Hi there! My name is Lauren and I am a 24 year old working in the world of digital marketing – Search Engine Optimization to be exact! So what is The Clean Plate Diaries, you may ask? As you can probably already tell, this blog is dedicated towards food, fitness, and living a happy lifestyle. But it’s more than that. It’s about working toward my ability to lick the frosting-covered spoon, to lick the extra jelly off the butter knife, and ultimately, to clean my plate. It is also about eating cleanly and simply – having a “clean” plate of food, consisting of healthy, fresh, and delicious ingredients. But why those things? Why *another* foodie/fitness blog? That’s where my back story comes in!
To be honest, this blog has been in the making for some time now. I was constantly starting and deleting and restarting and deleting simply because I had no idea what I was doing. And, if I’m being honest… I was terrified. Opening up about having faced anorexia, opening up about still struggling with disordered eating, and, on top of that, admitting that I’m a HUGE foodie… is scary. But, I think keeping a blog like this will help me along my journey further through recovery, and maybe help a few others, too!
So here’s my full story….
I grew up in decently large suburban-ish central New Jersey town. I had three best friends, a great family, and attended a very large and diverse high school. During sophomore year I started going through a lot of typical growing up changes. All three of my friends had boyfriends. One friend went to another school, so I very rarely saw her, while the other two began going on double-dates and such, which left me feeling totally alone. School work began drastically increasing and I began feeling very pressured about soon applying to colleges and admittedly having no idea what I wanted to do. I’m also a very introverted person, which left me feeling a little bit secluded from the outgoing world around me. I distinctly remember Easter of this specific year, tip-toeing to the kitchen that evening to sneak tiny forkfuls of tiramisu. After this little kitchen escapade, the boy I had been “talking to” called off a date so that he could reconnect with his ex-girlfriend and I was completely shut down. I felt alone in nearly every sense of the word.
After that night, it was like a switch had been turned on out of nowhere. I remember looking in the mirror the next morning and telling myself, “You’re not fat, but you could be better. ” I began very slowly and smartly. I didn’t want people to know. I started packing slightly less for lunches, I started running in the mornings, and I started “heading to bed early” so that I could workout in my room without anybody noticing. I guess I didn’t hide it too, too well because my friends ended up going to our school’s guidance office about my “ideas to diet”. When I was called down, I denied it all and silently hated my friends. They sent me back to class, because really, I hadn’t lost much weight at that point and there wasn’t much more they could do. But that summer, away from classmates and teachers who might notice, I really dedicated myself to weight loss. I was very stereotypically anorexic. I had a journal in which I wrote “good” foods and “bad” foods. “Good” foods consisted of cucumbers, rice cakes, sugar-free gum, and plain vegan ‘chicken’ cutlets. “Bad” foods consisted of a very long list, but four foods really stick out in my mind: peanut butter, apples (?), pizza, and ice cream. I later learned that these could be distinguished as my fear foods–foods I not only didn’t allow myself, but actually physically, mentally, and emotionally feared. I counted calories, allowing myself 500 per day, then 400, then 300.
I also kept track of my exercise. For every calorie I ate I would work off twice as much. We had a treadmill in the basement that I would run on and after every mile I would check the estimated calories lost and if it wasn’t a perfect number ending in 00, 25, 50, or 75 I would continue until it was. And then I would say, “eh, 50 more calories won’t hurt.” Looking back I don’t know how I physically maintained this. I began feeling cold constantly. My hair and nails were brittle and dull. It hurt to sit on hard surfaces. I stopped getting my period and began noticing bones that I hadn’t before. My eyes always looked sullen and my skin was growing pale. I was told I always looked tired.
My friends would often try to make plans to grab lunch or dinner and I would always decline for fear that I wouldn’t know how to calculate the meal into my daily plans. And because I spent what little energy I did have on exercise, I very rarely made the effort to see them otherwise. I began losing my friends, which only pushed me further down the rabbit hole.
That fall, I went to school in sweatpants and long sleeve shirts. I was never the type to do this, I’ve always been one to try and look fully put together. My grades began slipping. The only things I felt like focusing on were calorie counting and how many more sit-ups I could do in one sitting. Then, one morning in first period, a secretary came in and asked to speak with me. When I went to her, she handed me a hall pass and told me that the substance abuse counselor wanted to see me. Immediately this huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I don’t know how I knew that this would be about my drastic weight loss, but I knew. I momentarily considered denying everything and just continuing on with my “diet”. When I arrived at her office, she told me that a teacher had came to her concerned about my “drastic summer weight loss”. She asked if I wanted her to contact my parents about this and without even thinking about the option of denying it all, I said yes. When I weighed myself that morning, the number had dipped into the 60s. It was both incredibly satisfying and incredibly terrifying. I knew that things were spiraling out of control, but I didn’t know how to get out. This was my way out.
Coming home that night my mom was heartbroken as to how she didn’t notice what was happening. But how could she? I hid it very well and seeing somebody every single day makes it hard to notice a drastic change. We made an appointment with my doctor and found a psychologist that specialized in eating disorders.
Eventually, I was diagnosed with anorexia, depression, and exercise bulimia. I spent four years seeing my psychologist and three and a half years seeing a nutritionist. During that time I’ve learned so much about health and fitness, about my own happiness, and about living fully (and flavorfully). I’ve made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and learned more about myself than ever before. And now, here I am. I’m not FULLY recovered–I often wonder if anybody who has went through an eating disorder ever fully recovers–but I am in a good place. I still have my bad days, but more often, I have great days. I do restrict myself from certain foods, but I am much more open to indulging in others.
And that’s where this blog is born! I still struggle in leading a healthy and active lifestyle and being a true-to-heart foodie. Here is where I’ll share that journey–my experiences with food and flavors, maintaining a (reasonably) active and healthy lifestyle, and simply enjoying life. Of course, having dealt with anorexia, engaging in (reasonable) exercise and sticking (reasonably) to healthy foods can be a challenge. I’ve had slip-ups that landed me back towards where I started, but today, I am healthy and that is all that matters. I hope you enjoy following along with me and if you are going through something similar, I hope that you may find a sense of hope. And if you simply like food and fitness, I hope that you can find some enjoyment from my page!
Either way, I do hope that you enjoy my blog and continue to follow along my journey!