From a post a while ago, I went to Vinh Loi and had fried rice for dinner and breakfast the next morning. Turns out the rice I thought was pure whole grain brown rice was white rice smothered in seasoning. Oooooooooooooooops. I didn’t find out just by looking at some strangely pale and thin grains, but also how I felt afterwards. Obviously around Jess I had to act like it was NBD, but in my head it was actually a RBD. The next morning I felt groggy, bloated, lethargic, and most evidently, ashamed.
My “clean eating” stage was broken once again after more than a year. I tried so hard to talk myself out of the guilt, from repeatedly reminding myself about the Chinese and Japanese populaces who survived on white rice in excellent health to the Raw Till 4 fruit bats that eat tons of rice and potatoes every night and manage to look lean. I promised myself I’d burn all the junk off with Blogilates’ 100 Burpee Burnout, a trip to the gym and 30-minute run all in one day, and replenish with chicken and steamed vegetables for dinner. Wanna know how much that helped me? ZERO.
It’s a very complicated state of mind when you suddenly break an abstinence. At the moment, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I felt as if the guilt came like expiration on a fruit. It starts off as an insignificant bruise, but after a prolonged amount of time when you play around with it, it grows and manifests inside like a virus infecting cells that proliferate. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I believed I let so much go to waste. People are wrong when they say no one’s going to admonish you for eating one-fourth of a cup of rice. You admonish you. I admonished myself, and dealing with the responsibility that I ate the rice two times was probably the biggest burden I carried at the moment.
The brain is like the nucleus of the body. It’s so powerful that one’s thoughts can distort his or her vision and process of logic. I thought so strongly that I would bloat and look fat after the meal the next day. Throughout the day I felt nearly as lethargic and chubby I imagined I’d be when drowning in my guilt. But it wasn’t just the thought of gaining weight that haunted me. It was also the fear that I wasn’t as healthy as I made myself out to be and that I betrayed everyone who looked up to me for slipping.
Am I orthorexic for feeling this way? No, shame after one slip is completely normal, and it’s worse after a long period of time eating clean. Categorizing foods as “bad” and avoiding them isn’t orthorexic either–it just means I don’t want to ingest stuff I know won’t give me the nutrients and energy I need. I choose not to eat that because it disagrees with my body. I break out, retain water and am not a happy girl. However, overriding myself when I do eat those foods is something I shouldn’t do, because it’s a sign that I let what I eat control my worth, and the least expensive the meal, the lesser I feel. This goes beyond junk food, of course; vegans and paleo people are pretty condescending towards themselves when they slip too, for instance, accidentally eating a spoonful of honey or a bite of lentils–and that’s healthy food!
It wasn’t until I looked into intuitive eating when my opinions started to change. I read stories of these people who boasted toned, muscular, beautiful bodies and I initially thought they owned nothing but superfoods and Quest bars. Boy was I wrong! They have Oreos, froyo and Chipotle burritos every week, sometimes even every day! Yes, they’d spend a good chunk of time weight-training at the gym, but they need that fuel in order to kill their workouts. I, on the other hand, whose exercise routines consist of calisthenics and Pilates, would be better off eating a banana with peanut butter or a KIND bar.
I’m going to challenge myself: I want to see the good in the bad, the light in the darkness, the silver lining on the cloud. There is goodness hiding in everything. For instance, maybe butter isn’t so bad for us after all. Maybe white potatoes are okay to eat as long as they’re not deep fried. For all I know, it won’t be easy. In my future blog posts I’ll still stress that processed bacon, white bread and packaged chips are no bueno for the body, but with the understanding that people NEED these foods to live life to the fullest. Categorizing certain foods on a “no” list causes restriction, which is an orthorexic trigger factor for many. I don’t plan on ingesting junk food daily because I think the chemicals can add up too easily and micronutrients are too essential to give up, but if I do, I won’t freak. It’s just one snack, one meal. No biggie.
In the end, it really is only a limited amount of time. Whether you ate horribly for a day, two days, a week, a month, whatever, you have more than plenty of time to reverse it. All you have to do is take charge. Once I sneaked in a 20-minute HIIT session and ended the day with whole foods, I felt so much better as if the cheat meal happened long, long ago. All sans detox.
I hope this post helped you guys to not worry about breaking abstinence, because you are not entirely what you eat. You are greater than that. I believe that the act of getting back on track and showing determination and discipline during the process is much more important. And if you realize that these food barriers constituting certain foods in a “no zone” is detrimental towards your well-being and liberate yourself from them, that is wonderful too!