For years I’ve been in a constant state of trying to better understand myself and how I’ve become the person that I’ve become. I’ve been in and out of therapy and I have to admit that I am one of those people who believes in the benefits of therapy. That’s why the other day during a vent session with my husband I realized it was time for me to go back to therapy and address some issues that I’ve buried for a long time.
My relationship with food.
I think I’ve shrunk back from talking about this because I didn’t want it to become the thing that clouded my platform’s mission; to inspire and empower women to love themselves. I didn’t want to be labeled another fat person with an eating disorder either. But if I’m to love myself that means I have to address the less than savory aspects of my personality. So here I go!
When I was younger, I was usually taller than and bigger than most kids; or so I believed based upon the commentary of adults around me. Every adult in my life thought it was ok to tell me I was “a healthy size girl”, “chunky or chubby for your age”, or my favorite “maybe don’t eat all of that because you know…”. I was about 8 or 9 years old when a friend’s mother and aunt looked at me in horror as I grabbed a handful of candy from a grab bag at a party and shook their heads in dismay. As I looked around at the other kids grabbing the same amount if not more; I felt a shame settle into my bones that would last a longtime to come.
From that moment, food and I began a long and arduous dance. I came up in a tumultuous household; so going over to my Nana’s house was a reprieve. However, she always cooked, and I ate to be comforted.
Knowing that people would judge me every time I had a plate or snack in my hand pushed me to do what I now know is binging. I would shamefully shovel snacks and food into my belly in the secrecy of my room or when the house was empty. Depending on where I was emotionally would determine when and how much I binged. I only was able to force myself to throw up once or twice; so finger purging was never a component for me.
I would eat to the point of getting sick, and either vomit because my stomach was so full or until I passed a bowel movement. After the guilt and shame would wear on me I’d starve myself for days up to two weeks at a time only consuming water and piece of toast as punishment.
I did this for until I was 17 and pregnant with my first child.
Psychologically I felt like I was controlling my food narrative. People couldn’t judge what they couldn’t see. I was a good fattie, always walking, being active and not lazy. And even though my thyroid was already malfunctioning at that age and what I now know was hyperthyroidism and hypothryoidism fluctuations were occurring; I thought I was in control, but I wasn’t.
The binging stopped but that only morphed into emotional eating 100%. My bouts with depression would often dictate whether I ate at all or ate too much. I used not eating as a means to punish myself for whatever bad decision I had made and would reward myself with food when I was celebrating something.
Eventually though, food became a comfort for when I was feeling low. And I was no longer in control of choosing to starve and choosing to feed. Slowly but surely food just became a thing to consume whether I was happy or sad and if I was in between those feelings I might behave normally. Maybe.
I’m 33 years old and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve really assessed my history with my eating habits. I understand a lot more about myself now than I ever did before and I feel like I am piecing together a puzzle. I’m currently at my highest weight and probably eating the healthiest that I ever have in my life; how ironic right?
That’s why when I talk about my journey with chronic illness, mental health and pursuit of a healthy lifestyle I refuse to focus on weight loss as the goal. I truly understand now that the most important thing is getting my mind right first so that my body can follow. And I understand that there are many who would disagree with that but that’s simply not my concern.
I never thought a day would come when I would openly talk about this because I feared what people might say. I am thankful that the moment has come where that is no longer my concern either.
Thank you for reading.