A Sneaky Little Breakfast Trick…

26 Jan

For me, breakfast has always been the easiest meal of the day for a few reasons:

1. It’s a new day… fresh start. Nothing (hopefully!) has gone wrong that day yet, so my ED has no excuse; it can’t blame anything on my weight or food intake yet. Later in the day it is easier to believe the “monkey mind” that says, “You can’t have lunch because you failed at ______ task.” Or, “Your brother is already in a bad mood… You can’t make dinner in the kitchen or he’ll get even more angry and riled up.” What could my eating disorder possibly blame my weight on at breakfast? All I’ve done by then is wake up, take a shower, pop in my multivitamin, and drop my mom off at the bus stop. See? Everything by that time in the morning has usually gone smoothly, so breakfast is peaceful and relaxed.

2. There is so much research and hype surrounding a healthy, solid breakfast. You hear it all over the news: “A new study indicates better brain performance for those who eat breakfast,” “those who eat breakfast have an easier time maintaining their weight,” “research shows that children’s performance in school is better when they consume breakfast.” If the eating disorder voice starts creeping in, I often can quiet it by justifying, using the scientifically based research I’ve heard recently, that my body, especially my brain, NEEDS to eat breakfast to perform right. And the last thing anyone wants to lose is brainpower…

3. Finally, I’m simply hungrier at breakfast. Usually, by the time I’m finished with my shower, my stomach is grumbling. It hasn’t eaten in 8 or 9 hours and it’s easy to tell that my body is running on empty. With an ED, it is hard to begin to recognize the hunger cues you have tuned out for so long. Later in the day, things like emotions, anxiety over how much food I have already eaten, and worries about future meals get in the way of recognizing when my body is hungry and satisfying it with more nutrition. However, when I BREAK[the overnight]FAST, my body is loud and clear… “FEEEED MEEE!!!”

In the past, my ED often used the last reason against me.  Most of the time, I was consumed with craving the feeling of hunger and restricting, so I would see how long I could go that day without indulging in forbidden food. On other occasions, I would be so hungry when I woke up in the mornings from lack of nutrition in previous days, my body would rebel and binge, followed by my ED mind regaining control and making me rid myself of the food. Ridden by guilt over this process, I would then restrict the rest of the day and the endless, mindless cycle would continue.

Here is a big secret I’ve learned about recovery… You can “treat” yourself to breakfast out, without breaking the bank! For me, it is a necessity to get out of our apartment in the mornings for breakfast, but it’s too cold to pack my breakfast and eat at a park or outside somwhere. Sitting at a cafe or coffee shop, I am surrounded by other people, the atmosphere is relaxing, and there is no temptation to purge. Plus, everyone else is eating breakfast… it feels normal to be doing the same thing. When I first found that I was more successful going somewhere for breakfast, I would go somewhere everyday and buy the entire meal. But I quickly tired of the selection and spending 7-10 dollars a day.

So here’s the trick:

Pack whatever economical, healthy breakfast you want at home and buy a coffee or hot tea to go along with it. Since it’s so cold out, I’ve been making overnight steel cut oats or rice porridge, packed with all sorts of toppings and fruit. Here in Austin, all the Panera Bread Cafes have microwaves to heat things up in underneath the coffee bar, or I’ll quickly heat up my breakfast on the stove and plop it into a thermos before my mom and I dash out the door.

As long as you buy something, the workers at the coffee shops have always allowed me to sit for hours, using the free wifi or reading after breakfast. Whenever someone asks, I just tell them, “Oh, I’ve always loved your cafe and the environment, but I’m on a special diet, so I have to bring food from home.” I’ve been doing this every day for weeks and no one has ever complained or told me no. Sneaky? Perhaps. Tricky? Maybe. But it is something that keeps me in recovery, and I don’t find it terribly wrong- I mean I am purchasing something and it’s never so busy that I’m taking up a table that would otherwise go to someone buying more than me.

Yes, it is cheaper to make coffee or hot tea at home. But, at least here in Austin, a hot beverage runs less than $2 per morning. If that is the price of staying in recovery for me… I’ll buy it!

If you are in recovery, try it… Treat yourself to healthy, nourishing breakfast in a calm, relaxing environment. Even if you don’t have the time to sit at a cafe, try packing the first meal of the day and getting out into the world, away from the space where your ED keeps you trapped. Feed your brain and wrap your day in the peace of a warm, filling breakfast.

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