Photo credit: Julia O Test Photography
*I am by no means a medical professional and these tips should not replace professional advice.
Seven years ago, I found myself in the darkest place of my (young) adult life. I was deeply depressed and insecure with who I was, so I controlled every bite of food in order to compensate.
Now, after a lot of self-work and therapy (!), I consider myself fully recovered and want to share some tips that may be helpful, regardless of where you are in your journey.
1. THERAPY. I cannot emphasize how helpful it was to seek professional advice. As someone who doesn't like asking for help from others, therapy seemed "too intense" and something that people with "real" mental illnesses needed, not me. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Therapy granted me a safe space to discuss all of my fears and thoughts around food, without holding back due to fear of judgement from friends or family. And if you think that you'll be able to solve things on your own, honestly ask yourself: has that been working for you so far?
2. SPEAK UP. I'll admit it: I'm a superficial betch. I care what people think of me, and I want to look good. For so many years, I suppressed my feelings and hid my struggles out of fear. I was afraid my friends would judge me, think I was weird. I was afraid my family wouldn't understand. The fears swirled around me like a tornado, sealing in my feelings and preventing me from sharing what was going on with those closest to me. This only made my issues with food worse: what you resist, persists.
When I finally broke my silence, it was like freakin' Niagra Falls had been let loose. I told my Mom, my Dad, my boyfriend. Every friend I had ever known. I even told the guy down the street who worked at my local coffee shop. "I'M STRUGGLING." And to my immense surprise, no one thought I was weird. In fact, it felt incredible. Finally, it wasn't a solo burden to bear.
3. FOODS ARE NOT GOOD OR BAD. For years, I was terrified of bread. I'd go to dinner, push the bread basket away from me and automatically order the healthiest thing on the menu, without thinking to myself "What is my body craving?" I'd end up physically full, but mentally empty and unsatisfied. Once I got home, I'd raid my cabinets, feeling snacky and looking for something to satisfy my seemingly insatiable appetite. "What's wrong with me?" I'd think. "I literally just ate dinner!"
Little did I know, my body was screaming out for satisfaction. Had I simply eaten the damn bread at dinner, I'd leave dinner feeling satisfied, not need to snack at home and honestly, probably eat less calories overall!
Once I allowed all foods, a magical thing happened: instead of thinking what should I eat, I began thinking: what is my body craving? There's so much more to eating than just "filling a void." We are social eaters, emotional eaters. Sometimes, a hunk of warm, crusty bread will fulfill you in ways a kale salad never will.