Our awesome ambassador Sian pretty much sums up the Eatlean spirit! Whilst she may not be your typical Eatleaner, that is looking to keep an eye on their calorie intake. Sian has overcame an awful eating disorder in Anorexia. Check out her story below, and how, for her Eatlean is well and truly on the menu!
How did you develop your eating disorder?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly but it began, as most do with a diet (albeit I was already very slim) and then as I started to lose weight, it just became a cycle of ‘a little bit more’ until I was dangerously underweight and completely consumed by thoughts of food restriction and exercise.
What would you eat in a typical day?
I always ate 3 meals to attempt to keep up a ‘normal’ appearance. (I held down a demanding full time job throughout my whole period of illness) but they would be purposefully very low calorie foods, such as salad and lean meats or low calories jelly. I was extremely rigid in the times I would allow myself to eat and could not handle any spontaneous situation which involved food. For example being asked out for lunch on the spot would send me into a full on panic and I would be unable to say yes, because it deviated from my restrictive routine.
When did you realise that you needed help?
Again, its hard to pinpoint but I remember becoming aware of how frail I was, (it took a long time of not even being able to recognise that). Then spending all my time pretending and telling people I wanted to gain weight but never actually doing anything to combat it. Mostly because I just wasn’t able it was just so so scary as a concept to me when I was that poorly. I think when some of my closest relationships started to suffer I was motivated to push myself hard to gain the weight but it took a long time.
So what kind of treatment did you go through?
I started off with nutrition help. Essentially someone who wrote me a meal plan which progressively increased over time as and when I felt ready. It was extremely difficult each time it increased, but I made a promise to myself that I would not go to bed each night until I had eaten everything on the plan and as my weight increase. So did my ability to think clearly and overcome the negative thoughts. Even after being ‘weight restored’ for a number of months, I was still struggling hugely mentally and I found it even more difficult because people assumed I was better as I ‘looked’ better so I was having to put on a false front of being okay when inside I was fighting a huge mental battle still.
At this point I started therapy. I had been on the NHS waiting list for months but as I had gained a lot of weight I was no longer deemed a priority and so kept being pushed to the back unfortunately as the mental health services are underfunded so I decided to go private and it was the best decision I ever made. I was able to work through a number of issues and really get back to the version of me that existed before my eating disorder. Which was something, at times, that I didn’t think would be possible.
How is your recovery coming along?
Thankfully, its brilliant. I would say I’m not 100% like I was before my ED (primarily because I now know too much about calories etc which I had no idea of before). But I live completely freely of my disorder, I am able to live life doing all the things I enjoy. Food is just a part of all of that rather than being my sole focus. Spontaneous outings are now a thing of joy rather than an anxiety trigger, and I really am the happiest I have been in a long time 🙂
What advice would you give to anyone that finds themselves in the same situation you were in?
Get professional help!! 100% my biggest regret is not getting a therapist sooner. And also not to give up fighting. There are many days/ weeks in recovery where you feel hopeless and like you have gone backwards or that you simply just cant do it anymore. But always remind yourself that as long as you are heading in the right direction overall, hiccups are fine and are to be expected.
Recovery is the most courageous thing you will ever do and my goodness is it difficult! But I promise each and every person tackling it that it is worth it. I know its hard to believe at times because I also found it difficult to buy into when I was in my deepest struggles, but surround yourself with supportive, understanding people and take each day at a time. Celebrate every single win! There is no such thing as it being too small every time I ate something I previously feared, I high fived my boyfriend starting with maybe just a bite, to half of something and then to eating it all myself. Every one of these is immensely difficult at first and so if you manage it. YOU ARE INCREDIBLE!
And how does Eatlean help you in your nutrition?
Whilst I no longer weight manage or count calories, I like to make choices that I know benefit my health. I am a HUGEEE cheese fan and I love the Eatlean range for everything from pasta sauces to cheesy paninis!
Finally, which product in our awesome protein cheese range is your favourite?
Hmm this is such a hard one so I’m going for 3 (cheating I know!) I’m going for the baked which I love dunking warm bread in or using as a sauce for pasta with a dollop of pesto, spreadable which also makes a great creamy pasta sauce or on a toasted bagel with smoked salmon and finally tasty which has all the great taste as cheddar but with less fat which I use for toasties, on top of pasta or basically and meal!