When Progress Doesn’t Feel Like Progress + Sausage & Roasted Red Pepper Pasta


My original motivation with picking this dish: the spiral noodles, formally known as “gemelli pasta.”

Anything with spiral noodles is okay with me because it reminds me of that spiral noodle Kraft Mac & Cheese, which I’ve always loved. I even have a box in my cupboard after my therapist challenged me to have some foods in the house that I’ve been restricting and/or afraid of, and that had been carbs for quite some time.

This was my first time using a chili pepper, I almost threw it away with the bag it was so tiny hiding under all the other veggies. The recipe card said to remove the ribs and seeds for less heat in the finished meal, but A) I don’t mind heat in my food, and B) that thing was way too small to even think about removing anything from it. I could barely hold it between my fingers to dice it up, but I managed. I also managed to wipe my eye with my chili-covered fingers and nearly went blind. 20 minutes later I could see again.

The diced chili pepper was sauteed with garlic, Italian sausage, tomato paste, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese to create a creamy meat sauce with a kick to it. Add in the cooked gemelli pasta and top with more Parmesan and I had a fancypants big girl spiral pasta dish.

My fancypants big girl spiral pasta dish got me back on track after one binge/purge episode this week. Just one, which is down from several a week, and this – my therapist tells me – is called progress.

I tell her here’s why it doesn’t feel like progress: because it means eating disorder behaviors are still happening. And the goal is, of course, to stop ED behaviors completely.

My therapist explains we look at other factors to identity progress, not just whether behaviors are taking place. We look at how many episodes we’ve decreased by per week since beginning treatment. We look at the fact that one binge/purge episode in a week means six days of being with my everyday feelings and triggering experiences without running from them straight to engaging in behaviors. We look at how the overall relationship has been with food throughout the week: if food was consumed when hungry rather than bored, upset, sad, lonely, if the cooking process was enjoyable, if and how often ED urges happened, whether acted upon or not.

So while progress doesn’t feel like progress on the surface when you only look at one factor – that there was still ED behavior present this week – widening my view to include other factors shows me that I am actually making progress. Progress that may not look like much to the outside world, but progress I have to latch onto and look at as success in treatment.

I hope this shows you how to widen your own view and see your small victories for what they are – progress, because we have to count them all. Each one moves us forward and stacks up to become a foundation for our recovery. I’m proud of you for whatever progress you’ve made this week. Share with me below so we can celebrate together. Xx


2 comments on “When Progress Doesn’t Feel Like Progress + Sausage & Roasted Red Pepper Pasta”

  1. Karen H. Reply

    counting small victories is so hard. I see them as nothing when I need to see them as building blocks. I didn’t restrict two days in a row this week and am trying to see that as progress.

    • freshrecovery Reply

      That is so progress! I know it’s hard to see such “small things” as progress but they truly do build the foundation for our recovery, and the foundation is the most important part <3

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