Sleeping through my dreams

Hi all,

For years now, I have been open and honest about my ongoing struggles with mental health and recovery from an eating disorder. I continue to visit a therapist multiple times each month. I’m familiar with the process of sharing my inner thoughts and tendencies, even with the public. It’s relatively easy to be vocal about a misunderstood disorder when you are actively recovering from it. Less simple, however, is the process of sharing the intricacies of a disorder that leaves one entirely powerless.

I am 25 years old and I suffer from a rare condition called Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH, for short). When I first went to my physician about my excessive daytime sleepiness, she told me I was overweight and that I should try to get a full 8 hours of sleep each night. As it turns out, my tiredness had nothing to do with second servings of pasta or late nights at the bars. It was, however, a slowly developing neurological sleep disorder.

I’ve never been a morning person. Two cups of coffee is my minimum prior to productivity. But somewhere along the road, things shifted. Grogginess became overwhelming and persistent sleepiness. I began to struggle to stay awake doing even the most simple of tasks. My “sleep attacks” would hit at dangerous times, like when I was driving to work or standing in the shower. It was embarrassing and didn’t make sense to me. After years of abusing my body with symptoms of anorexia and bulimia, I was finally stable in recovery– This was truly the healthiest that my body had EVER been in my adult life. So why was daily life STILL such a struggle? I never imagined that one day I’d wake up with a medical condition that was incurable.  It took a few years and half a dozen different doctors, but I finally got my concrete answer: Idiopathic Hypersomnia.

I want you to think back to the last time you were sleep-deprived. Whether it was due to a late-night concert or an all-nighter studying for exams, I bet you’ll remember that distinct zombie-like feeling that ensued. Now I want you to imagine feeling like that ALL day, every day. As someone who suffers from IH, it does not matter how many hours of uninterrupted sleep I get each night…I will never wake up feeling refreshed or well-rested. The average person, in fact, would have to stay awake for 48 full hours in order to feel the level of exhaustion that plagues my day-to-day life.

I have a wonderfully knowledgeable doctor now, but even the heavy stimulants she prescribes leave me living in a fog (and as simply a band-aid, they truly don’t address the root cause of the condition). Every day with IH drags on for centuries, yet I look back and can’t quite recall what I’ve spent all of my time doing. The hardest parts of the day are mornings, when I suffer from what is commonly known as “sleep drunkenness”. I am known to sleep through more than six different alarms before coming to the groggy realization that it’s time to get up. I can sleep surrounded by sunlight or artificial light without any problem. Awakening is not any easier if I go to bed earlier, nor can I function better if I sleep in a cool room with the windows open. As you might imagine, many people with Idiopathic Hypersomnia have trouble holding down jobs.

To make the excessive sleepiness even more difficult to deal with, there is rarely a coherent pattern in which it occurs. Some days, the sleepiness hits midday at work. Other times, I power through the workday only to crash immediately at 5pm upon hitting the plush cushions of my couch. It may sound luxurious — all those extra naps and no trouble falling asleep at night — but let me promise you, it leaves much to be desired. It’s debilitating. I’ve overslept through important workshops, family dinners, and morning workouts. I’ve missed plans with friends and have had days where I simply don’t have enough energy to empty the dishwasher, let alone socialize or put on “real” clothes. As a high-functioning individual who also suffers from anxiety, this is truly a nightmare for me. My Idiopathic Hypersomnia leaves me unproductive and stripped of momentum, while my anxiety constantly fuels my brain with whispers of “do more” and “do better”.

I’ve spent night after night crying because of this disorder. It truly leaves me without hope some days, especially knowing that there is no cure. I am fully aware of the fact that my IH symptoms come across as laziness to many people. The only thing I can do, at this point, is attempt to educate people so that this condition is better understood within society.

I don’t share this information to seek pity, nor do I need you to “solve” my puzzle of a condition. While, I have your attention, though, I do have a few simple requests to make of you:

  • Don’t complain about how tired you are. Chances are, you don’t even understand what it feels like to truly be sleep deprived and barely functioning.
  • Don’t give me suggestions. My chronic illness cannot be solved with your herbal supplement, workout advice, or nutritional feedback.
  • Don’t stop inviting me to things. I know it may seem like I don’t care enough to show up, but please understand that there is so much more to the story than you’ve seen.
  • Educate yourself on spoon theory. Chronic illness is real and is more common than you may realize.
  • Resist the simplicity of labeling me as “lazy” or “always tired” or “unmotivated”.

It’s disheartening to know that I’m in my mid-twenties…supposedly the prime of my life…yet, I somehow don’t have the desire to do anything but sleep. My mind is motivated, but my body is incapable of following through. I’m still slowly working through the intricacies of this diagnosis and what it means for my future. But in the effort of full transparency and therapeutic writing, I wanted to share this journey with you all.

xoxo, Haley

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The sun is shining; why am I unhappy?

I’ve been inactive as a writer for far too long, and today I’ve decided to make my return to the world of blogging. Not because I have “followers” asking where I’ve been, but because writing has always served some sort of therapeutic function for me. It seems that for a little while, I didn’t know what to say, even to myself. I couldn’t make sense of my thoughts so I abstained from writing them down. After so much time has lapsed since my last post, I want to emphasize (even if only to myself) the importance of continuing forward with your passions, no matter what they are. Writing, for me, is a passion that simultaneously brings a sense of equilibrium to my mind. A quote comes to mind- one that was very prevalent in my life during the years of eating disorder treatment: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” One should not stop in his or her tracks simply because the unknown or unfamiliar lies ahead. That pattern of thinking (and thereby acting) leads absolutely nowhere. So with all that said, I’m going to push forward. I’m going to revitalize my habit of writing because I truly believe that it was (and could still be) beneficial to my general well-being. And in bringing back my joy of writing, I am going to embrace that sense of uncertainty. I’m going to write down the things that DON’T make sense, rather than waiting for clarity before divulging.

So here we go…

The sun is shining; why am I unhappy? I don’t know if those two phrases are inherently linked together, or if it’s just my innate desire to have a reason behind the fluctuations of my mood. It’s a statement I make and a question I ask myself all too often, as though my mood stability is somehow linked with the movement of the clouds above. Regardless, I feel as though these two phrases, when placed alongside each other, are the perfect encapsulation of what it is like to live with severe depression as well as crippling anxiety.

As I write this, I can feel a deep pressure on my chest. I can’t tell if it’s a force being pushed upon me from the outside, or whether it stems from the inside out. I feel alarmed, as though I should be jumping to action, but I don’t have the motivation to do so. I don’t care what happens, but I’m obsessively invested in choosing the right path. Or in making sure everyone else is happy. It feels like each day drains me of my energy, but at the same time a nagging voice is drumming between my ears, telling me to do more, make more, say more, try more, be more. I know that there is a pool of tears tucked back somewhere behind my eyes–I can feel it. Anxiety, however, has built an indestructible dam, keeping those tears floating behind closed doors. The tears are antsy for their chance to escape, but anxiety knows better: there’s no time for crying. I don’t have time to cry because there’s so much to do. But I can’t seem to extract myself from the folds of this couch to take one step, let alone conquer a to-do list the length of a spider’s home-spun silk supply. There is no food in my refrigerator…for once, not an eating disordered choice, but rather a lack of time to grocery shop — or a void of willpower to do the mundane — and I can’t tell which is truly the reason.

It’s a forever-revolving sand-filled timer, leaving no space between beginning and end, no gap in which to pause and figure out which end is up. THAT is what depression layered with anxiety looks like. It’s wanting to achieve at a high level, but not having enough momentum to walk the aisles of a supermarket, let alone having the strength the surge through a ceiling of tempered glass. And when I’m sick, forget it.

I’m a paradox of a human being: I want to be loved, but I want to be alone. I’m lonely, but I don’t care enough to make new friends — or is it anxiety telling me I’m unable to do so? My insides feel jumbled and stretched taut at the same time. Like someone with no direction and too much ambition at the same time. It’s confusing to make sense of, and it creates for some very mixed emotions. But I didn’t write this post to confuse you. I didn’t write it so that you’d pity my mentally ill mind trapped inside a high-functioning body. I wrote this down as though to say “be patient with us”. While I can’t speak for everyone that struggles with comorbid mood disorders, I know that for me, it’s a downright cluster of misunderstanding at times. I have to be patient with myself from day-to-day while I figure out the ups and the downs, the patterns and the outliers. If you can be patient with me, too, that’s all I could ever ask for.

If you’ve made it this far into my rambling, I want to thank you. It is people like yourself who have the desire to understand my own unique experience– and that is so important (and rare) to find in a friend. This is a messy and unedited first delve back into the world of writing, and I’m trying to sit with that discomfort. Because at the end of the day, it’s OKAY to not have life all figured out and structured perfectly into the lines of a planner. The sun is shining, and today I’m unhappy…and that’s OKAY.

Why I’m (finally) letting go.

As I sink back into the crease of the couch, I wonder what I’m really doing here. The red cushions are worn, faded in color yet saturated with memories. I scrape off a layer of my Chapstick with my front tooth, realizing that I’m not as happy as I thought I would be.

I drove 4 hours for the damn simple realization that perhaps what was once good for me is no longer filling my needs. You see, navigating the world of romance and friendship is particularly difficult in your twenties. Multiply that times a few hundred if you’re like me, plagued with the persistence of mental illness.

It seems that each individual I’ve encountered the past four years has not merely been a person to walk in or out of my life, but rather a fiber in the Velcro that fastens my life in a fierce security. I remember the girl from the diner last weekend, because she laughed at my stupid joke. I remember your best friend from home. Her indirect compliments were the fuel I needed to push through the evening. A random smile from across a public space. An extended hand. A door held, with a stranger telling me not to rush. Together, these actions form a bond that keep my spirits up and my confidence alive. He, however, he was not a simple plastic thread like the others. He was (and will continue to be) a steel lock whose combination I have yet to decipher.

In books and movies, it’s always a steep plummet into love. With him, though, it was a gradual descent. It was a friendship and a shared sweatshirt. Not date nights and red roses, but carwash escapades and my first hot pocket. It was not an obvious love, but a subtle ombré of sun-kissed color added to my days.

He wasn’t a passing glance or a brush of the fingertips. He was a tight grip while I stomached my third Ensure supplement of the day. A direct stare as he told me “No, you have to eat.” I learned quickly in my years of treatment that such friends are rare to find, and near impossible to hold onto. My diagnoses follow me around, and word spreads quickly. Perhaps it’s my fault for being so open with my struggles in the attempt to help others. Regardless, the DSM is a ball and chain that I would not wish upon anyone. The complexities of my brain and fickleness of my mood drove plenty of friends miles into the distance. Few and far between, though, were the ones who wanted to see me come out at the other end of the tunnel.

For several years, he was my security blanket laced with tears. It becomes awfully easy to cling to a friend who helps you see your own beauty. And it’s frightening how addicting that person’s embrace can be. Not just a “hello, I’ve missed you” hug, but a sobbing into his shoulder hug while I convulse at the thought of finishing my green beans. Sure, it was a romance peppered with duplicity and lacking in commitment. I grew up always eating what I’ve been served, though, so who was I to complain? He has been the hinge on my carousel horse. Yes, it’s a constant rhythm of rises and falls, but I’ve learned to love the strength that pulls me back up after pushing me down.

As I stood there wiping off the condensation rings on his counter, though, I came to an important realization. Perhaps I need to look at this friendship differently. When I was in kindergarten, my grandparents gifted me a beautiful winter coat. I dubbed it my “Eskimo jacket” and wore it with pride. With a fur-lined hood and close to a dozen pockets hidden throughout the fabric, I was in pure bliss every time I wore it. As you may imagine, I soon grew out of that jacket. I can remember wistfully watching my mother put it in a bag of clothing to be donated to our church. It didn’t seem fair, really, that something I loved so much and took such good care of would just be taken away from me. I couldn’t help but wish to be smaller. To not have grown, so that I could still squeeze my lanky arms into those puffy coat sleeves.

I guess it’s kind of the same with this relationship– I can’t help but wish for its return…for the good old days, so to speak. It doesn’t seem fair. To invest one’s heart and trust in something knowingly unstable is a dangerous game, but I don’t necessarily blame myself. It’s hard to see the stoplight turning yellow when the sun is glittering behind it. But to return to such a situation is to jam my arms back into that Eskimo jacket. No matter how much I scrunch up my shoulders or pull down on the sleeves, it won’t work for me anymore. For the singular simple fact that I have grown.

I never imagined that my saving grace would someday morph into an addictive cycle — an unhealthy pill that would take me years to metabolize. But that’s what happens with toxic relationships, they say. It’s exponentially easier to rationalize a stranger’s lace panties on his bedroom floor than it is to convince myself that I’m worth more. An endless cycle of treachery and forgiveness begins to feel like a calming wave.  In reality, though, it is an indirect means of self-destruction. It’s tearing down the murals of recovery that I have spent years crafting. So now sitting perched on the edge of that worn red couch, I know why I’m not happy. And lacing up my Keds, I set out on a mission to find a bigger jacket.

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An open letter to my dietitian

Dear dietitian,

For about the past four years, I’ve been in recovery from an eating disorder. I’ve been to two treatment facilities, seen nine different therapists, and have had meal plans more structured than the Egyptian pyramids. I’ve done art therapy, psychotherapy, yoga, dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness courses, meditation…you name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve always followed the rules of recovery, laid out plainly for me by healthcare professionals in a variety of facilities. I’ve followed all of the rules except one. Most people in recovery from eating disorders will tell you: the recommended outpatient team consists of a therapist, psychiatrist, and dietitian. For almost four years, I’ve flown under the radar. I see my therapist a number of times each month– more when I’m having a rough time. I visit my psychiatrist faithfully as we near the end of each page of the calendar. But I avoid dietitians.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why seeing a dietitian is worse than unloading the dishwasher for the millionth time. Maybe I don’t like giving up the control of my meals to a random individual. Or perhaps it’s a fear of having someone know the details and peculiarities of my eating habits. Even when I was forced to see nutritionists or dietitians in treatment centers, I could never open up to them. There was a constant fear of judgment. And a perpetual fear that their only mission was to make me fat. So maybe it’s a combination of these factors that makes me stray from dietitians more than other healthcare professionals. Whatever the case, I decided to finally confront my fears after my most recent relapse.

Last week, I clutched my hazelnut coffee tightly as I ran across a street in the center of town. I was running late — again — and clumsily trying to shove a few quarters into the nearest meter, meanwhile attempting to prevent the raindrops from diluting my coffee. My hands were shaking, no doubt, as I frantically looked around for a staircase in the building. Of course, it was nowhere to be found. I jammed my finger onto the grungy elevator button three times. Short of breath, I finally walked into the nutrition center. Greeted by the relaxing scent of a vanilla candle, dim lights, and a smiling blonde, I let out a deep breath. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

Dear dietitian,

That afternoon, I cried on my way home. Because all you wanted to talk about was the sugar content of fruit. Because you wrote out a meal plan with plain yogurt as a staple. Because you had not one, but two scales in the corner of your office. “Experienced with eating disorders”, you told me. And as you explained that I could “scoop out” the insides of my bagel to limit carbs, I couldn’t help but wonder if your experience was from a personal standpoint rather than a professional one.

When you told me that vegetables are “freebies”, you placed an inherently negative quality on all other food groups. When you suggested that I look for bread made from sprouted grains, I wanted to laugh at you. Because squishy white bread and an extra slice of cheese are okay, I’ve been told. When you put boundaries on my carbohydrate intake, you validate every irrational anorexic fear of pizza I’ve ever had. When you suggest that I choose only the KIND bars with less than 5 grams of sugar, you’re slapping me across the face for listening to my body’s cravings and tastes.

Dear dietitian,

Trust me, I know what 2 tablespoons of peanut butter looks like. I’ve been professionally trained in the art of exchanges. But I’ve also been logically bound to the belief that there’s a place for intuitive eating. So when you tell me to only have half a banana for my snack, you’re tightening a knot in my mind that has taken years of treatment and hours of therapy to unwind. It’s sad because you don’t even realize that two years ago, I refused to eat bananas for their starchy texture and high sugar content. It took me months to relearn my love of bananas (especially with peanut butter), and years to understand that there is no strength in deprivation.

Your meal plan is a road map rooted in nightmares of years past. I remember one day in treatment, I was pulled out of group for an individual art therapy session. The therapist asked me to draw a road progressing from my eating disorder to recovery. What would it look like?, she asked me. I still have that piece of artwork crumpled somewhere in a closet of my parents’ house. Your meal plan belongs on the left-hand side of the page, though, where the bridges are rickety and jagged rocks threaten from below. Your voice sings in the corners of my mind, echoing thoughts of restriction and thinspiration. Light English muffins, 300 calorie lunches, organic ketchup, and empty stomachs are the foundation of your nutritional advice.

But somewhere along the way, I’ve learned that mom’s homemade Garlic-Parmesan rolls leave more than an oily residue between the ridges of my thumbprint. And Ben & Jerry’s might have more significance than the percent daily values written on the container. Somehow, I’ve picked up on this notion that food is fuel, food is happiness, food is okay.

Dear dietitian,

I think you scare me: not because I dislike you or fear your intentions, but because you are my eating disorder. Sitting across from you at a wooden table is like facing the other half of my mind. For so long, I’ve been taught to scream, to yell, to disobey that voice telling me to stay away from buttery goodness. Now, for this hour, I’m faced with my eating disorder personified as a sweet, young, vibrant nutritionist. Someone who’s here to help me. Someone who “knows best”. I think you scare me because I want to like you. I want to listen to you. And it’s terrifying that after so many years, I’d even be tempted to return to a life of restriction.

I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m saying that I’m different. I’m not your patient struggling with weight loss before a wedding. I’m not the pregnant mother seeking nutritional benefit for her little one. In fact, I’m not even your by-the-books eating disorder patient. I’m not like the bulimic you helped three weeks ago. And the girl with BED you’ll help five years from now? Listen to her, listen to her needs. But for now, just listen to me. I am a human with a complex relationship to food. I have a story that is all my own. Plain yogurt with honey and cinnamon might be perfect for your 1:30 client, but I am not a Scantron exam to be filled out with a No.2 pencil. There is not one right answer.

Dear dietitian,

Don’t mistake disordered eating habits for health. Don’t forget that my smile can be measured just as easily as my waist. Don’t let pop culture and the fad of gluten-free living skew your knowledge of nutritional science. Don’t be upset if I send this to you, and don’t be offended if I walk away. I’ve adopted a philosophy of honesty to others and advocacy for myself, which seems to be stronger than my will to return to my eating disorder.

Dear dietitian,

Thank you.

Love,
Haley Del Plato

An Erasable Journey

I threw the pebble out in front of me, chosen for its smoothness and lack of jagged imperfections. At six years old, even I could distinguish beauty when confronted with it. It landed on the number 3, and I squealed in excitement – my birthday falls on the third of June, so it must have been a lucky toss. One foot, two feet, one foot. Don’t trip, stay within the boxes. After almost an hour of playing, the sidewalk chalk had begun to disappear, drifting off with the scent of our cherry lollipops in the spring breeze. It didn’t matter, though. We knew the pattern by heart, so we kept playing. Kept tossing markers. Kept hopping through wobbly hoops, our light-up sneakers leaving patterns on the pavement. We kept playing by the rules, and eventually my sisters and I all made it to the end of the board.

Recovery, however, is not a game of hopscotch.

There is no marked trail, no sequence of numbers. Rather, you must jump before you can see your landing place. At dinnertime, you cannot pack up your toys and go inside. Recovery is not an erasable journey.

I was always taught to follow the rules, perhaps to a fault. Yes, I was that second-grader who owned up to forgetting her homework, even though there was a substitute teacher who wasn’t going to check. 1 + 2 will always equal 3, I was told. But in recovery, sometimes you have to do (2 + 1 x 3) – (4 x 3 – 6) +4 in order to get a solution totaling 3. It’s not as straightforward as a foot beyond chalk boundaries. It’s not as simple as choosing the best stone in mom’s garden. I thought that if I stayed within the lines and worked on my aim, I could win the “game” of recovery. Turns out, a new  board is drawn each morning and a new set of rules added to the mix.

Recovery is a moving target, a bulls-eye with borders made of Etch-a-Sketch lines. Instead of markers and game pieces, we throw burning Monopoly money. More often than not, it disintegrates before reaching the concrete. Our jump ropes are weighted, our hula hoops are shape-shifters. Our timers are filled with granules too large to pass through.

It is no simple children’s game we play, no.

Some days I find myself wishing for chalky fingers and skinned knees. For the days when my largest problem was my baby sister knocking over our doll-sized bakery. I wonder if kids these days even know what a game of hopscotch entails. For the past six years, though, I too have been playing a different game. One bite, two chews, one swallow. Don’t purge, stay within the lines of my journal. But it was somewhere within those hand-drawn boxes, the PlayDoh ice cream cones, and mom’s bedtime kisses that I developed an eating disorder. How does a problem so deeply rooted in childhood solve itself, if not for rules and smooth stones and sisters’ laughter?

Maybe that’s just it, though. Ruled paper, for my thoughts and dreams and writing into the wee hours of the morning. Smooth stones, recovery rocks awarded upon graduating to a new level of treatment. And sisters’ laughter — mine right alongside theirs.

How Panera is helping me through my relapse.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Panera Bread, ever since I was little and my cousin (who worked there) would bring us home treats at the end of her shift. Years later, my younger sister made her debut at the Panera cash register, too. Panera was certainly a pre-ED favorite restaurant of mine. Whether I’m dining on soup, salad, sandwiches, breakfast items, or smoothies, I’m never disappointed in my choice (except when I don’t distribute my salad dressing evenly and am left with a bunch of dry lettuce at the bottom of the dish).

When my sister started working there, I was in the depths of my eating disorder. I was absolutely terrified of the bagels and pastries she would bring home for me, and did all I could to avoid them and their massive caloric content. Even at the beginning stages of recovery, anxiety strangled me when I walked through those double doors. Now that I’ve been in treatment and recovery for years, I’ve learned to love Panera once again for a number of reasons. Read on.

PORTION CONTROL
My eating disorder has instilled in me a massive fear of overeating and gaining weight. One of the biggest challenges has been eating out at restaurants, partially because a) I don’t know exactly what’s in the food, and that used to anger ED, but also because b) portion sizes at restaurants tend to be triple the normal serving size. Panera totally calmed part B of my fear, as their portions are just what a “normal” person should eat (of course, this is generally speaking – everyone’s dietary needs are different). It’s just enough food to fill you up, but doesn’t leave you in a dramatic food coma or feeling guilty for the next five days. Not that we should ever feel guilty about honoring our cravings. Because DUH, there’s no place for guilt in the kitchen. Along the journey of recovery and treatment, Panera Bread has provided me (and a lot of my friends) with comfort in knowing that it exists as a realistic and doable option when eating out.

BALANCING ACT
My favorite thing to order at Panera is the “You Pick Two” combination. With this option, you choose two of the following: 1/2 a salad, 1/2 a sandwich, cup of soup. In addition, you get a side: bread, apple, or chips. This allows a customer to choose a variety of food groups, which is especially important for anyone on a meal plan. I can feel good going to Panera and knowing that I’m getting a little bit of everything depending on what I choose (carbs, fat, protein, dairy, fruit, and veggie). My favorite balanced option? 1/2 of the Sierra Turkey sandwich, 1/2 Caesar salad, and an apple. Why? Number one, it comes on delicious Asiago cheese bread. But in regards to exchanges it gets me carbs (the bread and croutons), fat (dressing), protein (turkey breast), dairy (cheese), fruit (apple), and veggie (lettuce and onion). Pretty darn good if you ask me! Super helpful in a relapse because I’m steered towards more normalized and balanced meals. Panera also supports the recovery-centered notion that “no food is bad food”…what does this mean? It means we’re allowed to treat ourselves sometimes! Nothing is off limits, and everything is okay in moderation. So go ahead, get the fudge brownie (hint: it’s scrumptious).

OPTIONS, OPTIONS, OPTIONS
I’ll admit, I’m the kind of person who gets stuck in a bit of a rut when going out to restaurants: I tend to order the same thing over and over again (as long as I liked it the first time, of course). With Panera, though, you have SO. MANY. DELICIOUS. CHOICES. There are still some things on the menu I haven’t tried after going there for years, and they’re always adding new stuff. Going to Panera helped me during recovery because of the size of the menu. Decision-making was always tough for me, and was something I was working on in therapy. Going to Panera squashed that fear of making “the wrong choice” pretty quickly. I’ll be honest, it was difficult at first because of all the calorie counts listed. But going to Panera puts me in a situation where I really have to consider what I’m craving and what my body needs most, because honestly, I’ll like anything on the menu. There simply is no wrong choice!

FOR HERE OR TO GO?
I drive past a Panera on my way to work (well, technically there are a few ways I could get to work from my apartment, and one of them happens to pass by Panera). Now there’s no reason for not bringing a lunch to work, even if I haven’t gone grocery shopping in two weeks. They also have this cool thing where you can order online or from your phone, choose a pick-up time, and it’s there waiting for you. No wait time = no excuses. It’s all perfectly portable and can be ordered to-go. Their service is generally pretty quick, too, and their prices are reasonable. Trust me, I know it’s easy to get lazy with recovery. But this is a basically foolproof way to combat your eating disorder, even on days when you’re too tired to make a PB&J or keep track of your exchanges.

Okay, I think I’ve raved about Panera Bread for long enough now. Any other suggestions of restaurants or meals on-the-go for those in recovery and/or on a meal plan? Share yours in the comments, por favor!