As it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week February 21 – 27, I wanted to take the time to share my recovery story with you in hopes that it will provide at least one person with hope and courage that recovery is possible. This is part 4 of my recovery story series, read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.
In yesterday’s post (part 3), I left off at a point in my story where I was at a peak of frustration, but also at a peak of fear, confusion, and loneliness. I felt scared to let go of the food rules I was following, confused as to whether I should or not, and lonely because I felt as though no one understood how I could possibly forget how to eat.
Here is a excerpt from a blog post I wrote on my old blog documenting my feelings at this very moment:
“This is my weigh scale. But, really, it’s not only my weigh scale. It’s my best friend in the kitchen. As embarrassing as that is to say, it’s true. And I hate that. I hate turning it on, hearing it beep, and weighing my chicken, fish, sweet potato, etc. just to make sure I am “getting what I need.” But really, what do I need? Do I really need to be weighing my food to make sure I am getting enough ounces of chicken breast for each meal? Or do I need to start listening to my body? I feel like I want to start listening to my body, but I haven’t in such a long time so there is a lot of fear when I think about letting go of my scale and just “eating” by listening to my hunger cues. It sounds silly, but I don’t know how to just eat. Yes, hearing myself say that out loud and seeing those words typed out on to the screen in front of me is absolutely bizarre, but I need to be honest with myself. I do not know how to go through a single day and eat without following a plan.“
As you can sense from this quote from the blog post I wrote back in February 2013, I was in a lot of pain and experiencing an intense amount of fear, but it was because those feelings were so strong, that I was able to let go.
I believe that if you fear something and never learn to let go and hold onto it instead, you will always have that fear within you. Thankfully, I pushed myself through the fear, experienced it, let go, and came out on the other side.
My first step was to let go of what no longer served me. For me, this included weighing my food on a weigh scale, measuring my food in measuring cups and spoons, using apps such as My Fitness Pal, and ensuring I ate 6 meals every single day – watching the clock drove me crazy.
From there, I began to learn about intuitive eating for the first time in my life. This process allowed me to relearn my hunger cues, understand my body, and remove any sort of rule I had about food, whether that meant thinking I had to eat 6 meals a day or thinking each meal I ate had to be a perfect balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. I was at a point in my life where I just had to let go of it all.
Throughout this time, I learnt so much about myself and finally what it felt like to be free. Free from stress, free from any lingering disordered eating tendency I held on to, and free in my body. I actually trusted my body for the first time in years and it felt surreal.
One of the most important things I let go of at this time was the goal to gain weight. As I mentioned before, this goal was stressing me out and preventing me from living my life to the fullest, so I just had to let go. And you know what? I didn’t lose weight. I actually started to gain weight.
My hunger cues started to come back because I was allowing myself to recognize them. I remember going out for all you can eat ribs 2 times in a single week and ate 2.5 racks myself each time. I was hungry and not scared to honour my hunger cues because a meal plan no longer held me back. All you can eat sushi was another favourite of mine.
The final pieces of my healing really started to take place when I began studying at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN). At this point, I was confident in listening to and honouring my body, but CSNN opened my eyes to a whole new world – understanding how a body is supposed to feel and function at its best. I began to understand that the digestive issues I was experiencing were not normal and food could be used as medicine in order to resolve these issues. So, I began to experiment with my food choices in a very loving, non judgemental, and non restrictive way.
I had a curious mindset and wanted to understand which foods allowed me to feel and function my best. It was at this time I also came across the paleo diet and the Whole 30. I began eating foods such as butter, bacon, full fat beef, and other fatty cuts of meat, coconut oil, and 3 – 4 whole eggs at a single meal on a regular basis, all foods that I was under the impression weren’t “health promoting” as we were taught to choose “low fat” options and avoid saturated fats when I studied dietetics in university.
In February 2014, exactly a year after embarking on my intuitive eating journey, I did my first Whole 30 to finally discover which foods were and were not working for me. The Whole 30 allowed me to achieve ultimate freedom when it came to my food choices. My severe constipation finally came to an end, my sleep improved, and my skin cleared up. I was finally putting the words “food as medicine” into practice in my own life.
I completed the natural nutrition program at CSNN in the summer of 2015 and graduated as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) in November 2015. Today, it is February 2016 and I can confidently say that I have been fully recovered from an eating disorder and any lingering eating disorder habits for a full 3 years. When I decided to let go of everything and simply focus on my health and happiness back in February of 2013, it was my final goodbye to the eating disorder that almost took my life away from me too many times.
Today, I can wake up and not think about the eating disorder that once ruled my life. I am, however, often reminded of it because I now specialize in eating disorder recovery as an RHN. But when I am reminded, I take a moment to smile and fill up with the pride I have for myself for overcoming such a life threatening illness.
Today, I understand my body and honour it. Today, I listen to my body without judgement. Today, I choose to nourish my body without following a certain set of rules. Today, I know what balance is and live a balanced life, free from extremes. Today, I am nourished and I am free.