September 3rd 2018
“Each day when I wake up I hope that things will be better. This morning it felt that they were. I felt good. The sheets felt soft around my body. The rain fell nicely outside, I took comfort in knowing I did not have to go outside just yet. I enjoyed the rain. I enjoyed my body. I enjoyed being beneath my sheets. My back felt a little stiff. I felt I should have practiced. But I chose not to. I thought I should just enjoy this moment, enjoy feeling good. I made myself a smoothie bowl. Somewhere midway through eating it – I stopped feeling good. As my belly became more full, I could feel every inch of fat on my body. Suddenly I felt guilty for not practicing, now I didn’t feel like practicing. I crawled back into bed. The sheets didn’t feel the same, the rain looked grey and depressing. I couldn’t think of anything worse than having to get dressed. I left it to the very last minute, I changed 5 times. I looked so fat in every outfit. I weighted myself. Confirmation. I am fat. It is okay I told myself ‘We will lose it’. I wanted to eat more, but I knew that was just to drown out the way that I felt. So I didn’t. I missed my train. I felt like I might cry. I bought a chai latte at the station. I felt so guilty after drinking it. Why am I so consumed by this? I never write any more, I never read any more. I am barely living. What does it even mean to live.”
This is a diary entry of mine from just three months ago. Of course, it is very personal to share although I know now that I am no longer in that place and I feel that it captures a lot of how I felt on a regular basis. I had developed this unshakeable guilt surrounding food, when ever I had not eaten it was like an achievement, the feeling of having no food in my belly gave me a greater high than the feeling of actually allowing my body to function optimally. I have never suffered with an eating disorder per say, now when I reflect on it I would use the term ‘disordered eating’ which stemmed from body dysmorphia and a strong lack of self worth, the eating habits were just a manifestation of what I was feeling inside. For years and years, I have had these same feelings around food, never able to sit and enjoy a meal, and when ever I did allow myself to eat ‘off limit’ foods, I would be so hungry I would eat them in excess and be entirely disgusted with myself. I am healing, I am able to talk about it now, I enjoy food, I eat to fuel my body and if I am desperately craving something then I allow myself to eat it in a small quantity to satisfy the craving, rather than being deprived and resulting in a binge.
I know I am not alone in these behaviours and feelings and that is the only reason I have decided to share this, to let you know you too can heal! You do not have to be tormented by these toxic thoughts and feelings, you can start to enjoy being inside of your body and not be afraid of social events. I know I know, you are reading this thinking ‘no never’.
Decide that you want to get better, that is our first goal.
Below I am going to give you 5 tips on overcoming food guilt and create a better relationship with your food and body.
#1 Get professional help! Chances are that there is something going on for you much deeper than how it is being manifested on the surface. Often we will think ‘but its not that bad’, I always felt because I wasn’t actually underweight, I wouldn’t be taken seriously. This isn’t how your relationship with your food and your body needs to be, seeking help will help you to understand what is really causing these habits and thoughts.
#2 Stop the diets! Each time you diet or try to restrict what you are eating, you are starving the body which will undoubtedly result in a binge somewhere along the line. Eat the right amount of calories for your body and energy expenditure.
#3 Mindful eating! Set time aside to eat, enjoy your food, cook from scratch and sit without TV or distractions, feel and enjoy your food. Give thanks for it, think about everywhere the food has been before it has arrived here on your plate, think about how it will fuel your body.
#4 Allow yourself treats! When I say this I do not mean ‘treat your self to a macdonalds’. For me my treat is peanut butter with banana and a bit of dark chocolate, I am huge advocate for health and I think there are lots of healthy choices for what might right now be considered a ‘bad food’. My theory is that if it is causing you more mental distress to not eat a particular food then it is better to eat it and satisfy the craving, once you make peace with allowing yourself it you will crave it less.
#5 Start loving your body! This can come in many forms, start speaking more kindly to yourself, every time those toxic thoughts come in replace them with kind ones, write, take up a new exercise or movement, dance, buy colourful clothing, change the draining habits of hating yourself that you have had for a lifetime. Once you start to love and appreciate your body for everything it is doing for you, you will want to eat, because you know your body cannot function without food, and that binges and periods of starvation are not good for your body.
I know it is hard, and heaven only knows how many blogs and how to’s I read without ever getting better. This has absolutely tortured me for years. In the end though your body knows what is best it will fight to keep you alive, that is why you binge after a starvation period because your body takes over to keep you alive. When your body is aware that it is no longer going to be restricted those feelings will be less intense. It is possible to get better. I know that you can, because I am, I fuel my body so that I may be stronger, I do not feel guilty for doing something that is literally keeping me alive.
I hope this finds you well today,
all the love