4 Ways I've Learned to Make Peace with Disordered Eating
Food will always be an issue for me. As much as I wish I could eat intuitively, and not give a thought to my meals because eating well comes so naturally to me, it doesn't.
Ever since I was a child, my weight and appearance have always been a big deal to me. Much of my day and energy was focused on my physical appearance, especially the number on the scale.
Around age 22, I started to feel ill and discovered a holistic method to healing (whole foods, raw vegetable juices, and colon hydrotherapy). This breakthrough left me feeling like I'd finally figured out what foods were best for my body, and how to eat to feel and look great.
Eventually it wasn't enough. I found myself overeating healthy foods to the point where I was feeling sick, and I'd often restrict or juice fast to make up for overeating. Even though I was eating only the healthiest foods, I still was in a painful space physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I found myself often wanting to juice fast because I just didn't want to think about food.
I didn't want to deal with the stress of preparing a meal, of grocery shopping, of knowing exactly when to stop eating because I was satiated, or the fear of overeating something sweet and then wanting something salty to counterbalance the sweetness, or eating too much salt and then wanting to guzzle water to quench my thirst (this is a big no-no for good digestion)! I even became scared of certain foods such as baked yams, avocados, fruits, and goat cheese because I didn't want them to cause me to gain weight, get bloated, or feel uncomfortable intestinally.
I found myself leaving so many foods behind that when it came time to eat I felt paralyzed. At the same time, I felt famished physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As much as I loved my healthy meals, I didn't enjoy the consumption of them. I was far too stressed out about the entire experience of eating a meal.
As I mentioned, food had mostly been a negative, stressful issue.
This was often because I was obsessing over calories and fat grams. Other times, I worried about whether or not the food was 100% vegan or organic. Or if it was exclusively raw, perfectly combined, or eaten at exactly the right time of day.
So what I've learned is that there are things I can do that honor my body rather than deprive it while still focusing on food.
If food is going to be a big issue in my life, you can bet it's going to be focused on nourishing, cherishing, and feeling grateful for my body; not wishing my body and food away.
Here is a list of things that I do to honor and cherish my body:
1. I make fresh vegetable juicing a priority.
This can feel inconvenient, especially with having a seventh-month-old baby in the house. I've learned to get over it. If my daughter is being fussy when I want to make my juice, I put her in my ergo carrier, strap her on my chest, put on some music, and make my juicing time fun. No matter what, I get that green juice in my body. My awareness of its benefits makes this priority number one for me. I just don't feel the same when I don't get that liquid nutrition and chlorophyll into my body first thing each day.
2. Exercise has to be fun.
If I can only manage 5 minutes of fun exercise each day, that's all I do. I have used every form of exercise as a form of torture or as a means to criticize myself, even yoga. Now my exercise mostly consists of long walks with my daughter, bouncing on my trampoline, and doing exercises that feel good to me such as squats, crunches, pilates, and yoga as I see fit. When I focus on exercising in ways that are fun, I feel so much gratitude for my body, and that makes the healthy eating habits so much more easy to stick to.
3. I meditate on my meals.
I don't light candles and sit cross legged to decide what I want to eat, but I do make sure that I take time every day to be still and think about what I really would enjoy that day. I go to the market when I can and get fresh ingredients to make my dinner meal exactly what I want. But if it doens't come out perfectly, that's OK too, because I have other pleasures in my life: books, poetry, writing, my beautiful family, great friends, and great movies. I keep my meals plant based and healthy, and I know that even if my palette isn't perfectly pleased, my body is getting the nourishment it needs.
4. I write every day.
Even if it's just a few lines, I make journaling a priority. Throughout the years I have found writing to be a constant healer for me. I can get my negative thoughts on paper (or computer), and all of sudden they're not that big of a deal anymore. I've also discovered reasons behind a bad mood, solutions to problems, and ambitions of mine through journaling. It's nothing short of magic. It leaves me feeling more emotionally and mentally balanced, which leads to better choices in all aspects of life (not just with food and eating habits).
When I find myself feeling paralyzed around food, I go back to this simple list and make sure that I've been keeping up with what I know works for me. This helps me come to a place where I can live my life from a place of personal peace. This has allowed me to cherish and value my body more than I ever have in my life.
I hope this post inspires you to set out on your own journey to learning how to feel nothing but immense gratitude for your body and all of the amazing things it does without you ever even thinking about it, and all it enables you to do in this world.