On Counting Calories

I am broke. As in, eat-whatever-has-been-ignored-in-my-cabinets, for a whole week, broke. $16.03 in my bank account, and I’ll need gas to get to work tomorrow. I haven’t had a pop in three days now, and I haven’t eaten out in four. Given my recent attempts to break the record for how many times in a day a person can order in the drive-thru, this is a pretty big deal.

Breakfast has been consisting of two pieces of toast, barely buttered because I’m almost out of butter. Lunch, a small microwavable meal that should be considered a snack. Dinner: soup, maybe a can of vegetables too. It doesn’t take many days of this to get bored and irritable. Yesterday, I had my typical breakfast and lunch, and my stomach was eating itself by the time I got home from work. I popped a microwavable ziti in the microwave, hoping I wasn’t screwing my lunch for later in the week. After scarfing it down, I rummaged the cabinets for what to top it off with. I found a box of stuffing. Thank god for stuffing. One box later and I was still hungry, so I made about a third of a bag of ravioli. No sauce, no butter, just pasta packets with some seasoning. It didn’t taste very good, but it was sustenance.

Afterward, I contemplated whether my dinner was exceptionally large or not. After all, it included a whole box of stuffing. No meat, no vegetables, no fruit. All grains – carbs. Since I can’t be trusted to tell if a meal is appropriate or not, I resorted to the only thing I could think of – counting calories. I wrestled with it for several minutes.

My therapists say not to.

But I don’t feel full, so how do I know if that was an appropriate meal size or not?

I don’t feel full because I don’t get full signals until I’m stuffed to the brim.

But still, my therapists tell me not to. It breeds compulsivity and obsession. I’ve been down that road and it wasn’t pretty.

I did it anyhow.

I counted around 1400 calories for dinner. Yikes! My mind started to race. 1400 calories. That’s how many I’d eat in a day, before. Well, before before. When I got skinny. 1400 calories. That’s way too many. I lay in bed last night, mentally flagellating myself for not being at the gym, taking some of those calories off.

But, I told myself, you only ate around 500 calories between breakfast and lunch. So you were just catching up.

Catching up, I argued, leads to binging. There is no such thing as catching up.

I lay awake, my leg shaking with restlessness, as I went round and round with myself. I’m not sure who won. Actually, I feel like I lost, which is sad since I was the only participant in the argument.

You definitely ate way too little, before. 1400 calories is not enough to sustain someone long-term; and with two to three hours of exercise on top of it! You were slowly killing myself, and were proud of it.

You definitely ate way too much tonight. 1400 calories is a ridiculous dinner. You should be ashamed of yourself. You should try to purge, just to see if you can this time. Or at least get your lazy ass out of bed and work some of those calories off.

You should definitely not eat anything tomorrow. Counter-act that huge meal. Yeah, it’ll work out anyhow since you’re tired of your broke-meals.

Ya know, I wonder what I’ve been eating other than today, calorie-wise? Maybe I should start counting and see what I’m up to these days. It’ll help me lose some of this stubborn weight, anyhow.

Speaking of weight…

Don’t do it, Debbie. Don’t step on that scale. You know what it does to you.

But I bet I’ll lose a couple pounds by the end of the week, if I haven’t already.

Your therapists tell you not to. It breeds compulsion and obsession. It’s not a pretty road, you know this.

I did it anyhow.

I had lost one pound since last week, when I had stepped on the scale for the first time in a month. I smiled. See, I told myself, being broke isn’t all bad.

Now it’s today. I just ate lunch and I’m still hungry. Well of course I am, as lunch was only 170 measly calories. I am very well aware that I’ve had less than 300 calories so far today and I’m two meals in. My mind is dancing with images of what I can’t have today. Bagels and breadsticks and Lucky Charms and cheeseburgers. For Christ’s sake, Diet Coke. A client walked in earlier when a McDonald’s cup and I may have drooled a little.

Now I’m concerned. My paycheck on Friday will be very small. I shouldn’t eat out all week again, but I want Everything. There is nothing that doesn’t sound good right now, practically. Not binging will be more difficult on Friday than it has been in weeks.

300 calories. That’s not very much. I won’t be home for dinner until very late and I don’t have the option of eating in the car. So, I will sustain on 170 calories for most of the day and then have soup and green peas for dinner – another 700 calories at best. 1000 calories for today. My mind reels.

That’s not enough.

Yippee, I’ll lose some weight! The first few days are always the hardest, and I can get used to 1000 calories a day. I just need a few more days and the hunger pangs will stop. Yeah, I can do this.

Don’t be stupid, Debbie. You’re in treatment to get better, not return to restricting just because you have a weird week.

But it’s so easy. It’s so tempting. It’s so…

Compulsive and obsessive. Not pretty. I should know.

I might do it anyhow.

Debbie 2Debbie is an addiction counselor and yoga teacher in Indiana.  She is an avid reader of any genre, and has published fantasy short stories; she is still working on the elusive novel.  Recently, Debbie has ventured into non-fiction writing, in hopes that discussing her life with an eating disorder will help someone in need.  Debbie’s loves include her niece Lillie and her girl-cat, Emilio Estevez.  She is passionate about mental health awareness, especially related to addiction and eating disorders.

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