Rethink your relationship with food.
Over the past few years I have had a very mixed relationship with food.
There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who stress eat, and those who don’t. During my A-Levels, I would say that things were out of control. While I had a positive outlook on food and was never bothered by calories, this freedom went too far. I consumed copious amounts of food at one time and would find myself eating family sized portions on my own.
Then, once I started exercising and losing weight, I developed a very negative relationship with food; which escalated further into an eating disorder. At the time, I didn’t really realise that this negative relationship existed. I distinctly remember punishing myself, ON MY 18TH BIRTHDAY, because I ate more noodles at dinner than the person sitting next to me. But I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought I was a typical 18-year-old who stressed over what they ate. Then things started to deteriorated quickly until I realised that this was more than just a negative relationship with food.
However, since starting recovery things have gotten better. But that does not mean that my negative thoughts have gone away. I still have moments where I don’t believe I deserve food. Where I feel like I can’t eat anything without exercising. Where I feel guilty every time I eat something substantial or where society considers it unhealthy. I used to love food, but now I’ve learnt to fear it at the same time.
And while I still get consumed by the anorexic voices in my head, I am slowly learning to change my thoughts around food and to think of all positive reasons as to why I should and deserve to eat. However, when I’m having a bad day, I try to use these affirmations to put my head into a positive place:
1. Don’t count calories. Instead count experiences.
Your days should not be consumed by endless calorie counting. They should be spent counting your laughs, cries, conversations and activities. We need to learn to break the association between food and weight. Simply because food is more than that. Food is memories. Food is social. Food is experiences. Food is emotional.
2. Don’t compare
Everyone’s food needs are different. When eating with others, I still find myself mirroring what I eat with those around me. If someone leaves a potato, I have to do the same. If someone finishes their meal than its okay to as well. Obviously, this is a horrible anorexia habit that I have to learn to break. Because I know that my body needs more than the average girl my age. So it’s important to understand that YOUR food needs are different to your brother or mother. Their relationship with their food should mean nothing to you. Focus on yourself and what you want.
3. Understand that no food is bad food
This was one of the first things that my therapist ever said to me: ‘If you were trapped on an island and you had the choice between an orange and a burger, which one would you go for?’ I think the choice is pretty obvious and I hope that you picked the right one. Unless food is out of date or growing something that should not be, it is good food. Whether that is an orange, burger, donut or salad. Everything should be eaten in moderation and nothing restricted.
4. Don’t judge yourself.
You are not a bad person if you choose a pizza for lunch instead of a superfood bowl.
In no way shape or form should food affect who you think you are as a person. Do not feel that you should not have something just because your body craves it. If your body is hankering for something, have it! Honour and respect that. It wants something for a reason so why should you deny your body of anything? Would you deprive your child or a pet of food? No. So why do it to yourself?
5. Remember that you have one life. One Body.
You need food to live- so why restrict it? Would you restrict it of water? No. Then why would you restrict it of food? There is no difference. Your body does a hell of a lot for you therefore it needs the energy to do this. Without food you can’t do the things you really love to do. Whether that maintaining a job or having the energy to go on a night out with friends.
It’s also important to understand that when your feeding yourself, you are feeding your bones, your hair, your nails, your cells. Everything that makes you a person.
So, it truly saddens me when I hear people say ‘Oh no I shouldn’t have a chocolate bar’ or when I hear the saying (and I ABSOLUTELY hate this one and will snap at you if you ever say this) … ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.’ Ugh even writing that was a struggle.
But also, in no way am I implying that I think all these things. I am still on my recovery journey and I am still fighting to get better. Like everyone, I still have days where I think negatively about my body. I still feel the urge to go for a salad because that is seen as the ‘better’ option. But slowly, I am learning that life is more than food. Life should not be full of restrictions and rules. Eat what you want and live your life.