Read to me:
There is so much uncertainty. With your TBI, with everything! And that drains you. It’s hard to be motivated and you’re confused about what to do next.
Have you gotten into podcasts? I was listening to a really fun one the other day. It’s a limited time podcast for these quarantimes. It’s hosted by a couple. One of them lives with a chronic illness and also practices as a psychotherapist. The couple’s banter back and forth is hilarious. Plus sprinkled in are some nuggets of psychotherapy. The last episode I listened to talked about the importance of “checking-in.”
“Checking-in” can either refer to checking-in on yourself or checking-in on others. It’s the very simple concept of connecting with what’s going on. However for some reason this isn’t always so simple to do.
During your recovery maybe you’re not hearing from as many people as you would like. I know I thought more people in my circle would have checked-in on me. But when the tables are turned I understand why this is may be a hard thing to do.
In my opinion we hesitate to check-in because we may think…
“I don’t want to bother them, they’ve got enough going on…”
“I just don’t know what to say and I don’t know how to help.”
In this podcast I was listening to they gave some concrete things you can do to check-in. And one of them was simply asking “have you eaten today?”
Well? Have you?
I know for me this question pretty much saved me from having a worse setback in my recovery.
I have this one friend who in the past has worked on the frontlines of distress response. Checking-in is second nature to her. Well, a few years ago I was at the depths of my depression and at the height of my symptoms. Just getting through the minutes of the day seemed like a battle. I was hanging on by a thread.
So even for me, a dietitian, eating was something that fell by the wayside.
“What have you eaten today?” This friend asked me over a phone call. “Uhhh…” I replied. I hadn’t even realized how little I was actually consuming! And until that moment I hadn’t even noticed how little motivation I had to even just make toast.
I do remember at one point thinking “ok, I can’t keep eating like this. I need to get myself some really healthy food.” But the pressure of “healthy” as a standard I had to meet, at a moment where using the toaster seemed overwhelming, just made me delay eating even more.
“What would 6-year old Krystal want to eat?” My friend then asked me. “What?” I replied.
My friend went on.
“Think of yourself as 6-years old. What would that Krystal want to eat if she could have anything?”
At that moment, my eyes lit up.
“Chicken fingers!” I blurted out and my friend replied “well go get some!”
That very afternoon I went to the store and bought frozen chicken fingers, a can of peas, some packaged creamy noodles, plus ice cream. I had a big smile on my face as I pulled up to the cashier with my cart of 6-year-old goodies. I felt like that kid in Home Alone when he goes shopping for the first time on his own.
The pressure was gone, and I was able to eat.
I know what some of you might be thinking: canned peas — ew. LOL. Canned peas were a staple in my house growing up! All those foods were (there’s no need to “ew” at any foods! A food you dislike may be someone else’s favourite!) And at that moment, when I bought and ate that meal as an adult, I wasn’t eating “packaged food” — I was consuming nostalgia. And that sprung me forward into making the more adult food choices I needed to get out of that setback.
These simple questions “what have you eaten today,” and “what would 6-year old Krystal eat” were crucial for me. But I’m guessing, on some level, you’re also questioning my food choices… “Frozen chicken fingers? Canned vegetables? Packaged carbohydrates and sugar? Is this dietitian saying that’s the food I should be eating??”
If ‘shoulds’ could turn into ‘woulds’ & ‘coulds,’ we’d all have a lot more power to choose…
Reflecting back on my 6-year old meal and how that kickstarted my nutrition, I realize something. These questions, “have you eaten today,” and “what would 6-year-old Krystal want to eat” may have got me out of that setback. But I was able to “stay out,” keep going and continue to improve my nutrition because of all my experience with nutrition and helping others with theirs.
You see, it’s been a long time since I’ve realized that just teaching you what to eat simply doesn’t give you the best nutrition. I need to truly pass onto you not just my knowledge, but my skills, motivation, and the power of choice to adapt in tricky situations.
For some, checking-in with the simple question of “have I eaten today?” may be enough to prevent your own setback. But you need to be able to follow that up with answers to other questions:
“Do I know what to eat today?”
“Do I have the food I need to eat today?”
“Do I have the energy and am I hungry for the food I need to eat today?”
“Can I adapt the way I eat when things around me or my body changes?”
The answers to these questions may not always be accessible to you at all times. But that level of nutrition is something you deserve a chance at.
So, do you want that for yourself? Not just the knowledge, but the skills, motivation and the power to choose & adapt? Do you want to give yourself the best chance at preventing setbacks?
If you’re prepared to take that next step in your recovery with food & nutrition, then I’m prepared to guide you 🙂 I have designed a TBI Nutrition Masterclass that is kind to your brain. It’s the most compassionate nutrition class you’ve ever taken. It gets you to truly check-in with yourself and gives someone to check-in on you!
I look forward to helping you along your recovery journey,
6-year old at heart