Everybody has a story and there is something to be learned in every experience. Use your life as a class.
This year I get to celebrate 5 years without an eating disorder. I cycled through Binge Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, and Bulimia Nervosa from the time I was in sixth grade until sophomore year of college. Yeah, I was practically a baby when it all began. I had started dieting, like a lot of other girls I went to school with at the time, only I took it a step too far.
Dieting became an absolute obsession. I ended up falling down a dark rabbit hole of practicing awful eating habits to stay thin. For years, I was constantly striving to lose ‘just one more pound’ and telling myself ‘I’ll be happy when I weigh [x]’
I tried hiding my problem from my friends and family by labeling myself as health conscious. Your girl was actually claiming to care about her cholesterol at the age of 14. Like, what? I thought it was fine to eat irregularly if I claimed it was a diet or for my health. Plus, everyone else seemed to be doing it so what was the big deal, right? Wrong.
This is where my disapproval for dieting comes from. I think many fad diets are normalized forms of disordered eating that can cause eating disorder tendencies for those at risk. So personally, I can’t get behind Keto, Whole 30, the Pegan Diet or mainly any other food craze. Unless it’s doctor recommend, of course.
My dismay for diets comes up fairly often in conversations. Problems of being a girl. Rarely do I reveal the truths about why I don’t diet. To keep things simple, I usually just say I think diets are short sighted. Once you stop with the food rules and start eating regularly again, your body will most likely bounce back to its original state. If I’m striving to look a certain way or feel a certain way, I want it to be realistic and truly attainable. Not fleeting and temporary.
Although that tends to be true of many fad diets, that isn’t why I don’t like them. It’s what I’ve had to remind myself so I don’t fall into a trap that will lead me down an old path. It’s an explanation I keep archived in my mind anytime a tabloid magazine in line at a grocery store or a post on Facebook tries to tell me I need to be thinner.
When I finally decided to get healthy over five years ago, doctor after doctor told me the same exact thing: There is no cure for eating disorders. It’s not like a cold that once you take the right vitamins and meds, you’re symptom free. It really all comes down to hard work and a lifelong commitment to staying healthy. My archived explanation of why diets don’t work for me is part of that commitment.
I had to learn the hard way that living without an eating disorder means figuring out how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. It’s building self confidence, facing demons, and figuring out why you abuse food to cope. What does the food represent? Fear? Self worth? Trauma? Love? It’s asking yourself those very hard questions. It’s unlearning very addicting habits and establishing a new relationship with food. It’s navigating all these tricky things so that when faced with “triggers” you don’t relapse into old ways.
I found out that fad diets aren’t just one of my triggers, they actually put many people at risk for debilitating eating disorders.
After learning about the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder, I cannot even begin to count the amount of times I’ve watched someone I care about start falling down the same slippery slope I did. All because of obsessive dieting. And I’m living proof there’s nothing you can do for a person who doesn’t want to admit they have a problem. Besides wait with hope in your heart that they come out of the dark.
I’m so happy to say I have been a helping hand for a number of people since I went into recovery. That’s probably the biggest reward that’s come of it all. Second being able to eat a burger with cheese, bacon, bbq sauce, and onion rings without hating myself. An article about my heart health will be the next thing popping up on your timeline.
For those who don’t know, the initial reason I started blogging years ago, first on Instagram and then on my blog, was because of my health battles. I started my platform to create a community where it was okay to embrace everything about ourselves, even what some consider shameful. I felt like I couldn’t talk about my issues to those around me at the time, but when I wrote online I had a small amount of supporters. Being accepted through blogging made me feel a lot less broken.
Although intimidated and uncomfortable about it, I made the choice to continually open about my experiences in hopes to connect with more people. Over five years, and I cannot count how many people have privately reached out to me asking for guidance, advice, or even a reality check. That’s truly what I’m celebrating, that my path to wellness has ignited hope in others.
You never know how much you have in common with someone until you let yourself be vulnerable. If someone tries to silence your vulnerability, it’s only because they aren’t ready to be uncomfortable about their own struggles. They’ll come around one day.
We’re at a point in time where there is no reason to be ashamed of our baggage. No one is impressed with perfection anymore. Social media has helped make it very clear that we’ve all been through some shit. Making us very tired of inauthenticity. If you can take what has happened to you and turn it into something positive, that’s something worth being admired. That’s what the world needs to hear more about.
The life you’re experiencing right now doesn’t have to be your life forever. If you ever need someone to help convince you of that, I am your girl. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and in need of help, I highly recommend calling the National Eating Disorder Helpline at (800) 931-2237. The NEDA Helpline is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 9AM to 5PM ET. Contact the Helpline for support, resources, and treatment options for yourself or a loved one.