How fast food helped me heal my relationship with eating.
Sounds pretty crazy, right?
How the hell can something as unhealthy for us as fast food actually be a component in healing our relationships with eating?
Let me make it clear that I am NOT endorsing fast food by any means. If you read this blog post or watched my recent YouTube video, you know how I feel about processed foods. What I am doing here is sharing my personal story, and speaking from a perspective of someone who knows that healing our relationships with food and our bodies takes LOTS of mindset work, and also quite a bit of experimenting with things we have for so long forbidden.
And the biggest one…
LETTING GO OF GUILT AROUND, AND MAKING SPACE FOR, THOSE FORBIDDEN THINGS THAT COULD POTENTIALLY NOURISH US.
Even if only for a moment.
I want to first give you an idea of what my life looked like when I was drowning in my battle with food- I hated myself. I spent every day focused on the goal of changing my body, which in turn meant I was doing everything I could to eat in the way I believed would offer me that result. I was restricting certain foods, counting calories, weighing my portions, tracking, and controlled by the belief that food was moral. Because I was so open about my goal of “health” and becoming more fit, I lived in fear of being judged if I wasn’t perfect about it. So in public, I made sure to exude as much “healthy and fit” energy as possible; turning down bad foods, always getting the salad with the dressing on the side, making sure to avoid standing and sitting in ways that were unflattering to my body, exploding with the need to have a conversation with someone about how I was doing all the things I should be to be considered a part of the #fitspo crowd. I worked hard at this body shifting thing, and I wanted people to know it. I wanted to be that girl that was nice, but also hot. I believed that was what power and happiness and love would feel like. (It doesn't)
I exuded this same presence on social media for a long time as well..FYI. You will see/hear me say this almost all the time; What we all have in common is that we just want to be loved and accepted.
In private, I was miserable and I was far from treating myself well. In private, I was jetting off to Walgreens to buy a pint of ice cream and a giant package of soft baked cookies that I would take back to my apartment and eat (in its entirety) alone. I would go through the drive thru at McDonald's at 8:00 at night after a lonely as hell cry session and get my favorite meal, but I would make sure I brought a bag big enough to hide the evidence. I didn’t want to risk the chance of anyone seeing me carrying a McDonald’s bag the 50 feet from my car to my apartment in the dark. How humiliating would that be?
I spilled many a milkshake in my handbag doing this. MANY A MILKSHAKE
But you can bet your cute butt I wouldn’t tell anyone about it.
I was obsessed with people seeing me heading to the gym, or in my sweaty workout gear after a HIIT session in my apartment, but I made sure to hide myself if anything I was doing wasn’t in line with that lifestyle.
I’m not a liar, but when it came to food I felt so much guilt and shame around the fact that I just couldn’t seem to control myself like everyone else could, I lied about it…a lot. I spent a lot of time hating having to always focus on food and fitness and my body, and an equal amount of time beating myself up for hating it, among other things.
It took me a long time to realize that the hard work I was putting into all of this was only hard because I was resisting myself and what I really wanted, in order to become someone that I thought everyone else would accept.
It took me a long time to realize I wasn’t at all living this one life I have for myself.
But I did realize it. I realized a lot of things…and the past 10 months have been the most eye opening transformational period of my life.
And it started with fast food.
Fast food was the one thing I was truly terrified of admitting I was into. I hated admitting I enjoyed anything that was unhealthy, but for some reason I was more willing to admit I had soft baked cookies from Walgreens than I was to admit I went to McDonald’s. So when I decided to jump into healing my relationship with food and my body, I knew one of the first things I needed to do was get fast food, and eat it in public.
Eating badly in public was a fear I had, and it was because of that that I knew I needed to conquer it. It had nothing to do with letting myself go because I finally decided I wanted to love myself as I was. It wasn’t about going full on into rebellion for the way our society is. It was about making a shift in my mindset; again, conquering a fear I had around food that I should never have had. I spent 18 years in a cycle of binge/restrict. I no longer wanted to restrict, because I knew it was the primary cause of my bingeing. What we tell ourselves we can’t have, we want even more. It is just the way we are programmed.
So I stopped restricting the foods we consider bad, and started practicing eating them around people. MY BOYFRIEND of all people who had only known me for 2 months at the time and just so happens to be an extremely hunky dude. I don't say this to be hypocritical of my message, I just want to make the point that at that time, being that vulnerable was HUGE for me. I was well aware of the nutritional nature of these foods, by the way, but at the beginning I couldn’t focus on the nutritional aspect of what I was eating without falling back into diet mentality. Before I could go back to working in that space, I had to first change my behavior and my mindset around the act of eating.
So that’s how I did it. I ate all of the foods I craved but had made off limits for so long..
And guess what happened?
I stopped bingeing. I stopped craving these foods, and I stopped feeling out of control around them. I took my power back, and in doing so I was able to actually start choosing (for the first time in my adult life) when and if I wanted them.
There are several other things I have practiced along the way that have helped me tremendously in my journey, but this one was the first very powerful stepping stone that hurled me forward. For me, it represented breaking free of attachment and rules. It meant I no longer had to live within four walls of a box that I had created for myself because I spent so much time trying to please others.
When we are able to get to that place..the one where we can but we don’t have to do something... the one where we are free to make choices and we no longer feel compelled to live by someone else’s rules; That is where we can start digging into the core of what makes us who we are and start identifying what health actually looks like for us. That is where the true exploration of life can begin.
So if you are just starting on your journey to conquering your food and body challenges, my advice to you today is this;
Don’t be afraid of experimenting with the things that you have restricted for so long. Chances are, allowing yourself to indulge in those things is exactly what you need to start moving forward in your healing process. Don’t anticipate what will happen. Don’t get attached to an outcome. Just try, and see what lessons you can learn from the experience.
And remember that no matter what, you always have the choice to change. You just have to allow yourself the option to do so first.
--If you are struggling with your relationship with food please check out my FREE Jumpstart to Food Freedom Guide, and feel free to ask any questions that may have come up in the comments below! --