I have the wonderful Erin Williams here to share her story with food and her body and how she healed with the power of self-trust, self-love, and listening to her body.
It has taken me almost 10 years to realise that I am worth than constantly chasing a number on a scale. That my time should be spent on better things than constantly thinking about what I was or wasn't eating, or how much exercise I was or wasn't doing.
I can't pin point an exact moment where I started to think that my body was something that needed improving, but from the age of 16, it was the first thing I would think about when I woke up and the last thing I would think about when I went to sleep. I even used to have nightmares about binge eating. I can remember waking up and being so scared that what I had just happened in my dream had actually happened.
My struggle with food has fallen on all ends of the spectrum of disordered eating habits.
I have counted and restricted calories. I starved myself and only allowed myself one meal a day. I have eaten and eaten until I felt sick, and then continued eating. I had a few awfully draining months where one day I would eat virtually nothing and then next day I would eat everything in sight. It was a horrible cycle that was a real struggle to break.
I have always been a perfectionist and overly critical of myself. Over the years I have tried countless ways to lose weight. Even when I was at my lowest weight, I was never really happy with the number on the scale. That is one of the biggest problems with chasing a number. It can always be smaller.
I never trusted myself to know how much I should eat. I needed to weigh myself to make sure that I wasn't putting on weight. In 2010 I spent six months travelling through Europe and travelled with a set of scales in my suitcase.
Even when I stopped restricting what I was eating I still turned to food for comfort. I always turned to food when I had a bad day, when I was stressed and when the negative thoughts in my head became too much to bear.
This went on for years. I would binge and beat myself up about it. Over and over again. Guilt was a constant theme in my life.
When I started going to the shops on my way home, buying bags of junk food, and eating as much as I could during the 10 minute walk home I realised that I had a problem. I realised that what I was doing shouldn’t really be called eating. I was just shoving food in my face and I wasn’t even enjoying it.
So, how did I start to heal?
I finally learnt to trust myself. To love myself. I learnt to listen to my body.
For years and years my body was crying out for nourishment and yet I never listened. I stifled my bodies cries under mountains of junk food.
I started practicing yoga and it was through my asana practice that I started to realise that I was enough, that I didn’t need to try to change my body. I then also started meditating and learnt that my body and mind could work together.
I started to realise that the decisions I made about food were always made out of fear. I was afraid of not being good enough, of not being thin enough, or not living up to people's high expectations. I turned to food for comfort, to mask these fears so that I wouldn’t have to admit them to myself. I always use to binge in secret because I didn’t want people to see how ‘weak’ I was or how I couldn’t stick to my diet.
Once I started to realise that I was enough it a huge turning point in my life.
I was able to start healing and living my life. I was able to start to make decisions about food from a place of love, rather than fear. I was able to stop dieting and stop trying to change my body.
For me eating from a place of love means no more rules, no more restrictions.
I don’t deny myself anything or think of food as being inherently good or bad. I eat mindfully these days. I listen to what my body is truly hungry for, so my mind and body feel connected. I taste and savour every mouthful, which is so different from my binging days when I would barely taste or chew the food I was eating.
It wasn’t always easy and it took a lot of work. I still have days where I have the urge to dive face first into a block of chocolate, followed by a tub of ice cream, but most of the time I can talk myself out of this. When this happens I instead find other ways to feel comforted. I might journal, have a bath, go for a run, or just have a good cry. I now know that the urge to binge means that I have an emotion that I need to work through, and I need to spend time with this feeling rather than pushing it down through food.
I’m so glad that I took the time to sort out the underlying issues of my relationship with food and my body.
Now, my life is fantastic. I can experience things, think things and feel things that I would never have been able to if I was still caught up in the battle between my mind and my body.
I now longer feel like food has control over me. I no longer have a constant stream of negative self talk running through my head. I no longer weigh myself and I encourage any one struggling with food and their self image to ditch their scales.
I accept and love myself. I feel liberated, more passionate and alive.
I want to help other people realise how amazing their lives can be when they start acting out of love rather than fear, which is why I started my own blog recently. To encourage women to ditch the diet, ditch the scales and to start to love themselves.
What a beautiful story! I can so relate to living from love when making decisions rather than fear. It really makes nourishment and health so much easier and enjoyable.
I'd love to know in the comments below:
- Do you eat from a place of love?
- What is ONE thing you can start doing to nourish yourself with love, not fear?