When talking with someone who has a disordered relationship with food, one of the first things that stands out to me is time. How so much time is spent planning meals, cooking meals, thinking about the next meal, worrying about eating the right meal, etc. When in this mindset, most think that it isn’t a big deal. But once you’re on the other side, you’ll realize that it was.
One of the best ways I know how to explain this point is with PB2, aka powdered peanut butter. Powdered peanut butter is essentially peanut butter with the fat removed, then formed into a powder. You mix it with water to form a peanut butter-like consistency.
Once you’ve eaten it for awhile, your taste buds tend to adapt and it tastes relatively palatable. You start to forget what real peanut butter tastes like. It becomes the new normal. It’s not a great normal, but it’ll do. When you eventually switch back to real peanut butter, however, you realize that PB2 and real PB aren’t even be in the same category. They taste totally different. Real peanut butter is like this wonderfully different, creamy and delicious new world. It’s not fake. It’s real and awesome.
The same thing happens with dieting. When you’re deeply inundated into diet culture, you think that worrying about food and your body size isn’t all that damaging. Everyone does it, right? You’re not completely thriving, but you’re still able to get by in life. However, as soon as you start trusting your body and focus on living a full life (rather than what’s on your plate), you realize that food and your body size are not all that interesting. Your brain space is free to think about things that actually matter.
Getting to this place, however, is hard. When everyone else seems to be focusing on food and their body size, it’s hard to move away from that.
A big first step in getting to a place of food freedom and body acceptance, however, is being cognizant of what is actually going on. How many hours do you spend meal prepping on the weekend? How much time do you spend researching ways to make your recipes more “healthy”? Do you spend much time weighing/measuring/tracking your food and exercise? Do you get distracted from work because you’re worried about the size of your thighs? How many outfits do you have to try on in the morning, before finding something you feel thin/comfortable in?
Probably a lot! Our culture tells us that this is normal, but I think it’s a big waste of life.
When these thoughts come up, it’s important to replace them with more life-giving thoughts. For example, say you go out to dinner and just ordered a meal that might be a bit scary for you. Disordered, restrictive thoughts may come up. Rather than letting those thoughts dominating the evening, you have the power to change them! Make the conscious choice to say – These are disordered thoughts. They are not enhancing the quality of my life. They are causing me to miss out on an enjoyable experience. Then, you replace those disordered thoughts with more positive ones. Things like – I want to enjoy this experience with friends/family, or, This meal makes my taste buds so happy, I want to enjoy it, or, I’m nourishing my body and mind with meaningful conversation and relationships. This allows you to focus on what actually matters in life. Food doesn’t matter so much. Your life does!
What has your disordered eating caused you to miss out on in life? What do you want to take back?