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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

It wasn’t even my birthday when my mom appeared in the kitchen, standing beside a colossal chocolate cake. She delicately sliced me a portion, and I observed as the frosting clung to the knife. I asked if I could savor a lick. I gently slid my tongue along the frigid metal handle, ensuring no accidental cuts. 

She placed my slice onto a plastic plate and handed me a spoon, yet I preferred to indulge in my cake with a fork. So, I ventured to retrieve one for myself. The cake consisted of three layers of decadent, moist chocolate adorned with a velvety buttercream frosting. I enthusiastically consumed every morsel, leaving a constellation of crumbs around my lips. And then, I woke up.

Here’s why an oversized chocolate cake made its way into my dreams: upon my return after spending four months studying abroad, I didn’t feel the most comfortable in my body. With my history of struggling with body image, I instinctively fell back into familiar patterns, the first of which was dessert restriction. When my family relished my mother’s homemade gooey cookie cake after dinner, or my dad had brought home my favorite cookies from Louis Swiss Bakery, I steered clear of the kitchen.

In the past, my fears didn’t revolve around spiders, snakes, or heights; instead, they were centered on something rather unexpected—bagels. Yes, you heard that right, bagels. These delicious rounds of dough were among my favorite foods, yet for years, I denied myself the simple pleasure of enjoying them. I had many other fear foods in my life.

The more I restricted myself, the more my thoughts began to overpower me. The more I fixated on dessert and denied myself indulgence, the more desserts began to infiltrate my dreams. My journey toward healing my relationship with food has imparted invaluable lessons.

So, after months abroad, I decided to revisit the basics to find my way back to a healthier relationship with food. I cast my mind back to my childhood when I approached eating with mindfulness. I would listen to my body, eating when hunger called and stopping when I was satisfied. It required effort, but I knew I needed to reprogram my mind and recapture that childlike approach to eating.

Restriction, in my experience, inevitably paves the way for binge-eating. Instead, I’ve learned to savor and indulge consciously. I’ve embraced listening to what my body really craves. Whether it’s a chocolate chip cookie or any other treat, I relish each bite, mindful that it’s not my last. I can have another tomorrow or whenever the craving arises, knowing that this newfound balance is a sustainable path to a healthier mindset towards food. 

Disordered eating comes in waves and you must be patient with yourself. The journey was about learning to love the body I inhabit, caring for it, and infusing it with love through my thoughts, words, and the foods I consume. The fundamental lesson I embraced, perhaps the most vital of all, was to eat out of love rather than fear.

Taylor Gurtman

CU Boulder '24

Taylor is a senior at CU Boulder and is majoring in journalism. Besides writing articles, Taylor enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts, and laughing with her friends.