Eating disorder awareness week – Love yourself

As far as I remember, I have been struggling with eating disorders. There has never been a time when I was comfortable with my body image and my relationship with food has always been problematic. People think than only bulimia or anorexia are classified as eating disorders. This is incorrect! According to the NHS (National Health Service in the UK), eating disorder is an umbrella term that encompasses a series of conditions including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other illnesses do not fit into the definitions of those mentioned previously but are equally serious.

Again, people often associate eating disorders to starving yourself or purging after eating. There’s a lot more than this! In fact, typical symptoms of eating disorders are:

  • spending a lot of time worrying about your weight and body shape
  • avoiding socialising when you think food will be involved
  • a sense of shame after you eat
  • deliberately making yourself sick or taking laxatives after you eat
  • exercising too much as a way to punish your body for eating a lot
  • having very strict habits or routines around food
  • changes in your mood

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Of course, you don’t have to fit all these criteria to be diagnosed with having an eating disorder. Personally speaking, I tend to binge eat, feel ashamed after I eat too much food, I spend loads of time worrying about my body shape and how people judge me based on the way I look and I did use the gym as a way to punish my body for eating too much.

I rather not go through all the toxic stereotypes I was taught and brought up with, the idea that skinni is better and, apparently, skinni is an added value for your persona (nonsense!). I just want to tell how I managed to move away from that toxic mindset and started feeling better about myself and my body for the first time ever in my life. More about this can be found in an old article “How I keep my eating disorders under control!”

Weight loss and wellbeing is much more than the trash you get from insta scam influencers or ill-informed advice on magazines.

First of all, if you are struggling with your body image and you think that you are too big, let me tell you that the formula “move more + eat less” does not work. Eating disorders are medical conditions very often associated with emotional pains, childhood trauma or any other traumatic event in one’s life. Personally speaking, over the past few years, I did an insane amount of work to fix my mental health. I had countless therapy sessions and I did counselling to treat my eating disorders last summer. I got to understand that the drive of my emotional eating was loneliness. This means that I tend to eat/overeat when I feel lonely to feel better. I recognise my triggers now.
Additionally, the formula “eat less, move more” is also rather ignorant because it doesn’t take into account that loads of people don’t have the tools to understand nutrition. The term food desert means that in some areas people have to travel up to 40/50 km to do groceries shopping. If you don’t have the time to get there frequently, then you just rely on the easiest option = fast food like McDonald. Eat less, move more doesn’t account for the fact that, in the country where I live, a bag of doughnuts costs 75p and a bowl of salad 3£.

I am one of the lucky people who got to study nutrition and food metabolism, I have the money to pay therapy and I have access to fresh fruits and veg.

I want to finish off with the way I changed my mindset about my body shape. I used to look at myself in the mirror when I was much smaller and my body weight was around 60 kg. I didn’t like myself, my legs were too big, my belly was fatty, that fancy top didn’t suit me as nicely as I would have liked to. I am heavier now and guess what? I look at myself in the mirror and have the same thoughts. I just realised that there wasn’t and will never be a time when I look at myself in the mirror and say “I like the way I look!” and after that moment of epiphany, I just stopped caring about the way I look at all!

Plus, I realised that all this body image distortion was really all in my mind. People barely noticed that I gained weight. When I tell friends that I gained weight everyone is like “I can’t really tell” or “I just noticed because you told me!”. And when I go out on dates and I tell the other person I don’t feel confident with my body shape anymore everyone is like “I don’t see fat, I only see curves!”. Nor that it’s relevant, just wanted to say that, very often, the way we perceive our body has nothing to do with how people see us, but rather how we see ourselves!

Stay cool guys!