When Overnight Oats Become All-day Oats

Getting my breakfast out to finish my breakfast at 18:14

It has occurred to me fairly recently that something which I really want/need to develop as I try to manage my disordered eating is a sense of regularity and routine. At different times throughout my life I’ve had different patterns, but one thing that’s always been a struggle is eating in the morning. Feeling stress and anxiety upon awaking can definitely contribute to me not eating, as well as a pervading sense that I have something far more urgent to do, like go to a lecture, or write an essay, or get to work on time. Any excuse, really, but the reason is often linked to the idea that ‘I don’t have time’.

Perhaps this is because I have poor time management skills. Actually, no, I definitely have poor time management skills. I leave all my university reading til the last possible moment – cue me today eating my lunch at 13:45, trying to finish the required reading for my seminar at 2pm. This habit of leaving things till the last possible moment seems to translate in to my diet as well. For a long time when my feelings towards my body shape were more violent, I forced myself to delay my eating for as long as I could stand it. These days, quite a few years into practicing the rituals and techniques of restriction that I developed for myself when I viciously hated my body, I find myself in a strange position where mentally I want to restore my diet and body to health, and yet in action I often make many of the same choices I made when I was actively restricting, in a king of strange, unconscious, habitual manner. I’m not sure if I would even notice it if it weren’t for my boyfriend having to ask me the question “Do you think you might want to have something to eat soon?” many mornings in a row.

To try and combat the issues this irrational thinking creates and give myself no excuse not to have breakfast, I’ve recently taken to making overnight oats. The main reason is that I can easily take these with me in a lunchbox if I can’t make myself eat it before leaving the house. It’s literally no effort, so time isn’t an excuse.

Today I had lunch at about 1pm: 3/4 of a basil and tomato pasta salad. I started to eat the oats before a seminar, but after 2 spoonfuls the professor came in, so I put them away and forgot about them. I finally finished them this evening, just after 6pm.

I feel like I should’ve eaten my full breakfast and lunch by 2pm, not at 18:15. Now I’m obviously no expert on regulated eating (duh) but I feel like breakfast at around 8-10am, lunch at maybe 12-2pm and dinner at 6-7ish sounds about right. Maybe a little earlier, maybe a bit later, and fairly flexible within those hours. So yes, it seems I am aware of around about when you’re supposed to feed yourself throughout the day. And I supposedly want to be doing this properly. Yet still, in the moment where I should be thinking ‘oh, it’s, 9:30am, I should probably have breakfast now’, I’m thinking ‘ I have uni at 12, here’s a list of every single thing I need to do before then in order to get ready for the lecture, except eat.’

I think part of this is that I’m really good at ignoring hunger cues – so good, in fact, that I don’t even realise I’m doing it. Either that, or I have affected my ability to properly feel hungry by the mild abuse of my digestive system in the form of restriction. Whatever the cause, it seems that either I’m not listening to, or simply not hearing, the call which tells the average human that now it’s lunch time, and now a few hours later it’s dinner, and now even more hours later it’s breakfast. I seem to hear a panicked voice say “shit, it’s 10pm and I haven’t had dinner, what can I whip up out of a cupboard of dried ingredients that need soaking and a piece of ginger?”

The truth is, I have to get organised. And since I’m disorganised in every aspect of my life – my room fluctuates between being pristine and submerged in discarded belongings, my sleeping pattern hasn’t been regular since I was a toddler, etc etc – this is going to be very difficult. And I think it has to be a holistic, slow, “it’s a process” type change. But the impatient perfectionist in me that has become used to instant gratification is not so thrilled by this concept. I’d like to start getting up earlier, eating earlier, and going to bed earlier, rinse and repeat, but I’ve fantasised about that since I was about 15 and never been able to enforce it.

All in all I’m not really sure what the point of me writing this was. I suppose I just wanted to air some thoughts, seeing as I haven’t written a post in months. Articulating these thoughts should, in theory, help me track/document/chart my progress or journey in the long run. But it’s also quite cathartic during the writing process too, so I suppose the point of this post was really to get me writing, and thus processing, again. Thanks for reading, if you got this far through these neurotic ramblings.

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