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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chocolate is a girl's best friend?

In efforts to distract myself from the discerning events of last night, I want to write about something I love. Something that has aroused my curiosity and led to a bit of research and analysis--


Yes, that something is chocolate-- dark chocolate to be precise.

Maybe it's the silky smoothness that melts on the tongue or the bitter-sweetness that ignites every taste bud.  It could also be the smell of chocolate baking that provides comfort.  Or perhaps it's all in my head.  Maybe I have associated stress with the need for a comfort food, because  that's what "normal" people do.  I believe chocolate cravings are partly psychological.  One study found women crave chocolate because they have turned it into a nutritional taboo. It tastes wonderful, but it's sinful because it's loaded with fat and calories. Women crave chocolate when they are feeling low or before their periods because they have told themselves it is something they cannot have; therefore, they feel better because they've treated themselves with something that is sinful.  However many researchers argue that women crave chocolate prior to menstruation because it contains high levels of magnesium and women experience magnesium deficiency prior to menstruation. But it should be noted that many other non-craved foods also contain high levels of magnesium.  So is the comfort found in chocolate physiological or psychological?  Well, I certainly don't care.  This past week I've had a dose of the bitter-sweet remedy every single day, and I've enjoyed each bite.  

Does my indulgence in chocolate mean I am one step closer towards intuitive eating? Yesterday I had my evaluation and first night of the IOP at COPE. My nerves got the best of me when I stepped in the elevator and pressed the wrong floor button. I felt like I was in there forever. At floor 3, I worried the nutritionist would increase my meal plan. A stop at the 5th floor reminded me I would have to have my weight checked. When the door opened at the 6th floor, I had flashbacks to my worst memories at Princeton. 'What are they going to do to me? Why am I doing this? How long will I be stuck here and why is this elevator ride taking so long? I want to go home!' I thought as the 7th floor passed by. After what seemed like eternity, I finally arrived on the 8th floor, the Center for Overcoming Problem Eating floor. My voice cracked when I checked in with the lady at the front desk. I tried to speak softly and discretely to preserve my identity. I suppose I was embarrassed. I hate feeling like a target-- like "the girl with the eating disorder". Little did I know I'd leave the program 5 hours later dissatisfied, disappointed and confused.

To be brief, I was first disappointed when I found out I would be with 9 other high schoolers. I was really hoping to find and establish a community with other students who face similar stresses, have comparable struggles and can offer insight and support. I wanted to find someone who I could confide my concerns about apartment living and roommates. Instead, I helped a 15 year old overcome her despair after her best friend kicked her out of their lunch table. Don't get me wrong, I live for helping others, but I need help as well.  The food exchange system was reintroduced to me for the third time and to the others for the first, talk about a torturous hour of hearing what's been preached and ingrained in your brain.  Dinner was from 6-7pm. The first 20 minutes weren't terrible since I was able to enjoy a Mexican Salad I had prepared at home. But the next 40 minutes of sitting around were frustrating. I kept thinking of all the schoolwork I could have been doing and the daily life updates told by my roommates.  Afterwards I met with my assigned counselor-- aka a social worker (I'm not knocking on social workers, I respect and admire their work). She started with, "Do you have any issues with body image?" I think to myself, 'Are you freaking kidding me?! I have an eating disorder, what do you think?!' but composed myself and managed to say, "Yes, but I know that when I look in the mirror and see a distorted image, there is some underlying issue bothering me. My eating disorder is a way to block out feelings and emotions and I've worked diligently the past semester exploring my past, altering thought patterns and retraining my brain to not engage in certain behaviors." Her face turned blank, she shuffled her papers and said, "Wow. That's...really... that's really good". 'Ha, I know. What now?' I thought. The final group of the evening was supposed to be led by another social worker (who is actually a graduate student at Pitt's School of Social Work).  CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy is commonly used to help treat eating disorders. After I participated in led the group, the girls decided it would be more beneficial to play Apples to Apples.  I know I am bias and left the program with doubt and anger, but I really want time towards recovery to be efficient and effective.  I believe this program can be helpful for younger individuals who are at the peak of or have recently engaged in eating disorder behaviors. For most of them, they had never been in or exposed to food exchanges nor ED treatment. Furthermore what really bothered me was the fact that the nutritionist didn't seem to concerned with my weight, exercise habits or meal plan-- though I've lost considerable weight since I've been back at school. I honestly think I can maintain a healthier lifestyle if I wrote in and kept up with my food log as well as forming some sort of community for support. I have a phone session with my therapist from home tomorrow and I hope to discuss other possible treatment options, but in the mean time I can't critique and conclude an analysis of COPE based on one experience. I need to put a little trust and faith in the program and hope I will gain as much as I put into it.

And rather than over-analyze and critique certain foods and the psychological or physiological reasons why we eat them, I want to work on trusting my intuition and taste buds. If I want it, I can have it, eat it and enjoy it. I deserve it. WE deserve it. Because we're rock stars.

"I never met a chocolate I didn't like"-- Star Trek


  1. i'm sorry i am only catching up on you now! i am so glad to hear you're getting help at cope. even though right now you think it's not exsactly what you had hoped for. but give it some time. sometimes it can also be the Ed that is trying to convince us that nothing is right for us and all help is useless. give yourself the time and space you need to ajust to this new world. i am sure it will get better and i am 100% that you can learn from everyone around you. wether older or younger, collage or high school!
    sending you loads of care from here

  2. don't worry about what other people think/who your company in treatment is. you're there for YOU, and i'm sure you'll still connect with people even if they're younger. chocolate, yum! i do hope that means you're moving closer to intuitive eating :)

  3. you are there for YOU. for health. to reach out and to find new ways to cope. Dont compare yourself to others, honey. I know it is SO hard. You WILL learn from the others around you. Get to know them. It doesnt matter age, size, numbers.. you are there for HEALTH

  4. Ha I bet that social worker was a bit struck for words! Well done for being brave and honest. xox

  5. i love chocolate too. i'm proud of you for realizing that you DESERVE it whenever you crave it. our bodies are smart like that, we need to listen to them more. i agree with the others -- don't worry about what other people in your treatment surroundings think. you are there for you. get out of it what you can.

  6. Sorry to hear this. Maybe you could give it some time and at the same time, look for something else. Losing weight is so bad for you right now and I hope you realize that! Take good care and stay this honest with yourself, you deserve the best! (And chocolate of course, I have it every day!)

    xxx Julia (Taste of Living)

  7. I only like some chocolate, but it does make everything better :)

    Sorry to hear about your disappointing program. I understand what you mean about wanting a more efficient time there.

    Hopefully things will get better, though!

  8. It's tough to find a program that works...I had a lot of trouble with an IOP program I attended over winter break too. All I can say is try to stick it out and see if anything changes.

    Good luck!

  9. i need more chocolate in my life. i so wish it didn't scare the daylights out of me. everyone deserves chocolate everyday.
    bummer about the cope program, i know that's what iu had and they wanted me to be a part of it, but i was leaving for uc, so i'm not sure how similar they are. i think its important to give them another chance, but i would definitely be disappointed with that kind of experience. i hope your home therapist has some suggestions.
    beautiful please please stop dropping weight, it makes me sad :(
    sending love!

  10. chocolate is good rebecca love...
    one of the most magical movies i saw was when i was in depth of sadness and completely alone and i watched charlie and the chocolate factory in the dark on my little laptop while in the hospital...the one with johnny depp...chocolate...
    give the program another try....see what mean time...stop losing weight love...actually i am upping the calories way way more now...enuf of these games...tons more grains and starches...just dont care...let me soft and plushy if necessary....let me live life

  11. Oh my goodness. I have been a bit down recently and completely relying on chocolate (and coffee) to make me smile throughout the day.

    Chocolate is the greatest thing ever.

  12. It's fantastic that you have found something that can make you smile- if only for a moment. Chocolate is good for any occasion, happy, sad, mad, bored, when you feel ill, when you feel great. As you may or may not be able to see, I love chocolate!

    I'm sorry about your meeting being a bummer, I hope it morphs into something more helpful than a time for the other girls to complain about silly things.

    You are right, we all deserve it!

  13. I've found that it's really hard to find the right support. There are times I've wanted to give up. I've been stuck with all high schoolers in group before (when I was in my late twenties) and I felt really aggravated. I've also had the newbie therapists who seem like they're using me for their grad school thesis. I KNOW a lot, but it's hard for me to apply what I know to my emotional state. Finding someone to help with this part can be difficult, but there ARE people out there.

    Chocolate is great, by the way. My latest pleasure is chocolate covered raisins and chocolate covered nuts :)

  14. Rock Star! Love it! Well, im glad that you are listening to yourself and even enjoying some of the things you eat!
    I'm sorry the program is just not what you had hoped for, is there an out patient program that is strictly medical you could go to, and get therapy else where, because your right if its not helping you move forward what is the point? Its worth talking to your parents or current therapist about. Hang in there Rebecca!! <3 <3

  15. Im sorry to hear about that program.. I truly hope it helps you in the long run, though. Hang in there, dear... please enjoy that chocolate every chance you get!

  16. babygirl, i'm sorry to hear your disappointment in the program you are now in. i'm sure every program takes getting used to and i can totally relate to that "ugh, i could be doing something more productive with my time..." feeling but this is your life! recovery is priority and even though the girls there are younger than you, i'm sure many of them can help you in one way or another. take care hun and stay strong! i love you with all of my heart and am rooting for you!

  17. girl i am so sorry about thr program! take this as an opportunity to encourage these girls..i know you want encouragement yourself but maybe God put you there for a reason!! (actually, i know He did!) you are so sweet. i ate some chocolate after reading this!

  18. that is such a bummer about the program. i think it is great you are still going ot try to give it another chance, but maybe ther eis something better for you? & yay for enjoying some chocolate!!! love it :) stay strong, i want you to be healthy so badly because you are such an amazing girl

  19. sorry to hear about the program. i never went through a program, i just kinda did it on my own. suffice it to say i still have issues on my own, i don't blog about them a lot, but they prey in the back of my mind. A LOT.
    and chocolate? hahhaa an indulgence i need to take part in more OFTEN.

    GIRL me? beautiful!? hahah thank you very much! i've never thought of myself as beautiful, much less cute! =D and OMG YOU LOVE MAN V FOOD TOO! we should watch it (well whenever you watch it) and then DISCUSS like crazed fans. did you watch the special on the travel channel about like chowdown countdown?! i was riveted.

  20. Regardless of whether eating chocolate is indicative of you moving closer towards intuitive eating (I'm be super happy for you if it is!) I'm glad you are allowing yourself to eat a food which you enjoy. ;) Now if only you enjoyed that IOP program as well. Sucks. I'm sorry that the program seems like such a bad fit. I'd urge you to try and stick it out, at least until you find somewhere else to go. I know for me (and I swear I'm not implying anything, this was my personal experience) I insisted that the treatment center I was in wasn't right for me because I was scared that it actually COULD help me, and wanted to find any excuse to get out asap in order to keep ED safe. However from what you describe it really does sound like a less than ideal program. Just know that if you need support from someone who isn't in high school, I'm only an email message away. ;)


  21. Believe it or not I'm not really a chocolate lover. I eat it very rarely so that when I do it's a special treat and I get the best chocolate.


  22. It's been awhile since I last commented on your blog.. but I promise you I have been reading :) Congrats on gaining the appropriate weight to get to school! That is such a huge accomplishment and you should be so very proud :)

    I absolutely loved this post... I love your attitude towards this program. You are so insightful and have so much knowledge on your own disordered behaviour that it would be really easy for you to scoff at this ED team and walk away. It takes a lot of courage to stick it out, and you have really proved your strength.

    xox Tat

    chocolate is amazing :) ... and yes, you do deserve it :P