How I Healed From An Eating Disorder
I hope you’re doing well and feeling healthy and grounded… [insert 837 deep breaths…]
Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season is a time of reflection for me. This time of year used to be something I detested. In fact, ten years ago instead of going to Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I stayed at home by myself in order to prepare and weigh my own food. I was nervous to eat around others, and I was unable to be surrounded by ‘unhealthy’ food.
At the time I was in the depths of an eating disorder called Orthorexia. Orthorexia is a form of anorexia however the focus is on eating only clean pure foods in tiny amounts. I was so ritualized in my eating to the extent that I was fearful to deviate from my routine. The eating disorder became so intense that I would sometimes only eat one quarter of a blueberry as a snack. Yep. My weight plummeted to 65 pounds and I was nearly hospitalized.
During this time period, I was exposing myself to yoga and holistic health trainings, books and resources. Although I was gathering sacred wisdom and self-healing guidance, I was still stuck. It’s as if this condition had to ‘run its course’… I didn’t know where it came from, and the more I analyze it, the more potential reasons I come up with…
Regardless of the source of my suffering, I can now say with full conviction that I LOVE the holiday season and I get excited to gather and eat with friends and family. In fact, this relaxed and joyful attitude around food extends beyond the holidays into each and every meal I consume. I honestly never thought I’d get to this place of complete freedom around food. But I’m telling you, it’s possible. And I healed on my own.
No, I didn’t stuff food down my throat in order to gain weight and ‘get healthy’. That would have thrown me even deeper into my cycle of deprivation and self-loathing. Instead, I finally used the tools I was gathering. I had no other choice but to get brutally honest with myself. It was time to surrender… to compassionately allow this version of me die so a new mind, body and reality could be birthed…
If you’re struggling with food or if thinking about food is something that consumes your mind to the extent that you find it difficult to relax and enjoy life, I understand and I’d love to share some tips with you that helped me once and for all liberate myself from the depths of darkness (if you know, you know)…
1. Intuitive Eating: I realized that my ritualistic and structured eating habits were being taken to the extreme. I was unable to listen to the subtle signals from my body. Intuitive eating is an opportunity to shift from a masculine-dominated way of functioning to a more feminine and receptive mode. You embody both energies; masculine and feminine. We have mostly been programmed to follow the masculine way; logic, structure, planning, routine, etc. And while the masculine aspect plays an important role in balancing our lives, it must not overshadow the softer more intuitive feminine aspect. Intuitive eating is an invitation to pause, close your eyes and ask yourself what you really want. Think of a baby. When the baby is hungry, the baby eats. When the baby is full, the baby stops. This internal programming is still alive inside you. Who said you have to eat at a particular time of day every day? What feels right to you? When do you feel most relaxed? A great way to practice intuitive eating is to keep a journal of your food and your mood. Notice when you feel hungry, how your mood changes and use that as a guide to start building a solid relationship with your inner wisdom. Your body knows.
2. Mindful Eating: Awareness is everything. In fact, I attribute my healing journey to my yoga and meditation practice. The more aware I became, the less enticing it was to continue to partake in habits that were causing me pain and suffering. Mindfulness is a powerful tool, and mindful eating is a beautiful way to weave meditation in to every single bite. Mindful eating begins by becoming present with your food. It’s ideal to sit down with your food, send gratitude to your food before eating, take a few deep breaths and then take the first bite. But your fork down between bites and sit up tall, relax your belly and chew your food slowly and with full attention. It may seem strange at first, but this practice is potent. Mindful eating and conscious chewing is great for digestion as well as a form of self-love. Instead of shoveling food down your throat out of guilt, shame or fear, mindful eating gently rewires your nervous system to a more relaxed and balanced state. Mindful eating can regulate your hunger levels and stabilize your mood.
3. Intermittent Fasting: This may seem counterintuitive but listen up. If the word ‘fasting’ triggers you, you can replace this term with ‘creating space’. I know for myself, I used to love the feeling of an empty stomach. Giving our digestive systems a break can work wonders for our health, but it must be done with understanding. If you want to feel light without feeling hungry or deprived of nutrients, I suggest to create space between two meals. Whether it’s a 15 hour gap between dinner and breakfast, or snacking less and prioritizing larger meals with functional foods, this type of space between meals will contribute to feeling more energized and weightless without feeling hungry or ungrounded. The main aspect of intermittent fasting is that you are not tricking yourself. You must make sure you are eating enough at your meals in order to give your body enough energy to rest between. A suggestion for a day of intermittent fasting may include waking up and drinking water, maybe a coffee, a green juice or green smoothie, and then beginning with a solid lunch meal and then a light dinner. Always be sure to include Omega-3 fats such as hemp seeds, flax, eggs, pumpkin seeds and walnuts… as well as green veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, cauliflower and cabbage… Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and avocado… and superfoods such as adaptogenic mushrooms, bone broth and sauerkraut. When you are eating whole, nutritious foods, you will feel grounded and light! You deserve this balance!
4. Self-Massage: I used to hate receiving massage. It hurt me, and that’s because I was mostly skin and bones. I carried so much tension in my body from over-exercising and under eating. I couldn’t imagine how people actually enjoyed receiving massage. I had a friend tell me she helped heal her eating disorder through giving herself massage in the shower. It seemed awkward to me, but my desperation was deep so I tried it. It wasn’t necessarily an immediate shift, but this became a regular practice and I still do it to this day, every day… during and after the shower. Self massage is an opportunity to slow down and become more attentive to each and every part of your body. When we shame our body, our body shames us. When we judge parts of our body, we are fueling our internal struggles. Your body is a miracle. It is a sacred vessel… a gift given to you by the Universe. It is our duty to honor this sacred space by spending time nurturing her. The next time you take a shower or bath, spend more time washing each part of your body. Look at your arm, your leg, your belly… wash with awareness. Let yourself feel the mystery and magic of being embodied… just as you are. Whatever emotions rise to the surface, allow yourself to feel them. Your ability to feel is your ability to heal…
5. Pleasure: The greatest lesson I’ve learned to date is the power of pleasure. The number one ingredient I was denying myself during my eating disorder was pleasure. Subconsciously I associated pleasure with self-sabotage or losing control. I was so accustomed to punishing myself that I felt it lazy to soften and allow more joy and relaxation around food. I didn’t trust myself. So, I decided to make pleasure my priority. I was so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and I instinctively knew that I had to let go and surrender. I took it one step at a time. I remember one of the first experiences of conscious indulgence was being invited to a gourmet dinner with friends who used to be Buddhist monks. They were vegetarian and spent many years living in a monastery. We met in Los Angeles and they invited me to a fancy dinner. I agreed since I trusted them. I was surprised to be at a five star restaurant (nope, not a vegan organic hippie spot by any means). We ordered a bunch of small appetizers… most of which I would have never ordered on my own… I consciously chose to suspend my self-imposed strict boundaries and enjoy this food with my friends. I felt safe. We each would take a bite of the food, sit back in our chair, chew and suddenly burst out into laughter! The food was so incredible. We chewed mindfully and shared the joy of flavor and taste together. We didn’t rush. We allowed ourselves pleasure. My digestion was better that night than it had been in all my years of forcing myself to eat kale salads instead of giving my body what she really wanted. I feel nourished on every level and excited and curious to continue honoring my body and allowing pleasure to be a measure of health. And boy, has it been the most freeing choice…
I trust that implementing some of these suggestions will help you transform your relationship with food and your body. Food is so powerful. It forms not only our physical bodies but also contributes to our thoughts, emotions and feelings. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Meaning, I eat dessert pretty much every day! Yep, you heard me. My weight hasn’t changed in the past 8 years (well, I don’t weigh myself anymore, but I just know. I know my body now… we are finally BFF!).
As an act of pleasure and self-love, I dare you to carve out the time and make this delicious healthy paleo apple blueberry pie… but make sure to eat it mindfully and share it with those you love…
Cook/Prep Time: 25 minutes
1.5 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 tbsp full fat cold coconut milk
2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
Mix all ingredients until well combined
Using fingers, press the dough into a 9-inch pie pan
Cover and freeze until ready to bake
PIE FILLING INGREDIENTS:
4-5 peeled and sliced apples
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
PIE FILLING INSTRUCTIONS:
Mix apples, blueberries, lemon juice, cinnamon and coconut oil in a large bowl.
In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut sugar and water until coconut sugar dissolves.
Mix in the coconut milk and simmer for 8 minutes while stirring.
Remove and pour over the caramel over the apples and blueberries. Set aside for now.
CRUMB TOPPING INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup almond or cashew flour
1.5 tbsp flax meal
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
2 tbsp coconut sugar, raw honey or maple syrup
1.5 tbsp melted coconut oil
1.5 tsp full-fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 handful chopped walnuts
CRUMB TOPPING INSTRUCTIONS:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl using your hands!
HOW TO MAKE THE PIE COME TO LIFE:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place pie filling over the cold crust and sprinkle the crumb topping over the filling.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325 degrees F, cover pie with foil and bake for another 35-40 minutes.
Wishing you a nourishing holiday season!🥧