The Day Toast Changed My Life
One day, toast changed my life. Literally. Sort of. It was many years ago, I was still living “on track” one day, “off track” the next mode that we all know so well. When I was “off track” I was still bingeing & feeling fairly out of control around food but I had been starting to try to work on noticing & changing my thoughts so I'd say I was in the beginning stages of awareness.
Anyway, I’m making myself toast one morning - with *gasp, shock, horror* white bread of all the blasphemous things - because despite vowing to “get back on track” that day, a mere hour earlier when I woke up, I had already decided I’d start the next day. So, I’m standing at the counter, making toast & listening to my thoughts as I’m buttering it.
They were abusive, judgmental and berating - because I was about to eat toast. “What kind of loser eats bread for breakfast? And white bread, even. It’s so bad. You’re such a screw up. What’s the matter with you? You’re gonna be so bloated and gross. This isn't going to build any muscle. You trained hard yesterday, you should be eating protein. God you’re an idiot.”
Then the voice started planning a trip to the grocery store for all the things we would get to binge on the rest of the day - yanno, because I’m such a stupid, screw up already - may as well just eat everything today because I won’t be able to have any of it anymore when I get back on track tomorrow.
Then it started getting all judgey again.
“You’re supposed to be having oats & eggs & 6 blueberries. That’s what you should be having. That’s a good breakfast. God you’re such a screw up.”
(yes, I used to actually have meal plans from my own coach with 6 blueberries in a meal - this is me rolling my eyes into oblivion) Then, like magic, something switched in my brain and another voice came charging in like a knight on a white horse and said, “Uhhm, dude, it’s just toast.”
The first voice stopped in its tracks and was like... “wait, what did you just say?”
White knight voice: “I mean, it’s just fucking toast. You don’t want oats and eggs and shit, you just want toast this morning. Normal people eat toast for breakfast sometimes. Why have you decided you're a horrible human because you feel like toast for breakfast? That's the silliest thing I've ever heard.”
It was like someone shook me out of a nightmare. Like, someone in my head finally threw me a life raft of sanity. The first voice was a little taken aback for a second and needed to sit with that information before replying ...”holy shit, you’re right!!”
Instantly, all abusive thoughts were gone, all thoughts of going to the grocery store for more food and all plans for all the things I was going to eat the rest of the day were gone. I ate and enjoyed my toast. A few hours later it was lunchtime and I realized not only was I getting hungry but I hadn't thought about food in a while. That alone was a miracle - normally I was consumed with thoughts of food non-stop. So I wondered, hmm.. can I use this new skill of just having what I want for lunch too? *gasp* Dare I? I asked myself what I wanted. I felt like a sandwich. *gasp again* But.. that would be bread... twice ...in one day. *the horror* The white knight rolled in with the reminder... it's okay to eat what you feel like eating. So I had and enjoyed a sandwich. A few hours later, same thing - I noticed I was getting hungry and again, I hadn't thought about food in awhile. I don't remember what I had for supper that night but I just ate a normal supper, of whatever I wanted. What was almost another day of being a complete train wreck with overeating things that made me feel like garbage by the end of the day, turned into just a normal day of eating and enjoying food. Because I shut off the voice in my head that been programmed by our insane diet culture.
That was the beginning of freedom... and getting my sanity back. And it was the beginning of using the same strategies successfully with clients who were also struggling with living in that "on track", "off track" cycle. Now, I have toast for breakfast a few times a week, but almost always even end up throwing one piece away because I'm full and regularly throw out half loaves because they go bad before I eat the whole thing. This is the woman who could eat an entire loaf of bread in one day before. That's not to say I'm advocating food waste, but I'd much rather see extra go in the garbage or out to the birds because I'm listening to my body when it tells me its full rather than stuffing in way more than I need because food rules programmed self-destructive habits into my brain and it's running the show. I'm not here to argue with you about what's healthy or the best way for you to eat. What I will tell you is that it doesn't matter how perfectly healthy and "clean" you're eating part of the time if the rest of the time is a complete train wreck because you're "off track" and eating everything you can't have when you're "being good". And, carrying shame, self-judgment and criticism over the way you eat is a hell of a lot less healthy than just having a cookie or two when you feel like it.
The healthiest way to eat for you is whatever way makes your body feel its best - and doesn't destroy your mental health or your relationship with yourself and food in the process.