately care about my opinions). Because vegans usually have to deal with a lot of hidden avocado and the tinge of coconut in everything they taste. And gluten-free stuff (in my experience anyway) is either dry, heavy or stodgy (not exactly things you find yourself craving). So if I come up with something which doesn’t taste like the food restrictions you’re reminded of every morning, lunch time, afternoon tea-break or dinner then I’m sorry, I just have to post it.

Oh and (as all of my family know after being exposed to my, I’m sure, non-irritating rants about clean eating fads) I am definitely not promoting all this vegan and gluten-free dieting that people are doing for no apparent reason. Fortunately for you, I will not bore you with my ramblings today (perhaps another day) and will start typing up the recipe..

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Quick note: recipe vibe = crazy-quick/filling/not unhealthy/satisfying breakfast or dessert which you honestly don’t want to cover up with any syrup, chocolate or anything else that may detract from the natural sweetness and flavour of the Great Banana. I usually pour the whole mix into a small pan to make one GIANT fluffy pancake which can’t help but put me in a good mood in the morning.

So please PLEASE don’t be deceived by the pictures because I really just added the garnishes for decoration and eye-candy.

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Serves 1

Ingredients

1 egg

1 ripe banana

about 4 tbsp gluten-free self-raising  flour

Method:

  1. Mash up the banana.*
  2. Add the egg and whisk it all with a fork.**
  3. Mix in the flour. ***
  4. Fry in a pan on a low heat (wait a while until bubbles appear so you don’t end up witth raw batter) and until golden brown.

Notes

*the riper it is, the smoother you want it. If it’s not very ripe, make sure you leave large chunks of it unmashed, otherwise it won’t be sweet enough.

**the more time you have to whisk, the lighter your pancakes will be 🙂

***until thick lava-like consistency (although it really doesn’t matter too much. If you find out it’s too runny in the pan, it just means it’ll look a bit weird and people will start wondering what the hell you have on your plate but it’ll taste just as good so don’t sweat it.)