One of the ‘big’ things I’ve been working on since my last appointment a week ago is breakfasts. I mean, I always have breakfast, it’s just that sometimes “breakfast” is at 2 in the afternoon. Apparently that doesn’t count (these ED doctors can be so picky)!
So for the purpose of this ‘action point’, I (reluctantly) agreed with my doctor that breakfast needs to be:
- Something more than just fruit – coffee alone doesn’t count either unfortunately. I did try and justify a coffee with my fruit but no!
- Eaten in the morning at “breakfast time” ie. before the school run (morning not afternoon) or just after getting back
- Made (and ideally eaten) when Harvey aka the breakfast monster has his morning fill
The biggest challenge of the above has been making and having breakfast when Harvey has his. As you can imagine as a (very groggy, often sleep deprived, running-on-empty) single parent, our mornings are very rarely plain sailing. Thanks to a woman called Jordan Page (she’s absolutely amazing and the queen of efficiency and productivity) our morning routine had become much more efficient and structured – he’s up, dressed, teeth brushed and bed made before my eyes even open! However, having said this, I always over estimate the amount of time I have in the morning – I’m still asking myself at what point will I actually learn?! I’m going with probably never! Anyway the point I’m trying to get at is mornings are rushed. I often (grumpily) roll out of my pit, quickly fling something together for Harvey (if I’m really on form I’ll have put everything out ready the night before – it helps loads, you know, minimal effort at the time of day milk is likely to end up in the microwave rather than fridge). While he’s stuffing his chops with a toastie, pb toast or some huge bowl of cereal and fruit, I use the opportunity to go get myself washed, dressed, get some cleaning done or just sit and down a bit of liquid energy (coffee), so there hasn’t previously been scope to leisurely have breakfast together (I’m also really good at finding reasons to not, in case you hadn’t already gathered). So this was challenge #1 – factor breakfast into the morning routine (#2 – realise that procrastination should be solely reserved for exam times and not breakfast time).
The next biggest challenge has been actually bringing myself to eat. I’ve got so used to not having breakfast, dare I say, I think some of the breakfast skipping has become a habit. Majority of the time I wake up and feel like I have a million and one things to get done (in reality I don’t but we can thank anxiety and over thinking for that stance), eating, although it should be, isn’t featured in my ‘top 5 priorities for the morning’, isn’t. As a Dietitian, I’m well aware of the need for breakfast and ‘good’ nutrition and that really this should be at least in my top 3 things to do in the morning. Rationalising this with the ED irrationality has been easier said than done. Bear with me though, I’m working on it. When I wake up I struggle to find my hunger. Physically I know my body is, more than likely, over hungry but after so much restriction and disordered eating, I find it really tough to actually distinguish and identify the feelings of hunger and satiety and therefore justify putting anything together to eat.
Deciding what to have and over coming the anxiety around actually preparing the food and then eating, have caused me an unbelievable amount of unnecessary grief over the past few months. Have you ever really panicked and worked yourself into a tizz about something, then when it’s come to it, it’s really not been as traumatic as you anticipated? That’s how I feel about this brekkie business. Step one in this crazy, ridiculous, little frenzy is choosing what to eat. I’ll think about balance (carbs, proteins, fats, fruit, dairy, micronutrients etc.), what, if anything, I fancy or could consider stomaching, then I’ll calculate, rejig, obsess and stress over the calories it contains and how this will impact what I can and can’t eat for the rest of the day. Only then can phase 2 commence (sounds like a military operation doesn’t it?! It feels like it sometimes), preparation. I have to plan what to have the night before otherwise by the time I’ve faffed about and changed my mind 628826 times in the morning, there’s no time to actually make/eat anything (hence why I lift everything out the night before – so I’m less likely to be as indecisive)!! Anyhow the next task is make and eat. You may think ‘well you’re making Harvey’s brekkie anyway, so what’s the big deal?’ Well, the ‘big deal’ is needing the time to mentally clear my head and prepare myself for the meal. For Harvey, I can mindlessly throw him a toastie and some fruit up without a second thought, he eats it, and job done. When it comes to myself though I need to sit and take a breath and give myself a little pep talk before hand which is why breakfast before the school run is practically impossible, most of the time.
Last week though, I bit the bullet and went for it. No gold standard, fit for a king breakfasts but something more than fruit and… in the morning. 3 in a row, and 1 of the 3 before the school run, sat with the little guy. Honestly… it wasn’t as bad as I had prepared myself for. I’ve struggled to keep it up these past couple days and it wasn’t without emotional challenges, but still, a step in the right direction and I do thrive on a challenge!
Day 1 was yogurt, nuts and berries – I had this with Harvey and it felt so good being able to socialise with him over brekkie, it’s been a long time since we did! I managed to not over think things and kinda just cracked on with it. Success. Day 2 was a toughie. I didn’t feel hungry, I felt really down and tired but I tried to push on through. Whilst I didn’t manage to endure the breakfast battle before school run, I did manage a peanut butter rice cake and satsuma (not the best – I know, but it ticks all the boxes) when I got back, after rationalising my panic, there really shouldn’t be anything scary about breakfasts. It’s almost laughable writing it down at how ridiculous it sounds. Day 3, anxiety was running high, I couldn’t think straight or face anything more than a coffee first thing but after giving myself a good talking to on the stroll back from school I managed it. Before doing anything else or thinking about anything else, I boiled the kettle and sat down with a porridge pot and that was that. I felt horrible, full, bloated and guilty afterwards but I managed to ride it out. So there we have it, 3 days of breakfasts on the trot.
Going forward, I have been more ‘open’ to breakfast and having something in the morning. I haven’t been successful every day but 3 in a row was a first for a very long time and it’s still a massive working progress.