At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Then and now…my meal plan and learning to enjoy food again.

So now you know what I used to be like. I’m going to tell you a bit more now about where I am now; what stage I am at, and a little about what I eat now in comparism to then.
I know I am going to probably open myself up to criticism by what I am going to say next…I haven’t actually ever been to a doctor or a counsellor about my problem. So far, no other outside party has been involved. So many might say that my meal plan an’t really be called a meal plan at all, as it was not drawn up by an professional… and I can’t argue with that. I suppose I am experimenting a bit here and seeing whether I can gain weight by doing it in this way…my way, I suppose. It might not be the healthiest or the best way to gain weight, I am sure. But these are the foods that I love and that I want to eat. I know al too well if I went to the doctor snd was told I was going to have to eat a load of red meat and fish and such like, I just wouldn’t. I want to beome a vegetarian when I have reached my target weight and I am not really a big fan of these foods anyway…
As I’ve already said, those who think gaining weight is easy are so very, very wrong. But there are, thankfully, a few ways in which the process can be made just a little bit easier. And here is my favourite one of these methods. Eat the foods you love. Of course, if you love chocolate as I do, or if you are a diehard cheese fanatic, for example – I’m not insinuating that you should eat loads and loads of these type of foods. But definitely, incorporate them into your diet without guilt.
Because think about it realistically…the more you like it, the more willing you will be to eat it. And, with putting on weight being hard enough as it already is, then trying to force something you really dislike down your throat, just for the sake of it being one of those foods recommended by athletes or nutritionists or whoever...isn’t really the right way to go. In my opinion, anyway.
And so, what does this curtail for me, in particular?
Well. As you know, there is nothing that makes Ganache-Elf happier than that wonderful, delightful, heavenly concoction known as drinking chocolate…
AND yes, I know it’s high in sugar, and would probably be slammed for that by dieticians. But well…it’s not all bad and I am standing by that. The fact that my hot chocolate is made with full fat milk has to count towards something. All that calcium and protein. And I love it, I love it so much. You can keep your steaks and fancy meats and all that stuff – but give me a cup of hot chocolate and I’m perfectly happy.
Anyway, alongside hot chocolate, there’s a lot more to my meal plan of course. The key is variety. I can’t stress the importance of this. 
Of course it's important to vary your diet so you get a good bit of everything...all five of the food groups, all of the different nutrients. And when you are putting on weight, it's a very good idea to make eating fun and interesting by varying what you eat all the time. Of course there will always be some things which you will happily eat every day. But a bit of variety really spices things up nicely for meals, and makes you much more willing to eat more, in my opinion.
So onto what I eat, generally speaking, each day now...
Well, I established some golden rules at the beginning which, every day, I wanted to observe at all costs...
  • Never skip meals...
  • Snack regularly. Aim to eat every 2-3 hours.
  • Focus on foods liked best...that way it is easier to eat more.
  • Drink lots of hot choc with full fat milk:)
  • Don't ever be hungry...learn to listen to your body.
  • Enjoy food...and the company of others while eating. It's one of life's simple pleasures, to be able to sit down and enjoy a meal with someone.
  • Lots of variety...
  • Pudding every day, and lots of fruit and veg too.
  • Drink plenty.
  • Try new things. be adventurous.
  • Don't think.... "I shouldn't eat that. It's not good for me." Think... "why not...I deserve it"
  • always have full-fat products.
  • Live for food...tomorrow might never come.
And here is a rough idea of what I now eat, on different days...
1.)    Mondays at home.
  • 8.45 am. Breakfast: Toast and peanut butter/jam/honey + bowl of cereal.
  • 11.15 am. Protein type snack (see list.)
  • 1.30 pm. Lunch: One of bread types + protein filling + bit of salady stuff. (See list.)
  • 3.30 pm. Yoghurt/biscuit.
  • 5.00 pm. Fruit portion.
  • 6.00 pm. Hot chocolate/milky coffee/chocolate milkshake.
  • 7.45 pm. Dinner.
  • 9.00 pm. Pudding: Fruit (banana usually ;) ) + ice-cream/custard + chocolate.
  • 10.00 pm. Hot choc / Ovaltine / Horlicks.
2.) Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • 8.00 am. Fruit portion.
  • 9.45 am. Breakfast (as above.)
  • 12.00 am. Protein-type snack.
  • 2.00 pm. Lunch: As above.
  • 4.00 pm. Yoghurt / biscuit.
  • 6.00 pm. Hot choc / choc milkshake / milky coffee.
  • 7. 45 + : all same as above really.

3.) Wednesday, Friday, Saturday.
  • 8.00 am. Fruit portion.
  • 9.45 am. Breakfast (as above).
  • 11.30 am. Hot choc.
  • 2.00 pm. Lunch (as above ) 
  • 4.00 pm. Yoghurt/biscuit.
  • 5.30 pm. Hot choc.
  • 7.45 + : as above.
4.) Sunday.
  • 8.30 am. Breakfast (as above)
  • 11.30 hot choc.
  • 2.30 Lunch (as above) + fruit portion.
  • 5.00 Hot choc + biscuit.
  • 7.40 + same as above.
This is only a rough idea, but as a rule I do normally try to stick to it. It works for me, anyway. Well, not at first. I remember the first few days of this, when I actually started eating again, like a normal person. It was so hard...I was so bloated and felt, well pretty shit really. but I'm over those feelings now as I know my body is adapting.
Now I just wanted to talk to you a bit about what I've termed as protein type snacks. Now for me, the word snack normally connotes something...sugary or sweet. I suppose it does for alot of people. But in the past - before when I became sick and didn't allow myself to eat whenever I felt peckish between meals - a snack would usually be the inevitable bar of chocolate, or a biscuit or a bar or something similar.
But in putting on weight I'm trying to incorporate more substantial snacks into my diet, too, some of which are higher in protein than my beloved sweet treats. I'm eating the latter, too, of course, but I know that the protein-type snacks such as those in the list below are just as important.
  • Bowl of cereal
  • Bowl of ready-brek/porridge
  • Toast + peanut butter/jam/honey
  • Goat’s cheese bun
  • Wholemeal scone + jam
  • Homemade brown bread + jam/honey/peanut butter
  • Fruit scone + jam
  • Teacake + jam/honey
  • Piece of soda bread + jam/honey/peanut butter
  • Cereal bars and granola bars.
  • Hot cross bun + jam
  • Protein bar.
  • Blueberry muffin.
  • Peanut butter cupcake.
I know alot of these aren't quite as high in protein as some others. Usually I try to go for the cereal, the porridge/ready-brek, the toast or the soda/brownbread, on the basis that these are the ones that are lowest in sugar and highest in protein. But it all depends on what I fancy really.
Now I was going to tell you next about my lunchtime and dinner ideas. But I think I might leave that for one of my next posts as this one is looking suspiciously long again.
Believe me, at first I thought that I was never, ever going to stick with this meal plan. When me and Mam wrote it down, I remember regarding it with doubt and a sort of sickening anxiety. Such alot...suh alot of food...I will never, ever get used to eating that much...
But...I overcame that hurdle, didn't I? And if I can, there's no reason that you can't, too. You just need to have a bit of faith in yourself and learn to let know that you are helping and rescuing your body by eating. To put aside your fear of being full and replacing that security you used to derive from not having eaten - a sentiment that I always used to have, all the time - with the healthier and so much better alternative...I have eaten. I am full. I'm not hungry. And my body is going to thank me for that.
And don't feel you have to stick precisely to your meal plan...I mean, don't beat yourself up if you slip up on just one day and miss out on one little long as that doesn't develop into a regular occurrence, it's ok. And if you eat more than what you've planned...well done you. There's nothing wrong with that, either.
For me the best thing about my meal plan allowed me to start eating normally and regularly again, by guiding me gently into doing just that. And while there is guidance and direction, there is still room for me to be able to have what I feel like, too. There might be a day when I just have to have a double stuff oreo with my hot chocolate. (Oreos...ahh. I must dedicate one post to those awesome, awesome things.) And that's  perfectly ok. Another day, I might be longing for boiled egg and soldiers; something I would always have been given for lunch if I got a temperature when I was small. And that's perfectly acceptable too. When I was sick...having either of these things was a distant impossibility. I would simply deny myself the pleasure of having what I wanted, when I wanted. But that's all changed now, for the better.
Today...well, I feel like a few things. I've made chicken and ham lasagne for tea...which is lovely in itself. But it will be made even lovelier with a nice hunk of warm, gorgeous smelling fresh bread, still hot from the oven, alongside it. And a bit of homegrown lettuce and a few cherry tomatoes from the garden. Yep, that's what I fancy today. And that's exactly what I'm going to have.
It's just gone 12.15 now and I've just had my mid-morning snackrel. Which consisted of a good bowl of Tesco Hot Oat Cereal (their cheaper,, but just as yummy, version of ReadyBrek.) with just a SMALL teaspoon of sugar sprinkled on top. Success! I managed to control my sweet cravings, sort of. Though don't get me wrong, I love readybrek - (though it has to be made in a certain way, with lumps. Can't stand runny readybrek.) and of course, in the knowledge that this is a snack that is high in calcium, protein, and vitamins...I feel perfectly contented. But don't worry, I will be having something sweet later on, of course. That unopened packet of Double Stuff Oreos sitting innocently in the kitchen cupboard may have to come out at hot chocolate time. Yeah, I only bought them the other week, but leaving them, untouched, in the cupboard for that length of time is just wayyyy too long, isn't it...

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