January 1, 2014

grateful for my eating disorder

the holidays are over.
it's the new year.
back to the daily grind.
.....that sounds so sad!

i hope your celebrations were wonderful and full of joy!

this post had a difficult time coming together the way i wanted, but this morning my sister shared a link on facebook and it was the missing key!
this is a topic i feel extremely passionate about:

healthy food relationships.

for me, this holiday was different than any other year.
not because i was away from parents, siblings, and the most adorable niece ever.

3-yr coin received at e.d.a.
this holiday is the first i can consciously remember where food was not my primary focus.
though i've been active in recovery for three and a half years, it definitely has not been perfect.

back in 2010 i received a one year token in e.d.a. {eating disorders anonymous}, then promptly "fell off the wagon" in big ways and had to start over.
it's interesting to read that post because i still had not uncovered all the contributing factors and memories explaining why i initially felt the need to use food to fill the emotional void created when i was a young child.

it took me a long time to accept recovery because, especially when it's a new experience, triggers could be found lurking anywhere at any time.
however, now i know the reasons i went looking for such horrible coping techniques and it has become much easier to refrain from those behaviors.

say "no" to unhealthy food relationships!

for most of my life, though, everything revolved around what food i would eat, what i wouldn't eat, what i shouldn't eat, how to cope with food, and how to live with myself when i went against my "food belief system."

it became very evident to me how much substantial change i had accomplished within just this past year because past triggers no longer affect me the way they used to.
now i have many positive coping skills -- growth has been difficult to achieve, but i'm starting to reap the benefits.

i believe in healthy relationships with food yet am surrounded by a world that doesn't fully understand how devastating their unhealthy food beliefs can be; what they can lead to.

reading this fabulous "letter to mum" article helped me figure out the worst part of the holidays this year:
other people.

now don't get me wrong, i love people and spending time with them.
i say "other people" because i didn't realize how prominently unhealthy relationships with food dominate and pervade societal norms these days.

the fact that i didn't realize this until now probably sounds so very selfish.
and i guess i have been quite self-absorbed when it comes to healthy food habits.

i have only recently popped my head out of the sand to see what's going on in the world around me.
previously, i believed i was one in a minority who struggled so strongly with healthy food habits and thoughts.
this is not so.

i found that an absurd amount of people, especially {but not limited to} the female population, are obsessed with food thoughts and negative body image almost as much as i used to be when i was active in my eating disorder.

i truly can't think of the last time i was around food without hearing at least one person say, "oh goodness, i shouldn't be eating this - but it's just too yummy" or "i am going to get so fat."

has our culture simply created more health-conscious people?

i don't think that's it!
health is certainly an important subject and one dear to my heart!
however, it seems that our culture is steeped in the belief that only thin people "deserve" to eat unhealthy things. no normal person should be eating any sweets or "holiday foods" because they make people fat and "that would be the worst thing in the world."

guess what?!
being fat isn't the problem.
believing it is makes us extremely susceptible to negative body image.

our negative body issues and unhealthy food relationships have led to "fat-shaming."
what's the deal!?! have we not yet understood that hating our bodies leads to even worse relationships with food, not better?

one of my older sisters served a mormon mission in south africa.
{the same sister who the awesome article today that i'll show you in a second}
one of the ladies she worked with in africa told her that, as women, we are constantly in the process of gaining or losing weight.

this novel idea provoked understanding that until we can love our bodies exactly how they are at any given time, we will be in a battle of wills with our body.

found here -- good article fighting 'fat talk'
i apologize for the language in this image... still, it depicts perfectly the battle of wills i'm talking about.

maybe it's that i've fought with food, weight, and body image for about two decades?
maybe it's that being forced off my acid reflux medicine for a week and a half at the beginning of december gave me a renewed love for the ability to eat without feeling horrendously ill?

whatever the reason, i'm grateful.
because of my experiences i have renewed passion for being over and done with food obsessions.

the song i want to share today comes from my very favorite Christmas present:

my eating disorder and related issues have made me a better persongoing through adversity can make you stronger; a warrior.
especially because i know what healthy is and i know what it is not.

now...do i absolutely love my body right now?
haha no.... i would love to lose weight. but for the first time in my life i am holding to the desire to be emotionally healthy over being thin.

going off all four of my medicines at once created a perfect opportunity for me to understand how much damage i have done to my body over the span of the last couple decades. it's amazing to see how my body reacts to the stress i've put it through. i feel so grateful to God that my body is able to function as well as it does considering all that i've put it through.

i'm not going to hate on it anymore.

i am grateful for my eating disorder because of the lessons it taught me and the gratitude it created in me for my body, however imperfect it may look or seem to others.

i'm grateful for my eating disorder because i have a healthier view of food and body image than most people i know. .....that seems insane! but it's true!

great article: what is normal eating?
best quote from it {originally from ellyn satter}:
“normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. it is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should. normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. it is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. and it can be under-eating at times and wishing you had more. normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. in short, normal eating is flexible. it varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”
ahh! this is so fabulous!!!
that right there is the ideal! this is what healthy looks like!

health must be the focus now = normal eating. the "should's" and the "should not's" are unimportant!
i want to make sure my relationship with food is healthy so that i can positively influence others rather than adding to the barrage of crazy food issues already out there.

the article shared by my sister today:
if i ever have the chance to create a family, i want to make sure my habits and mindset are healthy so i don't influence negative body image or self-hatred.

sooooo important!!

other great articles to read on the subject:

i'll get off my pedestal :)