So today we’re getting real deep (yuck) – I know, I don’t want to share this but there’s something thats really pulling me to share this. Never once would I have thought I would be writing about this topic. Writing out the title make me super uncomfy but the fact that it’s making me feel this way reassured me even more that it needs to be shared. Another reason I never thought I would write about this topic is because I genuinely never thought I had any issues relating to food, which is the scariest part.
From the moment I was 16 there was a time of the year I couldn’t wait for and it was the Victoria Secret Fashion Show. I would watch them on my BLACKBERRY TABLET. Take that in, that’s how young I was, literally using a blackberry tablet. These women were the epitome of beauty in my eyes. Like Candice Swanepoel was my screensaver on my iPod touch. I forever wanted to be an angel, that was my definition of perfection. From the time I was in high school, similar to many teen girls who have a cosmo addiction (the magazine, not the drink obvi) I think it’s safe to say that the majority of girls dabbled in the “not eating” thing. I would basically wake up and not eat anything until supper time, it was weird it’s like I wanted someone to notice that I wasn’t eating? It sounds so twisted but looking back now it was just a cry for attention. Again, I never thought this was out of the ordinary. I was embarrassed about how much I could eat as a kid, I remember a few comments from people about it, eating too much turned into shame for me. I never once clued in to the fact that a 14 year old girl is also going through so many changes and needs so much food? Like hello.
This picture was taken in my grade 10 year in high school. I’ve always been into health and fitness since I can remember – I played every sport growing up: hockey, ringette, soccer, volleyball, even softball for a bit (don’t judge) so eating healthy came very naturally to me, I also genuinely enjoyed it, I was the kid in my family that loved onions at the age of 7. In 2016 I officially moved out of residence at my university and I finally got to buy my own groceries which I was soooo excited about. But it was basically a lot of produce because I wasn’t that great of a cook, even being at meal hall I never allowed myself to have a piece of pizza in the 4 years I was there (there may have been 1 time when I was drunk but you get my point) , if I had pizza it was the “make your own” on a whole wheat pita with goat cheese (just not the same) and I think that’s why when I would drink I would just let go of all control and absolutely binge. It wasn’t every weekend but like 2-3 times a month I would get drunk and run off alone, I would get a pizza or MacDonalds (maybe even both lmao) and hide in my room and eat it all alone. I would always lock my door and if I didn’t have a lock I would literally hide the box under my bed. The moment I would finish I would absolutely hate myself, getting rid of all ‘evidence’ there was, hoping no one would know that I just ate the whole thing by myself. And no, I never threw anything up, there’s been a couple times where I tried but the action of throwing up has always scared the shit out of me so it just never worked. I had this image I thought I needed to uphold, someone whose actually into health and fitness would never eat like this, all these feelings of shame came flooding back – it was so secretive and so lonely. No one ever knew I did these thing either. This is the first time I’ve ever opened up about it too, so you could say I’m feeling a bit weird right now. The following week I would make sure I went to the gym – using it as a form of punishment basically which meant loads of cardio followed by 0 carbs. It was confusing to me though, because I loved eating healthy and working out, they genuinely made me feel better but it was the reasons I was going to the gym and eating healthy that makes me go “ooooohhhhh okay”. It was always for the approval of other people and never for myself. Looking back now, I have no idea how I managed to find the energy to live the life of going out 2-3 times a week, studying, hanging out with friends, maintaining a relationship. The stamina of a 21 year old will forever blow my mind, we are machines at that age.
In the moment, I never saw this as an issue – everyone would drunk eat and everyone would complain about it the next day but I always felt like I couldn’t do it in front of people, it’s like I wanted so badly for people to see me as perfect that I wouldn’t even want to eat badly in front of them. I had this idea of perfection in my head since I could remember (that Victoria Secret model, damn you Candice!!!) and they would never do that so I can’t. After leaving university it stopped, but I still found myself feeling like the only time I could really binge on shit food was when I was alone, like the only time I can eat this way is if I’m alone and no one saw me do it. It wasn’t until I moved into my apartment alone where I started questioning this, it would be Friday/Saturday night and I would be all alone and because no one’s around I felt like I could binge on junk food to the point I felt sick. I started looking at the way I snacked, I would stand with the fridge door open eating, instead of taking food out, putting it on a plate. It was always as if I had to be in a rush before someone saw me.
I’m writing about this because I never once thought of this as disordered eating, I never once thought I had a problem until I grew into a place where I was comfortable enough with myself to question these things. It’s important to realize that “disordered eating” can come in literally any way, shape or form. I started meditating and journaling about my habits and the way I would react to situations like “why did this persons response make me upset?” or “Why is this triggering me to get angry?”, etc. and taking more time for myself, I started to look at all my habits without judgment and ask myself – “why?”, what is the root of this issue? Instead of beating myself up for days on end like I used to, I started just getting curious – why am I doing these things? What type of feeling am I chasing? What’s triggering this? It was never about the food, it was the fact I felt comfort in it, the fact that I can still eat all of this crap and people will never know. It was the control of the situation that I loved, the fact that I was the only person who knew what just happened.
It’s taking a lot for me to share this post, I just feel super cringey lol. With social media and the internet I honestly think it’s really rare for people to have a healthy relationship with food. There’s so much out there telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing, when you should eat this and not this, it’s overwhelming and I get it – my friends and I used to go on crazy fad diets where we would eat all fruit one day, only vegetables the next, then only tomatoes and protein (?) for 7 days and be straight up miserable. But then again the internet is just the internet until you label it good or bad, so it really is up to you and what kind of “online ecosystem” you want to live in.
When you’re 21 and the only concern in life you have is what you wanna drink on the weekend, you’re trying so hard to please other people (at least I was) basically you’re going to the gym to make sure you look good for all the guys and gals that will be out at the bar the following weekend so maybe you can go home with this person or that person, or you wanna get X amount of likes on your instagram so your ex will see it and be jealous, like I GET IT. It’s saddening but also a tad hilarious to look back on now, everything was always for other people never for myself.
If you’re questioning your relationship with food, no matter what the circumstances, start looking at your habits. Do you eat mindlessly with the fridge door open? Do you eat things out of the package or put them on a plate? Do you turn to food when you’re feeling unsafe, insecure? These are all small signs that there’s some type of emotional attachment to food. It’s time to get curious about it with 0 judgment. I strongly suggest grabbing a journal and free writing about it right now. I didn’t even know this issue existed up until around 3 months ago, I thought it was just the ‘norm’.
To end things off, this has been my experience and my perspective only. I’m sharing exactly my thoughts and feelings toward the situation so do with them as you please and remember, my experience is not yours. You could have an amazing relationship with food and have great habits engrained into your brain or you could be struggling deep down and unsure of what steps to take. So if you’re still reading this be gentle with yourself, you’ve got this.