During my time of feeling completely crazy around food, I’ve done a lot of thinking trying to boil down what I’ve learned to a manageable handful of key messages.
Here’s what I feel are my most important and key learnings so far:
1. Your body is NOT your ‘whole self’
It took me a while to realise that my exterior or ‘physical’ body is not the whole ‘me’. In other words there is a whole lot more to who I am than how I look on the outside. The day I consciously took a step back from the belief that who I was, was attributed to how I looked was the day I was able to truly start to explore that there was A TON more to who I was. Importantly it gave me the freedom and the headspace to go on and discover what else there was to me – strengths, passions, interests, purpose, values, beliefs. Liberating.
To do this I needed to prioritise my sanity over thin which you can read more about here.
2. There are no bad foods. Food is just food.
The fact of the matter is that food is just food and the day you can accept your body and your food as it is – no matter what- is when you’ll be free. When you decide that what you eat has no bearing on who you are as a person (meaning what you eat doesn’t determine how you should feel or get to feel about yourself) or when you decide that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you because of what you eat/ate, is when you can stop torturing yourself…. because you are able to render food as powerless over you.
3. Health is possible at any size.
It took me a long time to break down my objective that ‘health was only possible at a certain size’ (namely when thin). For a long time I believed (and was made to believe) that health looked a certain way…. And when this perceived version of healthy wasn’t the body that was naturally mine- wasn’t a weight that was natural and effortless for me- that was when I did everything in my power to inflict this ‘healthy’ body upon myself. That was the start of the time in my life where I experienced what it was to be unhealthy (ironically when trying to achieve ‘health’ and wellness).
When I realised that health involves more than just your physical self and encompasses spiritual, emotional and your mental health, was the day I was able to start to free myself from ‘food prison’.
4. What you eat is irrelevant — how you eat is far more important.
I’ve written a lot about what it feels and looks like to be a ‘normal’ eater, which has more to do with how you feel about yourself when eating than what you actually eat. See here and here. What set me free was opening my mind up to the fact that I could have a life outside of food and that I could cope with my problems outside of turning to food. Essentially I also decided to prioritise my sanity over my being ‘thin’ which meant that I needed to start working on food being no big deal.
5. Body acceptance underpins almost all of it.
A ton of the work I do with clients has to do with body image issues in ‘disguise’. Because I know that when you believe that your body dictates who you are as a person that you can not help but end up crazy around food. It’s when the control to be ‘perfect’ creeps in because you’re placing all of your self worth onto how you look and how others perceive you (which is a bloody tough gig)…. Which is when you count calories, obsess about everything that passes through your lips, when you restrict, google paleo after paleo recipe, jump from label to label and end up feeling like nothing you at is every ‘good’ enough.
The day you can stand up for the fact that you’re worth more than your weight is the day things start to change. Dramatically.
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