When Less Isn’t More

Hey ladies, happy Sunday! It’s pretty happy for me because it’s my spring break! I’ve already been pretty busy, and I’ve only been home for two days. I’ll share some of what I’ve been up to in a later post, but for today, I want to touch on a serious subject. It’s one that’s pretty hard for me to write about, but I think it needs to happen.

You may or may not have noticed that over the past couple of months, my WIAW posts have been kinda…lacking. I’ve actually recently gotten a few comments about it that really opened my eyes to the issue–thank you to those of you who commented, because I really appreciate the honesty and concern. But anyway, I want to say that while I don’t post everything I eat in a day, I know that I’m still not eating enough. And it’s not a good thing.

It all started at the beginning of this school year. Over the summer, I was eating a decent amount and maintaining my weight. Now, I’m a small girl and don’t have a huge appetite but if I had to guesstimate how much I was eating then, it would probably be around 1400 to 1500 calories. However, once I got back to school, I was on my own, had a whole dorm to myself and I decided to take advantage of the fact that I could ‘get away with’ eating less. Despite the fact that I’ve been recovering from anorexia for almost 3 years, I still have a lot of body image issues and at that time, I was determined to lose 5 pounds, to get back to my pre-ED weight. Of course, I knew (and know) that this isn’t healthy–the weight I was at was deemed healthy by my doctor, but it wasn’t in the medically healthy weight range. I know BMI is a load of sh*t, but I was technically underweight. However, I didn’t see myself this way (and still don’t) and was desperate to lose some weight. So I started cutting back, to about 1000 calories a day, which quickly became less and less as the months went on. During this time, I didn’t weigh myself so I honestly thought I wasn’t losing weight, but instead of doing the smart thing and eating more, I was scared to eat more so I continued to eat less and less…and work out more and more.

A delicious dinner--Amy's veggie burger, half a Sumo tangerine, hummus and guacamole--but is it enough? Probably not.

I wouldn’t say in any way that my exercising became extreme–besides walking from my dorm to classes (for 30-60 minutes, depending on the day) I would do cardio workouts in my room for 30-45 minutes per day. So nothing big…but the problem is, I never gave myself  a rest day. I was determined to burn at least 200 calories a day through working out, so I had to do something active every single day. I told myself I didn’t deserve a rest day because I barely worked out compared to some people. I have not completely rested for a whole day since at least October…not a good thing! Of course, I had some days where I just didn’t want to work out, because I was exhausted from being out all day or I had a headache but I pushed through anyway. While I like to be active in some way everyday, there were definitely some times where I should have just taken a break, because I know my body was screaming for one. But I didn’t listen.

The bigger issue is the food, though. When I came home for the weekend right before finals last semester, I hopped on the scale, curious to see what it would say. I had dropped 3 pounds from the last time I was weighed by my mom in mid-October. Now, definitely not a huge amount, but considering I already was underweight, it wasn’t good. Needless to say, I was ecstatic (or should I say, ED was) so I decided to continue my restrictive eating. Over Christmas break, I somehow got away with eating less and by the time my break ended, I weighed myself again and I had dropped another 1 or 2 pounds. By this point, I was hovering right around my ‘goal’ weight–so was I happy? Heck no! Just like in my worst days three years ago, I wanted to see an even smaller number on the scale. Never mind that my BMI was now 16–I needed to make it lower.

Second semester so far has been stressful, to say the least. My classes are all upper-level courses, which means they are pretty demanding. I have spent way more time studying and reading this semester than I have so far in my year and a half in college, so I think that’s caused me to eat even less. It’s scary, because I’ve become obsessed with the numbers–I track my calories religiously on a tracking app, and seeing the numbers just fuels the fire. At this point, I would actually love to eat more, but I feel stuck in this rut. It’s become routine for me, which isn’t good. Whenever I eat an extra handful of anything besides a fruit or veggie, I freak out. Obviously, all these signs point to something really bad.

A snackplate--homemade vegan Caesar kale chips (recipe to come), tablespoon peanut flour paste, handful Whole Foods kettle corn, dried fig, 1 square Chocolove orange peel dark chocolate, handful PB & chocolate Puffins. This looks like, and seems like, a decent-sized snack, but maybe I'm struggling with portion distortion.

So here’s where I ask for advice. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and it’s the first time I’m meeting with this specific doctor, so she doesn’t really know my ED history, but I’m scared to death to see what the scale reads, because my mom will be there. I honestly don’t want her to make me go back to eating dairy and meat–it’s not because of veganism that I lost weight, but because I’ve been eating less. I know it’s possible to eat enough on a vegan diet, I just haven’t been doing it. And I want to eat more, but I just need the encouragement to do it. I feel like unless someone tells me that I really should eat more, that I can’t make myself do it because it’s become such a habit. I’m also scared that I’m going to have to gain the weight back, and I remember all too well how horrible that process was in the first place.

The thing is, I feel good eating the way I do now. Not the amount, of course, but I have opened my mind up to so many foods I used to fear, even just a few months ago. Now I’m okay with eating a square of dark chocolate every day, or other nuts besides almonds or higher calorie vegan things like tempeh and tofu. It’s just that I need to eat more of it. I’m just stuck on how to do that, and feel okay with doing that.

My first time trying a Chocolove bar--so good! I love the little bars because they're so cute, and the flavor combos all sound amazing. I'm glad I'm not scared of chocolate anymore.

Well, thanks for sticking with me through that monster of a post. I really hope it wasn’t triggering or anything, I tried to use as few specific numbers as possible while still being honest. I promise I’ll be back on Wednesday with a happier post, filled with tons of new foods I’ve tried and some recipes. For now, I just needed to get that out there, and be honest with y’all, since everyone is so supportive and since a lot of you have struggled with similar issues, I thought I’d reach out for a little advice.

I got my hair done (partial highlights and bangs) today and I love it! My hair is definitely one of my favorite features.

Have you ever struggled with not eating enough? What’s the most fun thing you’ve done this weekend?

26 thoughts on “When Less Isn’t More

  1. In my opinion, I think you’re eating the right foods (not all low cal and only veggies) for your vegan diet but you’re portion control is pretty small. Every time you hesitate to eat how much you really should be eating, think about how bad you don’t want to go back to that place anymore. Also, I think you should push your ED limits. For example: I just ate a crap load of oreos (and I don’t normally eat processed foods) and I read the back of the label saying that 2 oreos were 150 calories each. I intended to stick to 2 but I ended up eating around 8. As soon as I ate them I heard the voices “omg you’re so fat. you probably just ate 5894584390 calories just now.” Then I came to realization on how I don’t want to think like that and I got over it. I want to be a chef. Try every food in the world regardless of the fat and calorie content. But challenging ED like that has really helped me from the beginning. You can get through this Ashley! You can still have body that you accept, eat foods you love, and get rid of those voices. Slowly but surely. It may be hard but really just adding those extra tablespoons of nut butter, extra oz of chocolate, and filling out your plate with nutrient-dense (not low cal) foods. Also, I weigh 5lbs more than I did before I had ED and as much as I’d love to be that number (although it is in the healthy range for my weight/height) I don’t want to get in the habit of depriving myself of food and over exercising again. Gotta learn just to be happy with yourself! Especially because you’re like me and have a small frame you I know you WON’T get fat if you put on those extra pounds because you’re naturally supposed to be thin. Whew! Sorry for the long comment- just want you to feel like everything will turn out okay! Because it will and I know from personal experience.

  2. You have no idea how many hugs I’m shooting your way right now, friend. It takes guts to realize there’s a problem and to make a stand against it. I admire you so much for sensing that something was off and not just letting it consume you again. Kudos for taking action! 🙂 I was wondering a bit about some of your WIAW posts, so I’m glad you’re getting back on track!
    When I was initially in recovery, I had the hardest time with portions, too. It was like I was constantly plagued with “is this enough? too much?” With time, patience, and advice from my parents, it got a lot easier. 🙂 Ultimately, I would trust whatever the doctor says and listen to your body after a meal to see if you’re satisfied.
    I just want you to know I’m cheering you on 100%, you can beat this and get back to living healthy again! You’re a smart and beautiful girl–this tough semester and ED are gonna be shown who’s boss 😉
    Keep us posted on the doctor appointment!! ❤

  3. I so wish I could reach into the computer and give you a hug. I know it took a lot of courage to write that. Yeah, I know I commented… and I was hoping when I did, that you wouldn’t unfollow or decide to completely never talk to me again, etc. But people who’ve been there can get the sense when someone is struggling like that- and at the same time, we completely understand because we’ve been there and know where you’re coming from.

    You totally deserve a rest day! I’ve been crappy about taking them myself, and I can tell. I just can’t run 3-4 days back to back if I expect to be running in my 50s and 60s (I have friends who do!). College truly is one of the best times of your life, and I’m so glad I didn’t struggle with ED during it (I did struggle with other issues, but I can imagine ED would’ve held me back a lot more than the other issues). Once it’s gone, you don’t get it back.

    Your food does look yummy, just not enough. Good luck at the doctor- I hope it goes well, bc it’s always difficult having to explain ED to yet another physician (been there, done that, on Dr. #3 in 2 years). Definitely listen to what your body wants.

    • I’m actually so glad you did comment because I was kind of living in denial before that thinking I could just eat less without anyone noticing but like you said, people who’ve been there know.

      I really do want to work on this now because I don’t want to waste more of my college life. Last year was okay ED-wise but I had plenty of roommate issues. Next year I would love to just enjoy myself as much as possible!

  4. Scarlett says:

    It’s awesome that you’re owning up to this and seeing a doctor before you fall any further into the old ED habits. As someone living with anorexia and bulimia, I believe that all of us who have had eating disorders will continue to deal with compulsions and occasional behaviors, and what is important is that we’re able to recognize them and deal with them appropriately as they arise.

    Good luck with your doctor’s appointment and with working to get back on track!

    • I agree completely! I don’t think anyone can completely be free of all ED habits forever but as long as we make a conscious effort to fight against them, that’s what matters. Thanks so much for the comment!

  5. Ashley,my dear – I understand you SO well and reading this post made me tear up in the end because it hurts so much to know you are struggling with all that. I am well aware of how difficult it is to get rid of all these bad habits,especially after such a long time,but you need to realize that it doesn’t help you in any way to restrict and compenstate negative feelings and emotions with restriction. Or excercise.
    Your BMI,Ashley,is dangerous – it may be hard to admit,but I think you know yourself that you are risking your life every single day. And that’s making me so darn worried,sad and desperate!
    Darling,I really want to help you,I want to be there for you,encourage you,give you support and strength,but in the end,it is YOU who has to change something. As much as I wish I could do this for you,as much as I wish I could be the one saving your life,I can’t…
    Please,realize the danger you’re in,think of what you’re giving up and understand that you are worth the fight! You are precious,Ashley. Please do something. And if you feel like it,also write me an Email. I would be more than happy about this and will always be there for you,okay?

    • Oh girl, your comment means the world to me, really! It made me realize that I’m not just hurting myself but other people too and that is the last thing I want!

      I am so thankful for all your support on my blog and on Twitter–you are such a sweetheart! And I am going to start fighting again, because you and others have reminded me that I am worth it!

  6. I love your honesty in this post because I know it’s a hard topic to talk about. You should be very proud of yourself for opening yourself up to fear foods. On that token, like you said, if you know you’re not eating enough, then you also know you’ll need to find ways to eat more. Good luck at your doctor’s appointment…I know that you’re a tough cookie and can deal with whatever comes your way.

  7. I’m glad that you’re being honest about it, but you eat *very* little (everyone is different, but your whole day’s eats kind of sum up to one or two meals/snacks for me…). It’s great that you’re acknowledging that, though, and that you’re aware that your low body weight is dangerous (my school sends anyone with a 16BMI home, just on that alone, because it’s very, very low). It sounds like the ED is back, just in a different form, but I *know* you can kick it for good. Go Ashley! 😛

  8. Aja says:

    I have a huge problem with eating the right amount. On Friday my mom made me a bake potato and I thought that was dinner, so I wouldn’t have to eat dinner with my boyfriend and his family when he got home from college. But apparently, a baked potato is not dinner. I think it’s still debatable, but everyone else agreed that it wasn’t enough to be dinner. For breakfast I eat a bowl of cereal with no milk. For lunch I have a peanut butter sandwich. I have an apple in between breakfast and lunch and after school I have some yogurt and then whatever my mom is making for dinner. And I feel like that is so much but everyone else thinks I barely eat, which is probably true. Anyway, I wish you luck with upping your portions and everything else in your life.

    • I think we are really similar in how much we eat! Like I definitely think a baked sweet potato, with a little bit of nut butter, is enough for dinner. Maybe neither of us is really eating enough but I know what you mean in thinking it feels like so much–it’s so hard to eat more when it feels like enough already.

  9. Ashley,
    I am so so glad you are finally opening up and talking about this! I have been moving for quite some time now that you simply do not eat enough. And yes, I have told you a few times along the way but you and I both know that a change is not going to happen unless YOU want it to. Tons of different people can tell you that you need to eat more, exercise less, gain some weight, change habits and all of that… but if you are not ready to, well it simply will not happen.

    This is such a relief that you are understanding how much the ED is still there and that you are planning to do something about it. I am sooo proud of you Ashley, seriously lady. You just cannot be free of this illness without eating more and yes, it’s going to be really hard and feel AWFUL but PLEASE keep fighting and staying strong. I am tell you it’s worth it!

    And i f it helps to hear at all, I eat about 5x more than you and have not blown up like a balloon and gained enormous amounts of fatty, gross weight 🙂 My body is finally getting healthy again, I am starting to look like a woman, with some curves and all. Remember we are not supposed to look like teeny-tiny, skeletal sticks. Not so cute and not so good for us

    • Your comment is so amazing, thanks for originally bringing it up and making me really question my habits! I really love what you said in the last paragraph–gaining weight is a good thing for me right now and logically I know I won’t blow up, but it is hard to accept change. However, I know I do want it because I don’t want to keep living my life this way! Thank you for always being so supportive, whether it’s commenting on my blog or through your own blog posts, they are always such an inspiration to me!

  10. sarah says:

    You should be SO proud for opening up and addressing this problem. I think you are strong and courageous and can totally beat this:).
    I think iv made comments before…cos honestly, as someone who has to consume over 3000 cals a day to JUST stay out of inpatient, I worry a lot.
    Please know that a bar and some fruit( which I think is all you have for lunch somdays:/?) barely makes a substantial snack, let alone meal, for a young girl- your body deserves proper nourishment! This is the time when your metabolism is fastest, if you are getting by on so little now, just think about how little you will be able to eat years down the line, when your metabolism slows. There is NO reason to put into starvation mode, none what.so.ever.
    Its awesome that you feel able to consume calorie dense food. But that does mean really very little if you aren’t having full servings of these foods, and aren’t getting enough calories for YOU. And serving/ portion sizes are just a guideline anyway- some people need MUCH different amounts than what is recommended.

    Gosh, sorry, I hope that didn’t come across as a bitchy rant:/. Its just ED’s are a serious thing. its just much better to try and get better yourself, because in some cases it can get taken out of your hands/control, and that’s reeeeally not fun. Trust me , iv been there. And I hate to think that a bright, smart, outgoing girl with SO much potential could go through that. You are worth MUCH more that being dragged down by an eating disorder, you’ll be way happier and healthier without it:).

    • Don’t worry, I really appreciate what you had to say! Your insight means so much to me and I know I really do need to eat more so I don’t have to give up my life and go into treatment. Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. Tt in nyc says:

    As i am sure you realize, eating disorder behaviors dont go away if you ignore them. See a nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders, you really must be held accountable for your eating right now as to not slip further The new dr who doesnt know about ur past sounds like an oblivious person- they really are not trained to deal with nutrition or eating disorders.
    Regardless of if your parents can see how you are struggling you should ask for help, a counselor/ therapist etc to be sure this does not escalate any further while at the same time pushing yourself to consume more calories.

    • Thanks for your concern. I am considering seeing a therapist this summer but most likely not a nutritionist as I know plenty about nutrition and I have had bad experiences with them in the past. I do believe I need support, just not of that kind.

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