If you’ve read my “about” section, you got a snippet of my history with food and body image and how they ran my life. But that’s an understatement; they consumed my life and defined my worth. From age 12 to my late 20s, I checked every box on the list of eating disorders. In my mind nothing was more important than being thin, and food, or lack there of, was the way to get there.
What I didn’t know then was that while this preoccupation and obsession gave me a sense of control, it also became my addiction; fueled by the belief that happiness and security can only be found when you have the perfect body. But even at my thinnest, all I felt was empty.
I was rigid and strict, hyper-focused on only allowing myself a handful of foods I deemed “good” and only at specific times of the day, despite how hungry I was. And after years of trying to maintain this, my body fought back, hard, leading me down the path of binge eating, which I would then make up for by going days of skipping meals or eating very little because I didn’t “deserve” it. This restriction only encouraged more binges, bulimia, and ultimately landing me in a place where I realized I had lost all control.
My relationships had suffered, I felt drained and irritable all the time, and was unable to concentrate because I was so mentally preoccupied with calories and my body. I was so tired of not being able to sit down to a meal and just eat without analyzing every detail about it. I’d stare in wonder at the people who could eat one piece of pizza or one cookie at a time and be completely in control and at peace about it.
“How do they do that,” I’d think.
Back then I’d stuff myself full of veggies and salad always waiting for the next bite to satisfy me, but it never came. I never felt satisfied. No matter how full my belly was, or how hard I tried to convince myself of how “healthy” I was eating, there was always a sense of longing and lack and bingeing was my body and mind’s way to cope with this deprivation.
I yearned to able to eat normally and be free from the power that food had over me, but felt completely hopeless. No matter how much willpower I conjured up or how many times I swore to “never do it again,” I found myself continuously caught in the vicious cycle and all-or-nothing mindset that keep so many trapped.
Sharing My Story
Telling your story is hard. Once I was free from the chains of my eating disorders, I wanted to put it behind me and never revisit it. But life is about sharing your struggle so that you can help others, which I see so very clearly now. I was healed from something I never thought I’d be free of, which is why I share hope and the steps necessary to put an end to food running your life.
Today, I can eat a piece of pizza, or three, and simply soak up the pleasure of doing so, guilt free. I no longer lose control and polish off six or seven pieces anymore because it makes me feel like crap, and frankly, I don’t even have the desire to anymore. Long gone are the days where I was steeped in shame and guilt, planning a course of action for getting back on track and burning all the calories. Eating doesn’t feel like a game where I get penalized anymore or rather, that I’m a “better” person because of my food choices.
Healing didn’t come quickly or easily, but it came, and here I am; set free and eternally grateful. But it wasn’t until I began challenging my restrictive beliefs, learned to listen to my body, and allowed myself to eat the foods I had deemed forbidden, that I was able to kick my unhealthy relationship. It was a slow process and one I had to take in steps, which is quite different from how most of us approach change, but it started working.
At first I felt out of control, terrified that I’d gain weight, and eat everything in sight. And the truth is, it wasn’t a super smooth process, and I did have to learn to be uncomfortable with giving up some control. I also had to start thinking about food differently and challenging all the various rules I had been following, many of which I came to find were only keeping me stuck. I began to tap into what my body was asking for, not what I thought it should have. I also gained a few pounds, but I’m now at a weight where my body is thriving and energetic, and I feel strong and healthy.
Finding Pleasure and Nourishment in Eating
Sitting down to a meal now feels easy and pleasurable. My focus has switched from mentally digesting the meal to soaking up the enjoyment of the experience. What once felt like torture, when someone would cook for me, now feels like a luxury and one that I welcome at any meal.
I make food choices based on what I want, trusting that my body will let me know when it’s had enough, which took time to learn but is now second nature. Stuffing my belly at every meal is a thing of the past. Once I started to eat the foods I wanted, I found I filled up faster and needed less, not wanting that bloated, sleepy feeling I was so often left with.
I don’t wake up thinking about what I’m going to eat each day or how I can trick my body into eating less. Food doesn’t consume my life anymore, and it feels amazing. And it’s because of this that I want others to believe they can heal as well.
Now, I know I’m making this sound much easier than it is, and by no means do I want to trivialize the struggle. It takes patience, practice and a willingness to try a different path. As well, there may be other factors that come into play for many, such as emotional health, which may play a critical role in one’s recovery. You also may find that you’re contending with old habits, behaviors, and patterns that might be working against you, but for anyone caught up in an unhealthy relationship with food, permission, a willingness to listen, and trust are essential components in being set free.
Need some guidance? I’d love to help.
Call, text, or email me. I’d love to hear from you.