If you have checked out my about page, you already know that I struggled with a life-threatening eating disorder as a young adult (got to ride in a wheelchair and all). Today, I am fully recovered from distorted eating, though I still have a special relationship with food (shhh! I LOVE IT!!), yet there are times when I obsess over my body image and naturally aging self. Usually times when I feel things are slipping “out of control”.
The holidays hold a unique place in my heart when it comes to my eating disorder. I always loved the holidays – it’s still my favorite time of year. But the anxiety I felt surrounding holiday food, when living with an active eating disorder was super unhealthy and at times, debilitating.
I had a lot of anxiety surrounding holiday gatherings, and especially holiday meals. I would often binge on dessert. Sweets were always tough for me to eat “like a normal person”. I love them so much, but they were “bad” in my mind.
By looking at me, you would never know that I had an eating disorder.
As a kid, it was a given that I wanted to help in the kitchen. I also looked forward to devouring my share of every dish on the holiday menu. During those years I did so without guilt. I celebrated food as a child! Food was, and still is, a huge part of our family. We plan our schedules around our meals – no joke.
However, as I entered adolescence, things changed. Food became the enemy and the holidays were filled with anxiety, shame and secrecy. No longer was I able to enjoy the sweet, fluffy texture of my mom’s homemade pumpkin pie or my grandma’s baked mashed potatoes. Nor was I able to enjoy the company.
I was locked up in a secret world inside of my head. A world that told me pumpkin pie was bad and so were mashed potatoes; and that I did not deserve to enjoy these things. I must restrict.
I had an eating disorder.
I can recall an instance at a family Christmas party where I binged on Frango mints. You know those tasty little candies you can pick up from Marshall Fields (Macy’s)? After having a few helpings of pie, I proceeded to eat a small bite out of, say, five to six Frango mints, had an anxiety attack and locked myself in the bathroom to purge. Those six to seven years suffering with my eating and body image were pure hell.
The holidays just highlighted the fact that something was wrong with me and I couldn’t shake it on my own. Food is not meant to be the enemy. It is meant to be celebrated.
Today, I feel much different about food and holiday gatherings! I am not only capable of being present at the holiday dinner table, but I feel freedom and peace surrounding food. I am not ashamed to pitch in with the meal and I definitely have no qualms with indulging this joyous time of year.
So what changed?
My intensive five+ year recovery process from Anorexia and Bulimia, which included a therapist AND dietician AND support groups AND sharing my personal story with others. I am also finally listening to my body.
I don’t overeat to the point of suffocation and I don’t eat foods that cause me discomfort or anxiety. I eat what makes me feel good inside and do things I love.
I also finally stopped being silent. I show up for my life today. I’m so worth it.
Here’s to a healthy body, happy thoughts and a joyous holiday season with loved ones! For more information on eating disorder awareness please check out some of the articles below and feel free to send me a private message. I am fully recovered and act as a confidential resource for those who struggle with body image, poor self-esteem and eating issues.