NEDA Week 2016

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As Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to an end, I am taking the last few hours of this day to think about how my life has changed ever since I entered recovery.

At age 17, I started dieting to lose weight. When the weight refused to come off I went to more extreme and unstable methods to drop the pounds. I would skip meals, cut out for groups, count calories and run for hours on end. I was scared to eat out, refused to eat sweets and choose salads for meals, only to return home later and binge.

At 20, I began purging and I started getting depressed. I did my best to maintain my grades – which I did – but I was slowly drowning. I’d wake promising myself I wouldn’t binge, but I’d fail. I hated the way my body looked and refused to dress in anything other than black. I hated taking pictures. I wanted to lose weight. I was scared of food.

At 21, I became suicidal. I knew I needed help, but I was afraid of telling my mother. At 21, you’re supposed to be young and free, living your life with adventures and milkshakes, laughing at your mistakes and falling in love and traveling with friends. You’re not supposed to be suicidal at 21.

At 22, I started going for therapy, saw a dietician and trying to turn my life around. My psychologist stayed with me for 1 year to help me work on my issues but unfortunately, my eating did not get any better.

At 23, I doubled up my efforts in recovering. I was going through heartbreak and in an effort to reinvent myself, I focused on becoming a better person. Instead of focusing on eating, I focused on mindfulness and discovered the meaning & importance of self-love.

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Every since then my eating has slowly improved. I immersed myself in the eating disorder recovery and body positive community for support and am slowly emerging from my self-created prison. I’m learning to reject the standards of beauty society has, surrounding myself with people who encourage and support me throughout my journey & working on embracing my body for what it is. I’m learning to define myself in more than just physical looks. I’m slowly finding my confidence, becoming the woman I want to be, becoming more experimental with my clothing and style to express myself because my low self-esteem and self-hatred prevented me from embracing my identity.

I’ve been recovering for 3 years now, and I am still recovering. I don’t know whether I will fully recover in the future and I’m scared to think that one day I will relapse, but I tell myself that no matter how hard it is I will keep going. I will try to embrace every bit of my body and imperfections because I do not ever wish to return to the girl I was 5 years ago. I’ve tasted freedom and I want it. Sure there are days when I choose to eat less because I felt bloated and disgusting, and yes there are days when I hate my body and want to curl under my blankets, and yes I have moments when I compare myself to other girls wishing I had her body and okay there are times when I choose to exercise because I wanted to lose weight to be skinnier. But that’s ok because no one said recovery was going to be easy.

I’m not perfect and all that matters at the end of the day is that I choose recovery over quitting. 

I’m not fully recovered, but everyday I do my best to be the best version I can be and do my best to stick to the habits that promote recovery instead of those that support my disorder because I am worth, and deserve to live a life free from an eating disorder. I am not meant to be dieting and starving and crying. Life is not meant try fitting into a small size, gain approval and validation from others, & comparing yourself to other people wishing you were taller, skinnier, leaner and/or prettier.

I don’t want to be spending the rest of my life worrying about whether or not I ate too much, whether I’m skinny enough and pretty enough, how much exercise I should do to burn off all those calories. Instead I am meant to spread my wings and fly to live my life, gain experiences, make the  mistakes I’m supposed to make in my 20s so I can look back and laugh til I cry, go on whirlwind adventures, fall in love, dance to my heart’s content, wear my favorite outfits without shame or embarrassment, watch sunsets, dance in the rain (yes I love doing that), watch cupcake tutorials without feeling guilt and eat exotic food.

I am not meant to be defined by my weight, my size or my physical appearance. I am more than that. Ever since embarking on recovery I have started defining myself by my strength, my loyalty, my determination, my sass, my passion and the love in my heart.

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To all those out there on the path of recovery – you are worth recovery. You deserve to live a fulfilled life and you deserve happiness. It will be challenging, it will be difficult, it will be effortful and it will be painful, but you will find strength from your struggles and you will realize that the person that emerges from the ashes is one who is awesome and who is powerful, and you will begin to wonder why you haven’t met him/her sooner, and you will want to continue seeing how much this person will grow and see who this person will finally become. 

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Choose recovery. Choose happiness. Choose acceptance. Choose self-love. Choose life. 

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eating disorders & the paradox of controlling our food

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There’s something involved in eating disorders that play an incredible important role in recovery, and also serves to intensify out eating disorder exaggerated – control.

When my eating disorder was a lot worse, I was trying to control just about everything. Calories in and calories out, food groups, amount of exercise, time to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack, fat and muscle percentages & weight I was trying to achieve. I was trying to pinpoint everything to to reaching that unachievable numeric goal. And the more I tried to control, the more my own intentions backfired me, making my eating disorder even worse and delaying recovery.

Why? Because I refused to surrender myself to my body’s needs. When I wanted rice I forced myself to eat brown bread instead. When I wanted white chocolate I forced myself to go guzzle a load of water. When I wanted curry I reluctantly chose clear soup. When I wanted cheesy pizza I unenthusiastically chose salad without dressing. Not just once, but as many times as I could.  I pretty much was denying my body what it needed and what it wanted.

Here’s the thing: when we enter a relationship with food with the aim of controlling the amount of food we put into our body, the (not-so) funny thing is that it ends up controlling us. When I was dieting and restricting my food I was in control, but when I binged, I felt like I had lost control of what I was doing. When we restrict ourselves so much to the point that our body rebels. We don’t make leeways for desserts, mistakes or one-off occasions. Everything must be followed according to the book and when we deviate from our rigid rules, we end up punishing ourselves.

We binge, because our body is starving. A binge is our body’s natural biological response to what we are doing to our body. 

And let’s be honest. For how long can we “control” ourselves? Do we want to control ourselves for the rest our lives, telling ourselves to choose option A over option B because option B might make you fat?

Your relationship to food is a reflection of your relationship with your life.  What is it in your life that you are trying to gain control or change that is making you restrict? A fear of loneliness that makes you binge to feel better? Trying to get a thin body & obsessing over your food intake? Wanting to get more attention and praise & so obsessively exercising to get a ripped lean body that those fit chicks on Instagram?

In my opinion, an important key to recovering (and deriving happiness from it) is this:

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Whenever I find myself obsessing over calories and getting anxious about my weight, I force myself to sit down and think “Why am I wanting to restrict my food and lose weight?” My answer? I wanted to be thinner; I wanted to lose weight, get attention and seek praise.

And then I think back to what I did to achieve that and what happened when I lost the extra weight: constantly watching what I eat and constantly wondering what I can and cannot eat to lose weight, exercising more and even comparing myself to pictures of thin women and using that as motivation to lose weight. Needless to say, my emotional wellbeing took a dip. When I chose to let go (difficult but I still chose it), I was so much happier. I was less stressed about food & wasn’t beating myself up over that bite of chocolate.

That’s the paradox of control. You can be in control of your life ONLY when you stop trying to be in control of every single aspect all the time. Maybe that’s a lesson that is also involved in eating disorder recovery:  that it’s okay to not be in control at all timesThat its okay to be imperfect. That its okay to overeat on some days. That its okay to not have a meal plan or if you do, to not follow it 100% all day everyday. That its okay to not an itty bitty waist or the body that some celebrities have.

When we stop trying to control our food, we start:

  • Really listening to our body and eat what our body tells us it needs
  • Allowing ourselves sweets and chocolate and cake and ice-cream when we want it without feeling guilty.
  • Removing any emotional associations with food.
  • Finding out that we don’t crave “bad” foods as much as want
  • Choosing to eat foods based on what our body feels it needs at that moment

We can’t always control what we eat, how much we eat and how much we exercise. The thing we can control, is how we choose to respond to a situation. The more we try to control what/how/when we eat, the more emotionally distressed we feel (anger, sadness, self-disgust). But if we choose to change how we perceive food, our relationship to food, and displace our self-worth from our weight, the less our food will control our mental wellbeing

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Perfection doesn’t exist and we are all flawed so let’s just learn to accept that we are flawed human beings just wanting to survive, wanting to pat the dust off our shoes and work on recovering from our disordered eating patterns and just be the best person in recovery that we can be.

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10 minutes with Blair Thompson

Welcome back guys! Today’s interview is with a wonderfully gorgeous aspiring undergraduate/ aspiring dietician / warrior, Blair Thomspon ❤

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Blair runs an instagram account: @bodypositiveeverydamday (*hint hint: go check her out and also, yes its dam!). I decided to reach out to her because she posts the most amazing inspirational posts and messages. She reveals her hopes, her dreams, her fears and her vulnerabilities in her posts & whole-heartedly shares with her followers her journey toward body acceptance and recovering from her eating disorder. Her triumphs and her struggles reflect those of ours and that’s what makes her so incredibly relatable. In a way, she’s us. Its as though there’s a bond because she makes one go “oh my god yes that’s me I was going through the same thing and I’m not alone”. In a way I can’t help but feel connected to her, tied by our shared understanding of the same trials and tribulations about our bodies we go through as we continue fighting our eating disorder; as though we know each other even though we live on opposite sides of the globe.

That’s the beauty of it all – shared struggles bring people together.

Blair’s responses came at such an opportune time, because the day I received her responses and read them (August 29), I was going through an incredibly bad body image and eating day. PMS was currently still is hitting me, and when that happens, I get really bad bloating. Its so bad until my tummy actually hurts and I can’t stand up properly and need to lie down because it feels as though my tummy is about to burst. I start swelling & puffing up like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it was giving me really bad body image issues. Plus, I wanted to eat so many things & it was bringing back a lot of unhealthy negative thoughts about restricting and body-bashing. It made me feel like I was taking 53 steps back in my recovery, that I was relapsing because I was slipping over and over again.

Not only did Blair share some of the current struggles I go through, she spoke about some of the things that I actually, up til now, still fear admitting. But then I learned: There is NO one way to recover. People are going to struggle with negative thoughts handout disordered eating, sometimes on some days, sometimes everyday. But that’s all right, and that doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you human. When I slip and make mistakes, binge or cry and restrict or throw tantrums, I always end up thinking that there is no other person out there going through what I’m experiencing because like what a wise friend once told me, when you’re hurting, little else matter. But then there are people like Blair who remind me that I am not alone, who share their accounts of same pains and use their struggle to help others and help themselves.

So thank you Blair, for sharing your story with me and reassuring I’m not as wrecked as I make myself out to be and that even though I am still broken, still recovering, still fighting, still bingeing, still struggling, still crying, what’s more important is that I am still brave enough to continue fighting these demons that I have been fighting since Day 1.

I will share some of her personal Instagram posts with you at the end of the interview so as to give you a sneak peek into how she motivates her followers. Until then here’s introducing to you, Blair Thompson ❤

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Hi! For those unfamiliar with you and what you do, please introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Blair Thompson; I am currently recovering from binge eating disorder. I developed this disorder while I was recovering from anorexia. I am getting my degree as a dietitian, so that I can help people with eating disorders, so I will specialize in eating disorders. Right now I am trying to help others by trying to spread the word to be body positive, to love yourself at any weight or at any size.

Why did you decide to create an Instagram account about eating disorder recovery and body positivity?

This is an awesome question. I created mine because when I deep down wanted help with recovery I never got the help. I got dangerously thin, and I knew there was something wrong, I was tired of being afraid to eat, afraid of fat. I always thought about food and working out. I wanted help, but I never got it, so I tried to recover on my own, I had no support, so I ended up developing binge eating disorder and now I have so much support and I go to a therapist and a nutritionist. I really want to give back to every person who is suffering with an eating disorder, so I use my instagram to help others.

Could you share with us your eating disorder story?

I will gladly share my story. Growing up I was chubby, I was not a little thin person, and I am short but compact. I was very athletic and good at every sport I tried. All I wanted to do is have fun and run around, I did eat a lot of food, mostly junk food, but I was happy and so healthy. I moved a lot and at every school people noticed that I was fat, and they would tell me. I got called fatty all the time, people would make fun of my chin and tell me that I had no chin. My dad told me that once I got older I would be more concerned with my weight. I did not understand what he meant. Then in 8th grade I really liked this guy but he did not like me because I was that fat girl that was shy but really nice. I decided to leave and go to boarding school, when I got there, people called me fat, guys were like “ I can’t date you because you are fat”. I had to be “small”, “thin” to be attractive. I took all of that to heart; I was tired of being ignored. I started to eat healthier, eating less, and working out a lot. I came back sophomore year and lost about 15 pounds, over a year. Everyone told me that I looked so much better. I felt so good, people who ignored me, were in love with me. People treated me with respect and they treated me so much better. Then I had guys flirting with me and complementing me from left to right. I was in heaven. I had a ton of boyfriends from sophomore year to junior year. I loved the attention. Most guys I dated were over the Internet, some in person. The guys at my school were starting to notice me, and one guy touched me in a sexual way, and I felt so uncomfortable. I told a teacher about it, and it was called sexual abuse, he was so mean to me. Each guy that I dated tried and did force me to do things that I did not want to do. They were attracted to me because of the way I looked; I tried to find self-love through an unhealthy way through guys. It did a lot of damage on my self-esteem, I thought that when I got thin, I would feel loved, more importantly I would love myself. Turns out, I did not love myself, I hated myself, I would workout and eat nothing because I thought that it would help me with my self-love problem, but it didn’t. I had poor relationships with guys, one guy tried to have sex with me, but I wouldn’t let him, so he forced me to give him a hand job, I was so scared, I couldn’t move and then after I just cried and cried. I ended that, and I thought it happened because I was ugly, and not thin enough. My problem got worse and worse, my negative thoughts were awful, I self harmed every time I ate, I hated my body and that fact that I had to eat. Eventually I got into a relationship with a guy that I am with now, it is a serious relationship, but he had to deal with me cutting, and being depressed and anorexic. Our relationship almost ended so many times because I cared more about being thin, and feeding my eating disorder rather than focusing on our relationship. It happened again when I started binge eating. Eating disorders love to ruin relationships because it wants you in isolation, and it will do anything to get you there. Now I am still struggling with negative thoughts, and my binge eating disorder, but I am trying to take it one day at a time, hopefully one day, I will be binge free.

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What made you decide to seek help?

The fact that my eating disorder ruined my life, and it made it so that I was not able to function in life, I couldn’t do anything, or enjoy anything. My relationship was falling apart, my grades were falling apart, I was falling apart, I just honestly wanted to die because I couldn’t and can’t stop eating. I knew that I needed the help, and once I decided to get help, the easier it was for me to chose recovery and learn how to deal with my mental problems.

Have there been times when you felt tempted to return to your old habits? How did you overcome them?

There as been meaning times I have felt tempted to return to my old habits. I don’t starve myself anymore; it has been 2 years since I last starved myself. I actually binged ate today (August 28, 2015). I have not cut since 2013. I overcame not starving myself because my body was slowly breaking down and shutting down, I needed food, so my body made it so that I couldn’t stop eating because I starved it for 5 years, and I had my binge eating disorder for 2 years. I have not successfully been able to stop a binge, but The longest I went without binge eating was 3 months, but recently I can only make it about 2 weeks. I have been trying to eat food in moderation and eat food that makes me feel good.

What do you think it means to be “recovered” from an eating disorder, and what are some steps that you take to ensure that you stay on the path of recovery?

To me it means that you choose to be recovered everyday, to know when you are having eating disorder thoughts or negative harmful thoughts. I honestly do not think people can get fully cured from an eating disorder. Even though their weight is restored, does not mean that they are fully recovered. Everyday I tell myself to be positive, that my body is beautiful even though I have fat, and that I still have binge eating episodes. I am perfectly imperfect. Yes I am fat, chubby whatever, and I know that recovery is a bumpy path but giving up is not an option, even if I do fall down one day, I get up and keep going.

What happens when you “fall down”? Could you give us some examples? How do you get back up on your feet?

This is a perfect question for right now. Today I have had a hard day because I had an urge to binge eat. I tried to fight it all day, but then after dinner I just ate everything, I couldn’t stop and I can’t stop. My stomach hurts because I ate too much. I try very hard to not let my falls get me down, I try to tell myself that it is okay, that I am okay, to just breath, and just relax. I cry, crying does help, and I let myself feel everything, because I fall every time to quiet my mind from all the feelings. It is unhealthy; it is so healthy just to let yourself feel every feeling.

What has changed since embarking on recovery, in terms of your perception of yourself, your mindset or your attitude?

A lot changed, my life attracts more positive things, like people and more opportunities. My life is so much more enjoyable; I find pleasure in doing the simple things in life again. I can go out, I can eat out and not worry about food, I can enjoy my friends, and family. It just makes life a happier place, it makes my mind a lot healthier, and my mindset and my attitude is les negative than before. I am working on becoming a more positive person.

Recovering from an eating disorder is slow and can be tiring and equally stressful with lots of obstacles along the way. What advice do you have for other women struggling with their own eating disorder journey?

My advice is to meditate, find a place to write how you feel, be open, and be open minded. Share your story, and struggle to the world through instagram, do not hide; you deserve to have your story be heard. Your ups and downs, your advice through what you go through helps so many people as well. Be honest with yourself and others through your recovery journey.

What was your relationship is to your food before recovery? Did you see it as the enemy or something to be feared? What about now?

Before recovery, I couldn’t eat food, I was afraid of it to the point that I couldn’t stop eating it. I only had good or bad food, so I was not allowed to eat bad food, never ever, which lead me here to binge eating. I saw it as an enemy that I should not have or enjoy. Right now I am actually struggling with my relationship with food, because sometimes I do fear it, and sometimes I do not enjoy it, I try to eat it so fast to get it over with, but sometimes I try my best to enjoy every bite because food is not the enemy and it is not something to be feared.

We live in a society that continues to glorify thin bodies. Despite your quest toward acceptance of your flaws and your vulnerabilities, have you at times, wished you were thinner? How do you overcome that? What can we do?

I wish I were thin everyday, even when I was thin. Sometimes being thin is not even enough. I overcome it by remembering what it was like being thin, it did not help me with my problem, I still hated myself, that is when I realized it has nothing to do with my weight but more with my self-love. I was thin, and it is not as glorifying as people make it to be. I think if we just focus on who were are as a person and focus on what we can do for others and ourselves then we will be able to see more beauty. Instead of looking outwards we should look within ourselves, that is when we will realize that being thin will not help with what we are looking for. Everyone is different, some people are naturally fat or naturally thin or in between.

When you look back to who you were before embarking on your recovery journey, what are some thoughts and feelings that you have about how far you’ve come in terms of how the process of recovery has empowered and changed you?

I realize that I was a lot thinner when I started my recovery journey because I had to restore my weight, but binge eating has had a toll on my weight as well. I am learning to have a balance life, and moderation with everything because I tend to go one extreme to the next. Right now I have come a long way, I use to binge eat everyday, and I use to workout everyday, but I injured myself. So I can’t workout at all, but I can mentally handle that now. I can mentally handle eating too much or eating out. I can eat out with my family or boyfriend or friends. It has changed me in so many ways; I am more flexible with my food and my life in general. I am more willing to do more things because I don’t have to worry about what to eat or what not to eat. The process of recovery has empowered me in a lot of ways as well. I can now share my struggles and my journey with others, and inspire others to do better or be better. I try to be there for everyone, and I can because I have been through the worst parts, and the good parts. I can learn from others as well. I am always willing to learn new ways to recover and help people.

What are some fears that you have about the future when it comes to your eating disorder recovery? How do you stop yourself from stressing out about it (e.g. I personally fear that having children might trigger body image issues!)

My fear is that my binge eating disorder will give me other health problems; I already have a lot already from my anorexia. I have physical injuries from working out too much and starving my body. I am afraid that I will become so physically unhealthy that I will me miserable, I want to be able to go out and do activities, I want to enjoy running around, going on bike rides, and just feeling good mentally and physically. I usually watch tv, talk to a friend that I trust, Post motivational pictures on my instagram. I love listening to music; it helps a lot with stress. I basically fear being unhealthy.

14. Young women are facing a lot of double standards in society as compared to men, and are increasingly becoming sexualized in the media. How do you think this is affecting the way women (and even adolescents) see themselves in terms of their body image and/or other mental health issues?

Ugh. This is another good question. I feel like women are taught that we need to look good and be attractive for men, and only men. A lot of my eating disorder problems come from this. Being that unattractive girl, many older women try to teach us that we need to look good in order to do well in life, we need to look good for men and if we don’t we have basically failed in life. Even women see other women as sexual objects, especially the one’s who are “attractive” and we are all thinking to ourselves that we wish we were attractive like that so we can achieve being liked by men. We can’t help it, we are taught this way and it is put in our heads from the very beginning. I think it is a big thing for mental health issues as well, it is put in our heads that if we are not attractive then we are not good enough, and living life feeling not good enough is horrible. We treat ourselves with disrespect, we allow ourselves to do harm things to our own bodies or we put ourselves in harmful relationships because we think we deserve that because we aren’t “attractive” but in reality every person is attractive. We all deserve to be good enough and to feel good enough. We are more than just bodies and our looks, we are a soul that has a body, and we should take care of it, and take care of our soul.

How do you wish to see yourself in the next 1 year? 5 years?

I wish to see myself binge free in 1 year with a job, and having fun volunteering and getting experience for my dietitian degree. In 5 years I hope to see myself as a registered dietitian that specializes in eating disorders. I hope that I will be living with my boyfriend, and hopefully we will be more than that by then. I hope that I will still be binge free by then as well.

What do you think it means to be a beautiful & empowered woman?

To me being beautiful and empowering has everything to do with personality, you can look good but if you have a bad personality than I am sorry you are not an attractive person because your personality is harmful and mean towards others. If you have an amazing personality and you are a truly amazing human being then you are considered a beautiful empowering person to me. If you are willing to help others and to help yourself than I still will believe that you are beautiful person. I do not believe that there are ugly looking people in this world, only ugly personalities. Looks change, we get older but our souls will live on forever, so love yourself always, no matter what you look like.

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“I am trying to accept my belly and body as it is. Tonight was hard. I don’t know if I would consider if I binged ate or not. I ate a lot of food because I was hungry, but I had that out of control feeling &  started crying because I binged ate on Monday and I was like I don’t need this right now. I also went to therapy on Tuesday. Which helped me a lot. But i am still struggling with food. I probably don’t eat enough throughout the day. And hen at night I get too hungry and can never get full. Ugh. Recovery is hard, but it is worth it. And I never want to go back to starving myself, but I also seem to overfeed myself now. One extreme to the next. I am slowly learning moderation and what it means to have a balanced life and a balanced diet. “

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“Today I had to look nice because of a school project. I felt so good and I actually felt I looked nice lol. But then I sat down. I don’t have a couple of belly rolls. My whole stomach is a roll that rolls over my underwear and sticks out of my dress. It made me so upset that I got a headache and I felt so lightheaded and dizzy, I got so tense and my whole body just started to hurt. I couldn’t focus and I couldn’t think straight. I just felt like I was there. Watching everything happen but not being aware of my surroundings. Then I thought to myself that I need to eat less and do this I need to do this and do that. Or I eat too much or whatever. I get upset because I am a recovering binge eating now. Not recovering from anorexia which wouldn’t be a bad thing for me eat too much, because my body needs the food to live. But now it is like, I need to learn to balance between binge eating and anorexia. Which would be moderation and balance and a healthy mind. I am allowed to feel upset, but I have to accept what I feel and move on in order to grow and recover. “

anxieties about eating when traveling abroad

Wow so its been a while since I last did a proper blog post. In between job-hunting & experiencing a quarter-life crisis trying to figure my life out, I’ve been feeling pretty zoned out and just felt a need to take a break from what I do on social media with regards to body image and EDs.

A few days ago I was just looking through the photos I took during my solo trip to Japan (Kyoto, Osaka & Nara) and found some pictures of food that I took. I’m by no means those people on Instagram with the compulsive urge to take pictures of their food before eating it. I’m more of the “can we just eat already?” kind of person. Anyway, I had taken the photos because I knew that when I got back, I wanted to do a blog post about the anxieties I always experience whenever I travel abroad and eateng.

Every time before I travel I’m always plagued by these questions

  • What if I can’t find food that’s suitable for me?
  • What kind of food can I eat?
  • Will the food I’ve been eating be available there?
  • What if I get fat?

In ED recovery, there is a “routine” of sorts that you become familiar with that is really important in  recovery, especially in the early phases. After spending so long eating haphazardly and bouncing from not eating to full blown bingeing, its important to establish a proper eating routine to help your body get its natural appetite and rhythm back and help you learn how and when to eat. At home (Singapore), I’m familiar with what types of food I can get, and where I can get them. I’d stick to certain types of food and avoid foods that I know will trigger unhealthy thoughts. I make sure that I eat something balanced at every meal (proteins/carbs/veggies) instead of just proteins orchards because I know I will start panicking if I eat only from one food group. Routine helps ease my anxiety because the predictability of knowing and being able to plan what food I will eat helped ease my transition into longer-lasting recovery. Routine also gives me something to rely on. Whenever I have a slip and mess up my eating, be in through overeating or bingeing from, negative thoughts, stress or boredom, I tell myself to just calm down and make a mental note to go back to my “routine” of my regular eating patterns that I’ve been adhering to (e.g. balanced meals, drinking lots of water etc). Routine also means that sometimes when I just don’t feel comfortable with eating a certain food, especially when I eat out, I’ll fall back on something that I know is “safe” for me.

While routine has its benefits, it also has its consequences in the long run. In the long run, routine means that we don’t learn to break out of our comfort zone. We end up eating the same type of food from the same places at every meal and may actively reject food that doesn’t adhere to our routine. We can’t possibly do that the rest of our lives? Are we going to reject cake at a best friend’s party because its not part of our routine, even if its just for one day? Are we going to refuse to enter a cafe or restaurant because it doesn’t serve the exact type of food you want? One can become bored with routine after a while. We need to practice flexibility and be willing to explore different types of food once in a while

The first few months of my recovery I spent a long time creating my own routine. I made sure to drink water before and after each meal because I know that when I don’t feel full, I may end up bingeing like I would in the past. I try my best to make sure I eat a balanced meal each time I eat and at the same time so that I wouldn’t panic at eating only carbs or only protein.

Before going to Japan (and also before my three trips to the USA) however, I spent about a week worrying about food. I’d be facing a totally new environment. I wouldn’t be able to go to a coffeeshop and order from a menu that I know. I don’t know what kind of food there will be. What kind of food am I going to be able to get? What happens if I have a slip? What if the food makes me fat?

After days of frantic anxiety and introspection, I came to the simple conclusion: I am going on vacation people. The point of a vacation is to see & experience new things. I’m not going to bring my alter-ego Snix along for the ride. I want to breathe in fresh hair, struggle to communicate with the locals, get lost in alleyways, watch the sunsets & walk all over the city. I don’t want to spent hours on end agonizing over food. I don’t want to go to a new country and eat food that I can eat back home. Heck I want to be able to try the local food while I’m there. That’s what traveling is about. Agonizng about food just robs you of the amount of joy & enthusiasm you will experience while on vacation.

Of course being on vacation doesn’t mean you should put your recovery on hold and take this as an opportunity to overeat every day. Yes, I was still worried & I wanted to enjoy myself without so I made sure to apply my own principles that I learned while I was abroad that: (1) eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full, (2) whenever possible try to eat balanced meals & (3) know your trigger foods but be willing to try something new. 

For instance, I typically have toast for breakfast in the morning, but I didn’t want to have plain ol’ toast while in Japan. In Japan, green tea and red bean go together like peanut butter and jelly. So every morning for breakfast I’d eat a different type matcha green tea pastry filled with azuki beans, topped with eggs…well, because I like eggs. One day it’d be a green tea danish pastry with red bean paste, the next I’d have a green tea choux puff with azuki beans and the next I’d have a green tea croissant topped with almonds and azuki beans. Its still bread, but just a different type of bread I always eat. When I ordered soba noodles from a noodle stand on the streets after visiting the Bamboo Grove Forest, I ordered extra sides as I didn’t want to eat only the noodles & wanted something with protein to satisfy my appetite.

What also helped keep me distracted from my worries about eating was that I was kept really busy with sightseeing. I was always seeing new things and taking in new sights and just the awe & excitement at being able to see beautiful world heritage sights was enough to take my mind off from food. Why worry about something like food when you can have a visual feast on breathtaking gardens, historic temples & magnificent mountains and lakes? When you’re treated to magnificent views, food becomes irrelevant.

To those of you with fears about how to continue your recovery journey while on vacation, give yourself a break and allow yourself in try some of the local cuisine there because you can’t do that often when you’re back home! Not only will trying the local food give you bragging rights (you guys had borsch soup? Sweet, did I tell you I had authentic borsch soup while I was in Russia), it helps you break away from your comfort zone and learn how to be more flexible with your eating and add more variety and fun to your meals. You don’t have to try something new for every meal time if it will make you panic, but do make the effort to try something new for at least one of your meals.

It can be daunting and scary, but the key here is to not think about dieting. Think about how you started your recovery and what steps you did to get your eating back on track? Continue to apply those when you are choosing the foods you eat and when eating them. For me, it was to have a balanced meal (I need to have a good mix of both carbs and proteins in every meal now and will feel weird if I don’t), eat til I’m full and drink water.

Now now to address the elephant in the room: as for your fear of getting fat, unless you’re in a tour group where’ll you’ll be sitting in a tour bus, think of all the walking and running around you’ll be doing. Some of the best sights in a new town are only discovered by walking so put on your walking shoes and go walk around! You’ll be getting in tons of cardio by all that hours of walking. I admit I too was afraid about gaining weight when abroad because I most certainly am not going to go to the gym when in Japan. But I was walking just about everywhere I went. I mean literally almost everywhere I went –  except of course when I needed to take the trains to other parts of the city – as it was just too far. I was walking along busy streets, “accidentally” walking into back alleys, strolling long pathways next to lakes and flowers & climbing up hills and endless stairs. Moreover, buses don’t really run in temples, shrines and gardens so there was a lot of distance that I covered on foot and I got to see lots of amazing sights that I wouldn’t have been able to see if I took the bus.

Finally, please remember this crucial thing: you are abroad. It can be for leisure or business, but the fact is: you’re going to a different country! That’s an exciting thing for anybody and you shouldn’t let your fear of food get in the way of discovering new and exotic places! Sure it might take some planning and some effort, but you’ll definitely enjoy your experience more so go ahead, bring out that wanderlust and treat yourself ❤

And now…PICTURES

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This is a traditional Japanese food called Okonomiyaki. It was 8pm by the time I got back to the Kyoto Station area where my guesthouse was and I was starving and simply decided to just go to whatever happened to be open at the time. It was my first day then and hadn’t really the chance to look around at the food places. I came across this in the menu and was about to pass it up, but decided that since I was in Japan, it’d be silly to not try a traditional Japanese food. It came with a choice of fillings so I had this with pork though I didn’t particularly fancy it as it was more wheat than anything else. I ended up dipping it in mayonnaise for added oomph.

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THIS IS SOYA DONUTS AND I HAD THE CHOCOLATE ONE AND IT WAS SO GOOD I WISH THERE WERE SOYA DONUTS IN SINGAPORE. Its more chewy and more doughy than regular donuts & oh my Lord I love soya donuts & I actually smuggled one home in my lunchbox & now I wish I had bought more.

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Some places do have English menus, but in other places, they don’t.. My friend, Mika read the menu for me but in the end I told her to order whatever she thought we should have.

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So Mika brought me to a place that serves kushiage – fried food skewered onto a stick! We ordered the set meal & we had fried chicken, fried salmon, fried sweet potato, friend green beans & fried cheese. YES. Fried cheese. I’m not one for fried food, and knowing that we’d be having a lot of fried food for dinner freaked me out. I ended up removing about 70% of the batter and eating what was underneath!

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This is the fried cheese! I was expecting something else to be honest, but it turned out to be a slab of regular cheese coated in batter. But still so cool!

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According to Mika, this delightful thing is called “monaka” which is actually azuki bean filling sandwiched between wafer slices, but the kushiage bar that we went to served ice cream instead of azuki bean filling. I initially didn’t want it as I don’t usually have a full desert after dinner but I’m so glad I ate it in the end because it was so nice to be able to eat ice cream after not eating it in months. AND it was so good.

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I decided to go and have McDonald’s on my last night because I really wanted to see how different it is in Japan. If memory serves me right, the menu for the outlet I went to in Gion only displayed, 5 types of burgers. No fancy Big Macs or special kinds of burgers whatsoever. No double chickens or fishes whatsoever. It’d either be simple chicken, fish or beef with their own Japanese dressing. Plus, fries, corn and some dessert or another. I decided to have the chicken filet burger because Singapore’s McDonald’s don’t serve chicken burgers.

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THIS WAS MAGNIFICENT I’M SO GLAD I BOUGHT THIS EVEN THOUGH IT WAS 2 BUCKS. It a matcha danish pastry with azuki beans I bought from the food department in Isetan (favorite department ever). You know how some bakeries rip you off by putting only a little bit of filling inside and selling it to you? This was different. This was filled with azuki bean paste in in layered swirls and topped with matcha green tea powder and it was just beautiful.

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I WENT TO HOGWARTS (okay Universal Studios) AND HAD ME A CUPPA BUTTERBEER. It was perfect to counter the sun beating down on your back!

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This matcha green tea macaron i picked up in Nara was amazeballs.

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Matcha green tea ice cream. Oh god. I couldn’t stop. Again, I didn’t want to get ice cream but I decided to just sod it because I wanted to have matcha ice cream in Japan. The matcha flavor was fabulously intense.

Now feast your eyes on a vast array of other types of food I saw whilst trawling through the streets of Japan.

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Convenience stores do sell ready-made bubble tea for you! Now that I think about it, I’m not sure how long they’re kept in the fridges and how fresh it’ll be. I’m thinking they bring in new ones every day and toss out unsold ones but when I first saw them I thought it was such a neat concept!

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Every time I enter a convenience store I’d always end up spending 5-10 minutes just looking at their drinks.

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You will see ice cream stands like this all over Kyoto.

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Some stalls along the street served free tea! It was cold, wet and raining and I decided to abuse that privilege for 10 minutes to warm myself up. Oops.

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I wish I had bought one back home 😦 I’m not a fan of cake but I can be partial to cream & the cream filling inside is just tempting me, even right now.

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Bento boxes!

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I came across this stall selling these spiral fries! I didn’t buy them though because I didn’t want to ruin my appetite for a proper meal later as it was already lunchtime then but it looked really interesting!

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Japanese curry is my absolute favorite Japanese food. I’m just sad that I only saw this restaurant on my last night AFTER dinner and on the way home and I couldn’t get to eat try it. I did have Japanese curry at another place, and also again in Osaka with Mika BUT STILL.

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I came across this sight while in Osaka and was curious to find out what it was. When I edged closer, it turned out to be a line of  business workers eating soba while standing up. Yep. In Japan, there is “fast food” places called Tachigui Soba – in which you literally stand up and eat soba when you’re hungry and in a rush and have time for a quick meal. They are mostly in train stations that serve commuters. Its fast food, not because its fried food, or burgers or anything. Its because…standing up and eating the soba like that without the need to sit down and wait is quick and efficient.

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Green tea popcorn! I contemplated buying one carton but it was so expensive! It was $7 so I just stood around staring at it for like 5 minutes before walking away and commiserating with that green tea ice cream.

The subsequent pictures below are food items from Nishiki Food Market – a market place that’s famous in Kyoto for selling traditional Japanese food at cheaper prices. Fish, meat, octopus, Japanese sake, wine, plum juice, traditional crackers, squid, clogs. You name it. Some say you might even spot whale meat but I didn’t. I thought I saw the Kanji character for “whale” but it turned out to be eel instead.

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Quail egg stuffed in the head of an octopus. Yeah I’m not sure I feel about this.

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Dried food

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That’s all folks! Shall post more pictures from my Japan trip in the next blog post!

wise words to think about when you have a major slip in recovery

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2 days I went through something that triggered a range of thought patterns and behaviors that were most prominent on the height of my eating disorder 3 years ago when I was 21. Usually when I experience a trigger, I slip and I take 2 or 3 steps back in my recovery, but then I’m able to bounce back from it within the hour. This particular trigger however, was much more severe. I didn’t take any steps back. Rather, I fell into a bloody pithole and I’ve been struggling to get out of it ever since.

Sharks are pulling at me. My arms are flailing madly. My mind is overwhelmed.

I was criticizing my body. I was in distress. I was thinking that I needed to lose weight by the weekend. I started thinking of restricting and going on diets, wanting to exercise a lot more, and even contemplated taking diuretics. I was almost tempted to do so yesterday; I was staring at the bottle that’s being kept in the kitchen, playing with it. fiddling it and reading the pamphlet over and over again. After about 5 minutes I abandoned it and went back to my room to continue packing. What’s scarier was that I never took diuretics and/or laxatives during when I was severely struggling. Never. In the past I never dared take diuretics and or laxatives yet now here I was, just suddenly picking it up and wanting to consume them. I had wanted to get skinny so much yesterday that I went to a new extreme of wanting to consume diuretics / laxatives after my meals. This was a new behavior. Very new. I myself was so surprised at how easily the thought of taking it came to my mind.

What had happened to me? Why am I becoming like this? This isn’t me. I don’t know this person. 

I lay in bed at night with my heart racing. I was panicking and thinking of how fat I was. My body felt incredibly big and I didn’t like it. On the one hand, I was attempting to reason the ED voice, but the other, Snix told me to just screw it and do whatever I wanted to get skinny.

I went from practicing mindful eating and learning to love myself to suddenly wanting to starve and restrict, wanting to take laxatives, fearing feeling full and exercising as much as I can to get skinnier.

Something had seriously gone wrong.

I tried changing my thoughts and reading self-affirmations online. It didn’t work.

But so so so thankfully, my bestie said something this afternoon that struck a chord in me, and I want to share some of her words with all of you:

‘What do you think you’ll achieve if you indeed become as skinny as you wanted to be? What is this thing that’s so important to you? You are everything great too, dear. You’ve got a family, a healthy body, a great exercise regime, freedom to eat whatever you want and go dancing whenever you want, so many coo ass friends to chat with, a spiffy blog, a sense of humor etc etc. Why, I don’t understand, out of all these things, being skinny is important to you? Is there something else that’s really the problem?  Do you want other people to smile at you, hiding their fangs, telling you you’re sooooooooo skinny, sooooooo pretty, soooooooo enviable? Because I don’t think you do. I think you’re happy with what you have, but the Devils are telling you you need more when you really don’t. “

If you’re struggling right now, ponder over these words.

What is this thing that is so important to you?

Meghan Trainor Part 1: what i think about her interview comments on “trying anorexia”

To those of you who aren’t entirely kept in the loop about this situation, Meghan Trainor has unceremoniously rattled some cages because she had made some comments about body positivity and anorexia in an interview with Entertainment Tonight which might not have been the most sensitive towards those struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. They say that pictures speak a thousand words, so in a nutshell, here was what went down:

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Question. Why would you “try” anorexia?

I agree with what Demi Lovato and many other angry individuals have had to say in response: that anorexia, or any other eating disorder for that matter, isn’t about strength. From this comment, Meghan glamorizes eating disorders such that eating disorders are something that require strength and willpower; something that not all people achieve; that only the strong, mighty and powerful will get because they have “what it takes” to get an eating disorder. In another strange perspective, the end goal is something that’s supposedly glamorous and worthy only of the strong. Like Thor and that unearthly hammer of his.

To those who took offense at Meghan’s comments. I understand. I really do.  When I read “tried being anorexic”, I was like ” What do you mean try anorexia. You can’t try anorexia. Anorexia is a lifestyle choice that SHOULDN’T be made at all in the first place. No one just wakes up one day and goes I think I should like to try surviving on 500 calories a day, weighing yourself obsessively and losing your hair and muscle mass? ” Anorexia can kill people. People can spend hours agonizing over whether an apple will make them gain weight, exercise excessively, weigh their food, cut out entire food groups and count calories. You don’t just try anorexia. It is not a dietary option. 

But then I thought, does she even know what it means to have anorexia? Where did she get her information from? Where does her current perceptions of anorexia and eating disorder come from?

She’s actually not the only one…

 You know, I myself made a silly comment once by saying something along the lines of “if you were strong enough to restrict your food intake, then you are strong enough to fight for eating disorder”. Clearly I didn’t know that the word “strength” was inappropriate in that particular context even though I myself was restricting and bingeing.  I thought I was helping others and frankly speaking, didn’t really think my words through because what was on the forefront of my mind was wanting to help somebody. Plus, I was just fresh into recovery myself. I didn’t understand what was happening with me, let along any other eating disorders for that matter.

You know what I think? I think that Meghan probably did have good intentions when she made that comment; intentions that just came out sounding wrong because she, like so many other people, just don’t fully understand what it means to have an eating disorder. They know that an eating disorder is awful, but just don’t know how ago about telling it to another person because they’ve never personally experienced it.

When I started becoming slightly more open about my eating disorder and relayed my experiences to some people, I’ve had some them tell me “Whoa, I can’t be like you, I’ve never really had the willpower to go on an extreme diet like that. Not strong enough”. Seriously. They likened going on an extreme diet to willpower and strength. But I didn’t get offended at that. How could I, when I knew that they really didn’t mean it because they don’t understand something they’ve never personally been through? Well sure you need willpower to go on a diet, but not willpower and strength for anorexia or other eating disorders for that matter. The outstanding difference between the former and the latter is that in the former, you can stop dieting anytime you want, and diets as we all know, are prone to failure. People go on diets almost all the time and they give up almost all the time as well. When they reach their goal, they either stop dieting, or maintain their goal weight by sustaining their diet but less than before. When they don’t reach their goal weight or lose motivation, they just give the diet & go back being happier than surviving on salads but hold the mayo thanks. But eating disorders? It can be addictive. You don’t just stop being anorexic like you stop dieting. Its more than the visceral. Its the mental. People with eating disorders tend to have distorted perceptions about their body. They believe their bodies to be wrong and ugly and needs to be changed. Its about control and perfectionism and the need to coform to a particular standard of beauty than it is about health. People can die from anorexia mind you.

Like many people, their understand of eating disorders come from the media: movies and Hollywood and the like. We read about celebrities struggling with anorexia and bulimia and other forms of disordered eating and we read their accounts of their ordeals and the changes their bodies go through. We read about Mary-Kate Olsen telling us her scary diet she was on & we’ve seen Nicole Richie’s skeletal frame in a bikini. On the surface, we know what involves and will list off things such as “severely underweight”, “think that they are severely overweight when they are actually very thin”, but many of us tend to take it at face value as opposed to truly grasping its meaning. Just like myself and my understanding of gambling addiction. I know the symptoms. I studied abnormal psychology and studied the DSM. I can tell you what is symptomatic of anxiety disorder, but I will not ever truly understand the impulse that comes with it. I won’t ever truly understand the anxieties they feel when they don’t gamble. I won’t ever fully understand why they break therir promise of not going gambling ever again. I won’t ever fully grasp their thought processes. I am not them, and they are not me.

One won’t ever fully understand the journey of another person, unless you are walking on the same path. 

That’s why Demi Lovato is a role model for so many people struggling with eating disorders, self harm and body image issues. She’s been there. She knows what we are going through. She can find words the things we don’t know how to express. But Meghan? Probably not so much. Which is why even though Meghan sings about body confidence, I’d rather turn to Demi because the girl gets me. And I her.

So back to Meghan

Neither you nor I know Meghan personally. I don’t know the extent of her disordered eating or the extent to which she attempted eating disorder. As of now I do know she doesn’t completely understand the complexities of eating disorders as much as other people who’ve struggled with it for years, who’ve read up lots about it, who’ve shared their personal stories, who know how to speak about it & approach sensitive issues because they’ve been speaking about it for a long time to others. Miss Trainor’s been on the scene a few good months and I don’t know this for sure, I highly suspect that she wasn’t fully prepared for this interview and probably might not have bargained on sharing a lot of details about her personal life, including the “trying out anorexia” bit. So in all honesty, she probably just should have just kept quiet about EDs because she clearly isn’t sufficiently educated about eating disorders to make a comment. I mean its pretty straightforward. If you know nada about an issue, then don’t comment on it, or throw in a disclaimer: “I don’t claim to know much about eating disorders” or ” I’ve never had an eating disorder so if my comments offend anybody, forgive me.” etc. Communication skills, girl. Communication.

So why is she getting so much flak when she’s not the only one?

For the record, Meghan isn’t the only celebrity who actually said she tried being anorexic:

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That’s right people that’s Kat Dennings.

She’s our feisty Max Black in 2 Broke Girls and she herself had said that she had “tried being anorexic for 4 hours” before needing some bagels in her interview with Philadelphia back in 08’ which you can read here. I tried Googling to see I there was the same kind of public outcry that Meghan is now receiving, but I didn’t. No blog posts, none on message boards. Her’s quotes been immortalized on Pinterst and Tumblr though. So why Meghan and not Kat? Why didn’t anyone glitter bomb and throw roaches at her? I don’t really know. My guess is back in 2008, she wasn’t a very well known celebrity, and campaigns for body positivity and eating disorder weren’t the rage and nobody really paid any attention to mental health and body love. That is until celebrities started singing about it. Mary Lambert and Selena Gomez and Colbie Caillat and John Legend and Nicki Minaj all started singing about being beautiful and embracing your beauty and curves and all your imperfections. Only then did the world start paying more attention to self-love and our distorted perceptions of beauty.

Meghan sung a song about body positivity which has gotten super popular and she’s got many people loving her right now. She’s a media figure. A public role model for everyone everywhere. Her songs are playing everywhere. On the radio, in the supermarkets, even in my gym. Everyone’s just listening to what she has to say. And sing too. Her words are in the spotlight and because of her role as a celebrity, this means whatever she discusses and sings will be scrutinized and/or taken as inspiration. My own momma herself called me stupid for getting an eating disorder and commented that only stupid girls get eating disorders because they only care about themselves, but since she’s not a global media icon, her words went unnoticed except by me. So unlike my mum, Meghan has to be extra careful and sensitive about the things she says and sings about because everyone is listening.

So what now?

Well I don’t really know what now, but based on the comments I’ve read on message boards, blogs, Twitter & Instagram, you have people who continue seeing her as a role model, people who request that she retract her statement & issue an apology for her comments, & also people who just don’t care about her. My opinion? Like I said, she probably shouldn’t have said anything about eating disorders to begin with since she hasn’t a clue about the intricacies of eating disorders. But let’s also throw in some sympthaty and think about the fact that she was affected enough to actually not want to not eat to lose weight. She’s similar to many of us who are struggling with body image issues and eating disorders. She just hasn’t a clue how to go about discussing it. So I suppose an apology or a clarification would be sufficient to appease our angry souls. We want her to admit she’s been careless with her remarks and promise to never cast eating disorders in such a casual “oh let’s give this a shot its like a challenge” manner. You know, when I’m told, or hear of comments about body image and/or eating disorders that are just a little misguided, I post something like this:

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Yeah so follow me on Instagram too ? 😀 😀 

 So, maybe Meghan could do just that. Selena Gomez does it. When the media glamorizes eating disorders or focuses on unrealistic beauty standards, she tweets informational things or posts motivational messages on Instagram. Awareness & education are key, ladies and gentlemen. In the mealtimes, hating on Meghan won’t really do anything really. Sure, you can boycott her music but let’s give just a teeny bit more time and see how her approach to issues body image and eating disorders to develop. People make offhand comments without meaning to so all right I do think it’d be appropriate that she issue an apology; a clarification of sorts to explain herself because after all, she still is somewhat glamorizing eating disorders and making them out to be a fad diet with no negative repercussions.

If she continues making the same crazy remarks of anorexia as some diet fad, then by all means, I’ll join you in sending her cockroaches in her mailbox and glitter bombing her. You and I are aware of it, but we can’t be sure of other women, men & young adolescents and children who are unfamiliar with eating disorders & eventually end up thinking that eating disorders as “something that you can try”, only to find out that “trying” to eat ice and vegetables was just what it took to set the path for more disordered eating in the future. Meghan, honey, if you ever read this, and the other blog posts out there discussing this, you might want to do something about it.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know.

on fear of fullness

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With anything in life, recovering from ED comes with its own fears, and recently I’ve experienced a type of fear that I’ve not really had before that’s made me question the types of thinking I still hold on to that impede recovery.

I love running. And dancing. And basically physical activity that makes me sweat. I like working out, period. And obviously when you work out, you need more energy to be able to work out. And more energy means you might need to eat just a bit more to give your body the energy it needs to move.

Recently however after eating I started becoming scared of feeling full.  It makes me think like I’ve done something wrong and that this will impede recovery. I start panicking. Additionally, I almost immediately start thinking that I’ve eaten too much, and you know what that sometimes can lead to. For me, it led to thoughts like “I’ve eaten too much this isn’t good” or “oh I’ve eaten too much I’ve failed I might as well as stuff my face since it won’t make a difference anyway“. The feelings of anxiety and guilt start settling in like unwelcome house guests and I start thinking of whether or not I should work out extra hard the next day just so i can alleviate my guilt.

I spent the next few days in introspection, assessing my thoughts and emotions and why I was thinking and feeling the way I did, and I suppose still do. And I came to this conclusion: my body is signaling for food but my mind is ignoring this call. On the days that I start to run and work out more intensively (e.g. going for spinning classes oh my goodness have you tried that?), I start to eat more, but I am somehow refusing to give in to this physical need.

Why

It seems that I am holding on a somewhat inflexible thought: that my body by right needs a certain amount of food and I’ve been consuming that particular amount since I started mindful eating. It’s as though I’m (not deliberately of course), keeping a mental log book of the amount of food I’ve consumed as I practice mindful eating and telling me that I should keep to eating this amount of food. So as I begin to run more and my body demands more energy, my mind rejects it.

I know I know. This completely goes against mindful eating because one of the principle notions of mindful eating that I’ve been trying to follow is to eat when you experience hunger and stop when full yet here I am, displaying such erratically contradicting behavior and not even wanting to eat despite my body’s call for food.

I think this happens because some part of my mind is maybe holding on on to the thought that eating more food will make me gain weight, and that is something that my alter-ego simply wouldn’t allow. After all, she’s been in control for the last 6 years and even in recovery, there are times when she sneaks in and calls the shots and makes me question why I’m even eating in the first place. She’s terrified that I’d gain weight.

I won’t lie to you and tell you just because I’m in recovery means I’ve totally abandoned all thoughts of wanting to be thin. Here’s my deal: I work out not because it makes me feel more active, but I do also want to be slimmer. The only difference between the old me, and the present me is that the old me was completely bent on being skinny. Exercise served only one purpose. Her self-worth was defined only by her weight and body shape. The present me is, however, understanding that there is more to her life than body weight and she no longer wishes to be trapped by the mentality that being thin will make you the happiest woman on Earth. Exercise now serves more than that one purpose and she exercise less to be skinny and more to be strong.

I’ve always been talking about my journey with mindful eating and how it played a  helped me regulate my eating and hunger signals at the beginning of last year. I don’t always practice what I preach in the most perfect of ways; I go through ups and downs and am trying to find the right balance that works for me. But ultimately, if your body is signaling hunger, then feed it. You don’t need to experience anxiety, panic or guilt when you feel hunger because it means your body needs to eat for energy. And that’s normal for everyone.

 I think one of the things that can help if you see food as fuel instead of fat. If you don’t eat, obviously your body will start breaking down because you’re not giving it the energy it needs to function properly. If you see food as fat, you’ll start avoiding it and fear feeling hunger. Probably another thing that will help is to actually acknowledge that there is a change in your lifestyle which requires that you consume more energy. I’ve probably been denying that I need to consume more food even though I work out more on some days. And one more thing that just crossed my mind, eat instead of diet. When you think about dieting – or at least when I do – I think of cutting out calories and eating less and eating a specific way. When you diet, your end goal is mind is to be thin. When you eat, you allow your body to eat whatever it needs. When you eat, the end goal is nourishment and satisfaction. Focus on the latter instead and you’ll think less about dieting.

Recovery means learning to trust your body, so learn to listen to your body because it knows what it needs. We don’t act what it tells us right, because for so long we’ve been listening to our ED instead. But the important thing is that you’re making an effort to create change and that’s already something.

Have you experienced a fear of hunger or fullness, and if so how did you go about changing that?