It is November and the holidays are coming up. A binge eating opportunity literally handed to you on a silver platter with people telling you its OKAY to do it because of the date. Know this, these people do not mean you any harm, they just do not know the struggles we face. It is also important to understand that we can’t judge others who want to do this on a special occasion such as the holidays. This is because they very well may have a positive relationship with food so doing so doesn’t have any negative consequences. So I want to make two blogs pertaining to the holiday
1) A prerequisite, if you will, about relationship with food and healthy versus unhealthy habits
2) The second blog will be keys to my success last year to a positive and health holiday season.
But first a little side note
The more people who reach out to me for eating disorders the more and more I begin to really think about the struggles, my struggles, their struggles, etc. For me, it all seems like a blur I told someone, that someone made it so I would have to get help, and then I was getting help and working towards recovery. Before that (and this is a blog for another time) I mentally really hadn’t come to the realization that I did have an eating disorder. I had come up with all the excuses in the book as to why I wasn’t actually bulimic. Its not after every meal, I workout to lose weight, you name it I said it. I think is a pretty common thing but let me tell you none of them are excuses. I did have a problem. I think I may have intentionally blocked some things out of my memory so as not to get emotional about them or let them control my life. The more I connect with people though its almost like the more I remember details about all the struggles. It resurfaces but this isn’t a bad thing it is actually a beautiful thing. In order to be the full and best person for someone to share their stories with I need to not hold anything back emotionally . These memories don’t put me in a bad place because I am strong as hell now and I can face them, I am not even the least bit worried. So please keep reaching out so we can talk. Please note that I am not actually trained in this field and I want to help as many people as I can and support them on recovery but it is crucial to get professional help as well.
First off, some of us may not even understand that we have an unhealthy relationship with food so lets go over a few scenarios on healthy vs unhealthy
- Healthy: No food (outside of dietary restrictions) is banned. Every food is fine to eat once in a while or in moderation.
- Unhealthy: Banning yourself from EVER eating a food you want or like because of the calories in it, the nutritional value, or because it will make you skinny not to eat it or fat to eat it.
- Healthy: Eating to the point you feel full
- Unhealthy: Not being able to stop eating after you are full or eating to the point you are so full you hate yourself, all the time.
- Healthy: Thinking about your next meal and what you are going to eat
- Unhealthy: Being overwhelmed with the fact you need to eat all day and obsessing over what and the calories.
- Healthy: Eating something that had no benefit to them and move on from it
- Unhealthy: Obsessing over eating something bad and punishing yourself for it
THESE ARE JUST SOME OF THE THINGS THAT MAY INDICATE AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
What is society doing wrong to promote a negative relationship with food?
Let me start by saying this. We live in a society where we have to cater to the needs of a lot of different people getting offended easily. Some have very valid reasons and some do not. I am all for preparing people for reality but there IS a line and it can’t all just be deal with it and tough love. One of these instances where we need to be careful is within the messages we are sending and I am seeing TONS of “fitness models”, “models”, etc sending a not so good one. Again these people may not mean any harm but our brains are easily shaped and molded by those we look up to. If we are in a role where we are out in the public eye, which is becoming more common and easier with social media, than we need to pay close attention to what we say.
Here is one of my least favorite quotes in the whole entire world “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. The person who said this was a popular model she was a girl that I am sure everyone pointed to in a magazine and said I want to be like HER. Therefore, they look up to her and listen closely to her. In turn you have tons of little girls thinking that their anorexia or bulimia is sexy and the cool thing to have. They end up extremely sick and families are destroyed because of it. As I mentioned earlier the wrong message is easier to send out these days with the uprise of social media. Just recently I saw a “fitness model” someone a TON of people look up to post an Instagram story of her doing some “Extra cardio to earn her food”. This is SO so so so so so so so so (x13423432) wrong. We NEED food to survive. Undereating shuts our bodily functions down, makes us sick, and causes us to gain weight in the long run. So saying you are going to the gym to earn your food implies that your options are go to the gym and earn it OR don’t eat. Neither of these are great options. To often the public eye of society promotes unhealthy habits with the click of a button or a simple sentence. The problem with society is we have people in the public eye who think their poor relationship with food is normal and are encouraging others to think it is okay as well.
If you are going to put yourself in the public eye than you have an obligation to do better for society. I don’t care what you think you do. You have to many people looking up to you wondering what you are doing and wanting to be just like you. If you tell them to do something and they get hurt, sick, or fail that is all on YOU. I am sorry for that little tough love moment but it needed to be said. So please think of what you are posting and how it can influence someone before you post it. To many people are looking for someone else to tell them what to think so lets shape the world to think the right things.
For those of you in recovery or skeptical of food find someone who is open with their struggles yet still sports a positive relationship on food!
How did my relationship with food get damaged? How is it now?:
Growing up I LOVED food and to me food was something GOOD. I was skinny I could eat whatever I wanted but when that stopped I became a little more weary of it. It wasn’t until very recently that I got a complete understanding of nutrition and making the right choices.
Ironically enough I don’t think my relationship with food was severely damaged until after my first attempt at recovery and I will tell you why. When the eating disorder first got really bad in 2014-2015 I KNEW that what I was putting into my body was bad. My binge eating was stuffed pasta with alfredo sauce, Hershey’s bars, demolishing full bags of food, etc. I had enough nutrition knowledge to know that those things were not good for me I just had this idea that I would never have a good body so it didn’t matter what I ate. YES, binge eating, wanting to be skinny, ALL of that is definitely a negative relationship with food. What I am saying is it wasn’t AS bad until I picked the eating disorder back up.
When I decided to start losing weight the healthy way, through exercise and diet, my personal trainer gave me a foods list of things I could eat. Through NO fault of her own I became obsessed with the list. Essentially, I deemed it the only foods I could eat. The truth of the matter is that there were so many other food options available to me that I was leaving way to much room for me to feel guilty if I slipped up because it wasn’t a super expansive list of foods. In reality it was just a list meant to help me get started but I clung onto it. This list was SUPER easy to abide by during the summer I could easily access a grocery store, I had TONS of time, it was not a problem. However, when I got to college I had my downfall. I went to school in the middle of nowhere and the grocery store was across town, then we had a chef in my sorority house who didn’t cook TOO healthy, and then obviously sticking to that list of food became harder and harder.
This was bad for me mentally because I was CONSTANTLY going off of that list of food so in my brain I wasn’t constantly making unhealthy choices causing me to get angry with myself. At first I wasn’t insanely hard on myself, I wasn’t exactly happy but it was a minor slip in mindset, but I didn’t slip back into any old ways. Then a little bit of weight got put on and I started getting real hard on myself about the food I ate (yet still went out and binge ate and binge drank), and then finally I saw to many changes in my body for the worst combined with not being happy with my diet. So there I was a few months clean(ish) and then back to my eating disorder I went. I didn’t just take a step down I fell hard. I stopped caring I chose drinking over working out, I chose to go and binge eat every night after I drank, and I chose to tell myself I would fix it in the summer. Yes I fixed it that summer but then I went back to school and that vicious cycle repeated. It took me FOREVER to find the in between, to get rid of the guilt. I had deemed all food and any food the enemy and the eating disorder as the only way to lose weight. It didn’t just change overnight it took PRACTICE and seeing that what I was doing was working to really understand that food was okay.
I remember when I used to eat pizza during my negative relationship (a VERY rare occasion) I would take a wad of napkins and wipe all the grease off of it. Today me and food may not have perfected our relationship but I will tell you that we are doing so much better than we used to do. Now I can eat cupcakes, pizza, sushi, whatever I want in moderation. However, it all didn’t happen at once. First off, I was put on a meal plan and once I saw that eating a little more expansive amount of foods on that meal plan caused me to lose weight and body fat I began to understand that it isn’t about not eating food or depriving yourself of calories it is about making the right food choices. Once I was making good food choices and seeing results in the gym I felt like it was okay to treat myself to some unhealthy things in moderation. At first I felt really guilty but the more I treated myself to something unhealthy on occasion the more I noticed it wasn’t hindering my results. So for me it clicked that it wasn’t about depriving myself of all foods for weight loss it was about balancing nutrient dense food and foods that stop me from wanting to completely binge out.
In all honesty after vacation I failed once, it was a few days after we got back. I went out and drank and had something unhealthy and I made myself sick. I called my mom crying but I think it may have taken that failure for me to realize that I needed to stop drinking and focus on my health. This reduced the amount of instances I was binging and I was able to put myself in a clear mind space to focus on recovery. I am not perfect I had failures and ups and downs but here I am recovered.
I encourage you all to do the same. Make the hard choice, possibly sacrifice friends who don’t get it, sacrifice the things you love but is holding you back. You only have your health and once you lose that you have nothing.
What are some helpful tips to practice positive relationships with food?
By now you should know I write a lot about what worked for me. However, I have realized something. When I explain to people what they can do or give them advice I feel like I sound silly. I am telling the most simple things to them and I know putting it to action is actually what is harder.This is partially because I don’t have psychological training and I can only give help from an I’ve been there stand point. My goal is to be the person that supports someone in their journey to recovery to go encourage them to go and get help. I am here to tell you its okay to get help don’t be ashamed. I am here to provide as much guidance as I can. Here is one thing I want to make clear, these actions ARE simple and effective. What is hard is getting yourself to stick to them enough to make them habits. I cannot stress this enough do the action at all costs. I don’t care if it seems silly, I don’t care if you don’t see it pay off in the first few weeks, I don’t care if you do not feel like doing it DO IT. What happens is you begin to start doing them without having to think about it because they are becoming habits. Our habits define us so when we are forming positive habits we are changing our actions and our mindsets. So here are just a few suggestions.
I am mainly going to go over this in the next blog but I wanted to give a few tips to practice in the mean time
- Try putting smaller portions on your plate. If you put all the food on your plate at once you may be tempted to binge and eat it all even PAST when you are full causing you to be upset with yourself.
- Stick to meals that make you feel good about yourself MOST of the time. Give yourself 1-2 unhealthy meals a week instead of completely depriving yourself preventing a binge.
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you are full stop there is a difference between full and being full to the point where you want to throw up. The best way to do this is to take mini breaks in between eating. Don’t go for 6 slices of pizza all at once. Have two and assess how you feel. THIS HAS BEEN SO HELPFUL FOR ME.
Practice these tips to get yourself started and next week I will give more tips on how I survived my first holidays without resorting to an eating disorder for the first time in years. You aren’t alone these holidays. Reach out to me or reach out to someone. We can talk about what you can do and we can hold one another accountable. You are never alone.