ARFID treatment has been helping, and I think there are two main reasons why: I'm setting reasonable goals and being held accountable to someone other than me.
When I’ve tried to change my eating habits in the past, I’d be like, “Okay, I need to eat larger quantities, eat more frequently and eat a healthier variety of foods STARTING TODAY.” And it’s impossible to make that many sustainable lifestyle changes at once
Committing to this treatment program has been about taking small steps and making small adjustments each week by setting a handful of goals. The next week, I brainstorm a few more objectives with my doctor and add them to the list of things I’m working on.
Willpower is not really a strength of mine, so I often talk myself out of doing things I should follow through with...like eating meals. I tend to think, “Why should I have to keep promises to myself?” when I don’t feel like sticking to what I decided I would or wouldn’t do earlier. That’s why accountability is key for me. I’m held accountable by my doctor through Recovery Record, an app specifically designed for eating disorder recovery. We’re “connected” on the app, and I report everything I eat every day. In the beginning of each appointment, she looks through what/when I’ve been eating, and then we discuss.
So here are the goals I’ve set so far.
Week 1: Track everything I eat with Recovery Record
Week 2: Eat within an hour of waking up then every 3-4 hours throughout the rest of the day
Week 3: Incorporate vegetables into my diet two times every day, eat meals in under 30 minutes & snacks in under 15 minutes
Week 4: Eat 1-3 bites after I think I’m full & add tofu, kale and/or almond butter to my diet
Week 5: Eat at exact times every day & add another one of the above foods
Week 7: Make zoodles, salad and/or squash
Week 8: Make stuffed peppers and something with eggplant
Week 9: TBD
Week 10: TBD
There have been a few other action-oriented goals scattered throughout there such as scheduling an appointment with a nutritionist and doing exposure therapy activities during the week.
Because I’m willing to try most foods on their own, my goals have become centered around cooking balanced meals that I’ve never attempted before. Most of the recipes include vegetables, since that's the food group my diet was missing most.
With only two appointments left in the 10-week ARFID treatment program at the MGH Eating Disorder Clinic, I've started meeting with a nutritionist (different from psychologist I see at the clinic) who will help me continue to improve what/how much I'm eating. I'm definitely a little worried about maintaining good eating habits when I don't have doctors keeping tabs on me. But, you know, one step at a time.