Eating Disorders Unveiled: The Truth About Weekend Anorexia

Have any of you  – out there blogging in the universe – ever noticed how bloody difficult it is to start a post?

This clearly has nothing to do with what I’m about to delve into, but I noticed that I spent like 30 minutes trying to come up with some “catchy” intro – only to land here – admitting my utter defeat to the intro paragraph.

I lothe introductions and pleasantries. So, Happy Sunday – all the jazz. Hope it’s been a good one. Etc. Etc.

Now, let’s proceed:

DISCLAIMER: I’m covering a topic today that I’ve never seen mentioned in the eating disorder world, and I’m interested to see how you respond. Bash it, critique it, relate to it, I’m open to all feedback (except, like, hateful 1,000-character rants. Then, I’ll just stop reading and repeat over and over to myself “people will love and hate you and none of it has anything to do with you.”)

Anyway, there’s this cultural mantra we live by: “80/20 dieting.” Goes something like  – you eat “clean” (i.e. arbitrary set of often mishmashed food rules) through the week, and then you can go ape-shit on the weekend and eat whatever mounds of processed crap you feel like consuming.

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I’m not a fan of this system. I’m not a fan of any system – and not in the RA-RA I’m some Joan of Arc way, but because I’ve tried that mentality. Hell, I’ve tried every “clean diet” mentality – and none of it worked for long before I inevitably wound up elbows deep in sugary cereal, binge eating my brains out underneath the covers of my childhood bed. (Ohhh how I don’t miss the days of waking up in a pit of smashed cereal bits, rolling around on top of them in my sheets.)

I digress:

Because today, I’m not writing about the 80/20 mentality. What I’d rather focus on is the opposite, little known phenomenon I’ll deem as “weekend anorexia.” Maybe “Satorexia?” “Sundarexia?” (I mean if doctors can call an eating disorder ‘drunkorexia’ then Sundaerexia seems like a cinch.)

It goes something like this:

Saturday, I laid in bed till close to 11:00am.

Went to Michael Franti at Red Rocks on Friday. Heaven, as that magical venue always is. As shows do, we stayed – swaying in the wind – until midnight and went to bed around 2:00am.

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In turn, I slept late.

Picture it now:

11:30am. I just dragged my tired, danced-out bones from the bed. CAN LITERALLY FEEL THE BONES CRACK IN MY KNEES as I hobble to the bathroom.

— how I hate being on the cusp of 30 years old sometimes —

So, there I am. Barely moved, hair piled atop my head in some loosey goosey fashion – in the middle of brushing my teeth, glancing at forehead wrinkles, when my partner pops his head in.

You want the usual? He asks.

Toothbrush in my mouth, I slob out a dramatic “no” – wrinkling my nose.

You … don’t want my breakfast? He says, indignantly. The one you say you regularly dream about?

I shake my head. I’m good babe; not hungry yet.

Well, you probably are, he says – pointedly. We ate at like 5:30 last night. I think you just don’t realize it yet.

I’m fine, I say again, muffled as toothpaste drools down my mouth. I had a couple chocolate covered pretzels that I put by your bed. It’s almost lunch, so I’ll eat then.

He makes a face – in this way he does where I can tell he’s really saying “that makes no fucking sense, but OKAY.”

Yes, I saw the two pretzels. You left bits of the coating in the bed.

I smirk.

I’m gonna heat up a little for you, okay?

No no, it’s fine.

I’m going to.

Okay.

Okay.

30 minutes later – I’m sat his kitchen table, half an egg and a few pieces of garden lettuce in front of me.

I’m eating.

You want a full breakfast now?

No, I say defiantly.

No, he repeats.

No.

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I have tried to write this bloody post for – admittedly – three years. In fact, I opened up the saved draft yesterday, and saw that the last saved version I had was when I still lived in Brooklyn (a solid 2 years 2 months – and 10 partners – ago at this point.)

Truth is, I dunno whether to LOLZ over that, or be somewhat fretful that 2 years and 2 months later, I’m still called to write about this phenomenon because I experience it so innately. So regularly. And so frequently in our culture.

So, here it is: There is something about the freedom of schedule on weekends that tickles my anorexia-fancy.

In the past, I’ve correlated it to Drunkorexia: i.e. the tendency to drink Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s at Saturday brunch until I’m just “too full” to eat more than a sliver of my eggs Benedict.

And truthfully, there’s a connection there too. There can’t not be. We typically drink more on weekends – we are “free” to consume our forget-my-daily-grind substances.

Drunkorexia is – and remains – a huge issue in our culture.

However, as I’ve become more transparent over the years – and frankly just too open to bullshit – it’s consequently unearthed a larger reality about my eating disorder:

I dabble, we’ll call it, in this aforementioned “Weekend Anorexia.”

There’s some mentality ingrained within me: if I eat “normally” (cause who ever really eats normally with an eating disorder) that I have a pass to eat less on the weekends when my structure is less rigid.

And maybe not even eat less – but eat shittier too.

Our culture is so die hard about this 80/20. 80/20 we scream!!!!!  We’re desperate for food structure, like that doesn’t end up just side jabbing us like a cheap shot. EAT RAW, VEGAN, VEGGIE, WHOLE GRAINS DURING THE WEEK – EAT PAPA JOHN’S ON THE WEEKEND. 80/20 – SEE!!!!!!!!!!! TOTAL FOOD FREEDOM!

Naw.

For me, Monday-Friday you can find me with my yogurt and blueberries and banana – Instagramming sushi, office lunches, and then find me in the break room digging through the drawer of Cheez-its and Granola Bars for a 4:00pm snack.

I eat whatever the fuck I want.

I’m in my ‘flexible okay’ groove with recovery on week days. I have a schedule; a routine. I make HelloFresh meals, or I box up some of my partner’s leftovers when he cooks. I waltz across the street to Hapa Sushi or make a chickpea and couscous dish that lasts a few days. (No, I am not being paid to promote any of these brands LOL.)

But, there’s a shift on Friday.

You get me off schedule – my token, perfectionism schedule – I find an excuse.

I swear – half of recovery is simply rooted in learning how not to lie to yourself. Which, frankly, takes a helluva lot longer than relearning how not to lie to others. 

I took note yesterday – around 7:20pm – while sitting at a sushi restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, adorning a Fedora (naturally, cause #Boulder) and finishing a roll that frankly cost way more than white rice and a slab of fish should ever cost:

I did it again.

That meal the first real one I’d had all day.

Ate with my partner that morning at 11:30; the sliver of a meal he made for me, regardless my protests.

“You realize that’s not a full meal?”

I smirked. It’s fine.

It’s like 6 bites.

I shut down the convo.

Frankly, I both loved and hated that he noticed.

The forever oxymoron of an eating disorder.

Anyway, I ate what he gave me and I came back after running errands around 2:00pm. Sitting around, watching 13 Reasons Why season 2 – I poured out some tears like a child on the last episode: thought about the people I’ve lost. Maybe not to suicide – but overdose.

I ate a solid couple handfuls of chocolate covered pretzels to compensate my tears.

“Am I hungry?” “Am I not hungry?”

Meh – not hungry.

I should eat.

But, I don’t have to.

Pulled on a dress – packed some leggings and a sports bra.

Meh – I should work out. Then I’ll eat.

Nothing crazy. A couple mile run. I’m not over-exercising, I say.

I finally went to dinner.

The whole day gone – and all I’d consumed was a few chocolate covered pretzels and a few bites of eggs and sprouts and half piece of toast.

Unacceptable, my therapist would say.

BOOST, my treatment center would say.

Why? my family would say.

Be honest, my inner voice says.

There’s a sneaky, persistent belief I hold that there is power to not eating. I wonder, sometimes, if that might forever snake into my eating choices. Truthfully, it’s hard to know if that will one day fade, or if I will always have moments like this – as I write a blog – where I think “how often am I doing that?”

The answer would probably surprise me.  That momentary “Oh Jeez, Linds.”

We live in this “brunch” culture ya know? This culture where we wait to eat, and combine meals into one.

We drink at happy hour – drink Mimosas on a Sunday. We’re constantly a little bit foggy on what our intuitive hunger cues are – and what we’ve positioned them to be in order to match diet culture and brunch life.

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WTF.

It’s 3:20pm today, and as I wrap this up – I thought “what’ll I have for dinner?”

Then, I noticed the time. “Oh – I’ll think about that later. WAY TOO EARLY.”

Like, no. I ate brunch at 11:00am again today, so of course I’m starting to feel hunger.

It can be difficult to connect those dots.

How easy it is to try and box all this stuff up into “before and after.” Before, in my eating disorder, I did X or X or X. Now, in recovery, I eat three meals a day and eat whenever I want!!!

Shush. Not true.

So much evolves in recovery. Every year I’m in this – I become more self-aware. More and more in tune to the sneaky ways that anorexia claws her pretty fingers back into my life.

Every year, I forgive myself a little more.

I’ve always had such DIRE consequences when I don’t follow my STRICT ways of being or existing on this planet.

But, last night, upon this realization – I knocked back the rest of my wine – stabbed at that last bite of spicy salmon with avocado – licked my lil soy sauced fingers, and shut my laptop.

Paid the bill, smiling up at the busy waitress – cause here I am: owning my shit in a sundress. My belly full, alone and outside as the Boulder sun fades behind the Flat Irons.

I eat dinner alone now. I take myself on dates.

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Stopped and applauded a street musician; left a couple bucks. He grinned back “you gotta good smile, girl. Genuine.”

I laughed. Not always, but most of the time.

Walked slowly – over the bridge – grinning at couples passing.

At an aging man carrying his wife’s purse.

Stood at the bridge – dress swaying – to watch two men in rafts float down the rushing Boulder creek.

Shed a tear – outta nowhere man – as a duck rushed to guide her ducklings away from the surface from the roaring water.

I don’t really care, these days, whether my recovery makes sense to the world.

And more than that, I don’t care to qualify it when I recognize patterns, like this “weekend anorexia” bit.

The beauty in recovery is the clarity it bestows on you, overtime. Again and again.

Clarity to watch children run through downtown sprinkler heads – their curls bobbing and their shrieks loud.

Calmness to write without a need to “prove” my recovery to anyone.

Presence to no longer feel immediately forced to leave the situation I’m in for a gym. Or a run.

Ease to let the “relapses” pass, and become simply that. A step back.

Of course I wish some things would fall into place easier than others.

Naturally, I want to be completely free of this sickness.

But, how much easier it is – to be okay and flexible enough to know:

That it doesn’t always have to be this way.

It won’t always be this.

Flexible in the flexible.

Thank God – I know it doesn’t have to always be this way.

 

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8 thoughts on “Eating Disorders Unveiled: The Truth About Weekend Anorexia

  1. Brooke

    Thank you so much for this and everything you do. Your posts always seem to be so relatable at the time. Keep being so honest and please never stop writing about these things. For a long time your blog was the only positive Ed related support I had. THANK YOU! <3

  2. Jennifer

    I think this is common in early recovery but not something that is normal as you get older. If you are eating less two days out of the week, your likely to meeting your needs overall. JMO- you are still very very thin. Maybe eating on the weekends would help you get to a healthier weight.

  3. Julieanne

    Legit— after writing my comment I realized why this post is so long because the topic so hard to explain, name, and nail down… I understand why this post has spent 3 years in the works.

    I am definitely in a week/weekend pattern. I find myself sort of in the opposite though.. maybe.

    Routines tickle the fancy of my anoretic tendency.. so I am constantly forgetting meals. Particularly lunch.. which I’m usually scrambling to squeeze in at what’s supposed to be PM snack time. Then I have grad school at night from 5:30-9:30pm so dinner is funky by default. Food choices and intake are much more structured during the week, too.. due to me packing my meals (and having little cooking skills and little desire to cook) or having exactly where I’m picking up food on my way to wherever because I don’t have much room in my schedule to get from one place to the next.

    It’s harder to forget/easier to remember food on the weekend. Social events are typically around food so it feels like my meals are more planned. I pretty much use any reunion with a friend as a meal, too. It’s like on the weekend I’m like of course I get a piece of cake at the wedding/shower/bday, with no second thoughts because I know I love cake. But during the week… I probably wouldn’t even consider having the cake. It’s not multiple days of the weekend or many times a day. I just feel unsafe in it. Binging isn’t common in my disorder, but this type of behavior has always felt like my version of binging.

    This weekend freedom can also be restrictive, too. Like sleep all day— eat jelly beans here and there and try and figure out if it’s ok that breakfast is at 5pm and what does that do for the rest of my meal plan. Or I’ll go light on food during the day compensating for the group event/harder dinner at night. Also, I bloody HATE brunch because of the time. Like do I eat before/after/during. 10 mimosas is at least 6 exchanges, right?! Do I eat again when it goes into dinner? What do I even eat? A full meal? Oh sh*t I needed a snack, too, It makes me lose all knowledge and throws me for the biggest loop.

    Clearly I’m not an intuitive eater yet, and unsure if I ever will be but I want to. I’m not sure if these are the thoughts you were wanting when you asked the question, but here they are. My week/weekend eating disorder remnants are undefined, but definitely patterned.

    I guess the biggest question is.. now that it’s in our awareness, what are we doing about it? Are we better planning for recovery on the weekend know our tendency?
    Because that’s what matters. That’s what’s at the root and heart of it. Of us. Now that the pattern has been identified.. is it helpful to recovery/where I’m headed. With enough practice our brains will rewire and adapt so that the weekend doesn’t signal anything different food-wise.. if we are willing to give up out fear and let it. Will we change the behavior and allow our brains to change and adapt? Good God, we are such beautiful human beings. Our bodies are capable of so much… especially when they’re nourished. So grateful.

  4. Kari

    Yes. 100% guilty of this one.
    Sleep in, run from 10-11, walk to coffee shop as a cool down, stroll the neighborhood and sip large iced coffee, go home and shower…suddenly its past noon. Oops, too late for breakfast. Though I convince myself its “okay” if the weekend plays out like this because during the week I’m pretty good at not skipping meals, and I tell myself 5/7 isn’t all that bad.

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for being so honest, open, and beautifully articulating the unspoken realities…

  5. Jess

    Yes yes yes. My ED’s favorite weekend restricting tactics:

    1: “I had a late/big breakfast” is a perfect – and seemingly innocent – excuse to skip lunch.

    2: Sleep in, and suddenly it’s too late to eat breakfast because it’s too close to lunch, so just wait it out (because meals obviously have to happen at certain times 🙄)

    3: Or “I drank to much last night, I’m too hungover to eat” (when in reality a nice pile of eggs and hasbrowns would probably take the edge off the hangover…if you actually had one.)

    And sometimes – or often – this results in restricting Monday (and Tuesday…okay, maybe Wednesday) because I ate/drank too much over the weekend. Skipped the pizza lunch with co-workers yesterday to make up for my weekend.

    I try to embrace the flexible recovery. For me, it’s definitely better than no recovery at all.

    PS – I’m 31, 30s aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be 😉

  6. Angelina

    I have never related to anything more. Filling out food logs that are perfect (read: 100% dietician prescribed meal compliant) Mon – Thurs but noticing how on Friday night there’s a huge shift. It’s almost like the weekend is a different world, a different reality, and I’m just waiting for Monday to return to “normal” (whatever the hell that is…) Thank you so much for sharing this.

  7. Jen

    THIS. Thank you for this post–I can totally relate. Perfectly productive and scheduled weekend? No problem eating recovery-style. No guilt, no moralization, no shame. Feels like a random Tuesday. But when I try to have a relaxing, unstructured weekend…HOO BOY. (Especially if I’m alone…) Sure, recovery taught me how to time my meals based on my daily routine…but not how to eat in the absence of such a defined schedule. So I’m left trying to accept the uncomfortable fact that the vast majority of my attempts to unwind are going to include some disordered eating.

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