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I was 16 years old when I developed an eating disorder.
It started with small behaviors. Disliking and speaking badly about parts of my body, or being too hard on myself.
The more I listened to this little voice inside my head, the more it grew into a big, mean, and scary voice of self-loathing.
All I wanted was to be accepted. To be loved. To feel comfortable and at peace with myself. But that wasn’t my reality. My emotions began to slowly destroy my relationship with food. I started to use food as punishment, as a void filler, as a coping mechanism for my own despair.
A few months later, I remember seeing the worried look on my mother’s and father’s faces. And I can remember the night we sat down to discuss the possibility of seeking professional help. I felt deep shame for what I was doing to myself, but I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how.
I was refusing to eat then bingeing on unhealthy foods in my bedroom late at night, which I knew that I could hide. I knew that nobody would see me. It appeared to everyone else that I didn’t eat, but all my calories were consumed in secret. I had the thought that I could lose weight by myself, but the more I tried to be on a diet and restrict my eating, the more my bingeing intensified.
Depression and weight gain followed. My mental health declined rapidly. I stopped socializing with friends because I felt ashamed of myself and unworthy of love. Even though deep down, I needed it. I couldn’t admit that I was struggling and failing.
I began going to a dietitian who put me on a 1,200 calories per day diet for the following two years.
I was so determined to be thin that at that point I did exactly what she told me to do—not realizing the vicious cycle I was entering. With this new diet, I found myself fearing the scale. Developing food anxiety. Every day, I felt drained by the constant calorie counting.
Just as I had finally surrendered to the idea of living in this prison, I looked in the mirror and saw the reality of what I had done to myself. I saw a young girl. A daughter, a sister, a friend. I saw myself underweight and malnourished. A victim who followed a path of restriction, constant yo-yo dieting, extreme workouts, and so much abuse to my body. I realized that I had pursued self-hate instead of self-love.
Right in that moment, I shifted my mindset. I promised myself that I would respect, nurture, and love my body moving forward.
The change that we want to achieve in our life begins with a thought. One thought. Then we create a plan to achieve and develop it, with deep curiosity and care.
Here is what I would like everyone to remember: when we begin to move from a point of self-love, we will notice a change in our relationships with others, ourselves, and the food we nourish ourselves with.
We begin to free ourselves from that which intoxicates our day-to-day lives, whether they’re thoughts, behaviors, or people. We begin to feel lighter when we move away from these relationships, patterns, and foods that “absorb” us, as they do not contribute to our well-being.
Food is energy. It impacts our gut, mood, and ultimately, our vibration. If we eat low-energy foods, or we eat food feeling shameful or restrictive, it will lower our own vibration and may impact our mood. We will feel frustrated, irritated, or just out of sorts. If we eat high-energy foods with love and intention, it will boost our mood, energy, and our rest.
Releasing the idea of the perfect body and shifting our self-worth from how we look outside to how we look inside is the ultimate key to healing our relationship with food.
What I realized through my own journey is that reaching a healthy weight is a by-product of the internal work that we do.
It is never too late to shift to self-love.