I could say that I have it all together now and that somehow it doesn’t scare me anymore or that the anxiety that crawls into the back of my mind has stopped, but deep in the bottom of my heart I know that I would be lying to myself, and to you. I could say that I am able to eat two or three meals a day and not think about my weight or wonder if anyone is around watching but God knows that lying is never going to help me get anywhere. Most people would say that food is something to be enjoyed and that going out to get dinner with their friends or family is amazing, but for people like me food has always been a touchy subject and going out to get dinner with friends or family is utterly terrifying. Ever since I was little, food has been an issue for me; I barely ate in the school cafeteria because the food was gross, and so I turned to my only other option (reminding you I was around 5 or 6), cereal. I ate cereal consistently night and day and over time the cereal began to have its effects, I became an overweight little kid and I absolutely hated myself for it. Apparently, I wasn’t the only who hated me for being an overweight kid. Soon after, this was in the first grade, other kids began to notice. My weight, among a series of unfortunate events, became the conversation of many people for 14 of the 18 years that I have been alive. It wrecked me.
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I became obsessed with my weight; I thought of food so much that it became one of the main reasons that drove me into an endless hole of depression. I wouldn’t eat at school and if I ate at home, you could find me shoving a toothbrush down my throat so I could get rid of the extra calories in my system. Because of my extra weight, I felt unattractive because all the guys I liked had feelings for girls who were skinnier or who had nice curves. I felt like I didn’t have any of these qualities and all the girls who I was friends with or who went to my school were just prettier than me. And because of this, I stopped eating. I dieted and I became obsessed with eating disorders. In my mind, the only way I would ever feel beautiful was if I looked like one of those girls who struggled with an eating disorder. I joined group chats, I researched, I loved every single bit of thinspo surrounding the internet because I hated the way that I looked. I reached a point in my life where I lost almost 40-50 pounds in a matter of two months because I couldn’t stand the idea of food, and I had never felt more disgusted with myself because the scale still said that I wasn’t under 100 pounds (I am 5’7). And all this time I wish someone would have said something to those girls but I also wish that little ole’ me felt beautiful in her own skin and that she accepted that this was the DNA that God had blessed her with and she recognized how much of a Goddess she was.
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Now yes, I am in a better place than I was, and I no longer view eating disorders as my happiness, but at the same time I struggle with the fact that I have to eat in front of others. And I struggle with the idea of my significant other seeing me naked and eating in front of him just because of my weight and yes, food is not an easy subject for me, but I know that one day it will be. And so I share these words of advice because especially around times likes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., food is hard because on one end everyone says eat, the extra pounds are okay but on the other it’s an internal battle that we survivors struggle with to eat any of the food that is put in front of us.
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1. Shift the Conversation
My first piece of advice is learning how to shift the conversation and communicating with the people around you. For example, if your Aunt Carol starts talking about how much weight she has lost doing her new keto diet, then shift the conversation by saying simple, reaffirming things like: “I used to have an outlook like that too but then I’m starting to learn how to change my relationship with food and how I view it, maybe you should try it too.” Or if your cousin Nico keeps making fun of your baby weight, then communicate and tell him that his negative actions are hurtful and ask him to stop.
2. Set Your Own Boundaries
Remember that you set your own boundaries and that even means when it comes to talking to others. If someone you know is always bring up your weight or making little digs about how much food you eat, then honey, you say “thank u, next.” But seriously, we have to listen to ourselves and learn to distance ourselves with people who constantly hurt us, no matter how long or how close they are to us. Sometimes, distancing or breaking things off with someone who has hurt us can shed some light and allow us to really feel everything that we need to in order to get help.
3. It’s Okay to Leave
Realize that things might not go as planned and there might come a point where you just have to pick up your things and leave. There will always be times where you feel those negative thoughts coming around, where you feel like throwing up, or where you feel backed up into a corner and that’s when you find your support system. This means calling a friend and letting them treat you to ice cream, walking the dog and spending some quality time with them, or just turning on some good music and going for a drive. Not everything in life will be in our favor but we have to realize that there are more roads than one on this journey.
4. It Will Get Better
My last piece of advice is to understand that the holidays can be hard but remembering that these times are once a year and every, single day will get better. Every experience is one we can learn from, we choose the outcome of these situations. And we have to let others know and take a chance and just be vulnerable. I know this isn’t easy. It’s okay to say that these are hard times and to ask for help or support because it will always be okay to do that.
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I would like to end this by saying I know what you’re going through and I know that everyday seems like a struggle but things will get better, you just have to hold on and hope. And that there will come a point where eating and seeing food doesn’t seem like torture and that working out or exercising isn’t something that you have to do but that you want to do. And finally that you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror naked and allow your significant other to look at you naked because you love yourself and you are perfectly happy with how you look and feel.
With extra love, remember that your weight, how much food you eat, and what people say about you will never define you because you are a forest and you will be burnt and cut down. But my darling, just watch how much you’ll grow back, no matter how they get to you.
If anyone you know or yourself is struggling with an eating disorder or eating/food in general; Please Call (800) 931-2237
from the heart,