All my life, I’ve had a slightly unhealthy relationship with food. It wasn’t the quality, but yet the quantity and the [lack of] calories. I have always been the pro-healthy food type of person; introducing healthier choices to my loved ones and even kept my family on a no-processed-sugar diet the first five years of my kids’ life. I even have a healthy concept of portion sizes, but yet, there’s a struggle deeper that I never really understood that I have. I struggle with depression, this I knew, but my sense of not being worthy was carrying over to my diet. Many days I’d make breakfast and lunch for my toddlers, but neglect to make a third plate for myself.
“I’ll eat later” or “I’ll eat something else,” I’d tell myself and even the kids when they started to ask.
Keeping preoccupied with them and the housework around me, it would be nap time before I’d even realize I haven’t eaten anything for the day. “Well, I don’t need to dirty a dish on my account. I’ll start on a great dinner and just eat in a bit. I’m not even that hungry.” This is what I would tell myself every day. I would emotionally feel like it was a waste for me to eat food because my husband could take it for lunch or my kids would need a snack. I would just make endless excuses, all going back to the fact that I’m not in need and I don’t deserve it.
Then dinner time would roll around, and I’d eat and could not stop.
The feeling of hunger never really came, but yet that empty feeling (as if this was my last meal) would overtake my body. I was starving myself through restriction and then binge eating. This cycle was so normal to me that I never could think of it as “unhealthy” or an “eating disorder.” Yet, years have gone by of this cycle and I’ve realized reoccurring health issues.
The type of issues that doctors just assumed had to do with me being overweight or a hormonal change since my kids. My adult acne has been embarrassing, my weight has never gone down since the kids (no matter how much or what type of exercise/food was taken in), and my mind seemed at a constant state of being spaced (something I blamed on “mom brain”). My menstrual cycles had almost stopped too; lasting as long as one day some months and not even coming on others.
Suggestions came from every angle. “You should do more cardio.” “It’d be interesting to see the calories your ingesting, it’s probably more than you think.” “This is normal after kids, your body is just a woman’s now.” I had become frustrated with my body and once again feeling inadequate. Why is my body not performing how it needs to? It’s not like I’m overloading it. I try to give it enough and I know I eat healthy/exercise enough. Never once did someone look at the habits of my diet and tell me that the “when” was impacting me just as much as the “how much.” Desperate, I listened to my doctor and started the dreaded task of counting my calories.
I hear how hard it is from others and honestly, the task seemed daunting. I just wanted to naturally be okay again without tracking or taking anything. Yet, I started to keep a journal (one of the “healthy new me” ones from Amazon). It tracked my sleep, my water intake, my meals and snacks. Within a few days of just journaling my habits, I saw the unhealthy pattern and realized just where my flaws where. I was only taking in 300-800 calories a day (almost completely at dinner time), fasting until dinner the next day, running on five hours of sleep, and drinking about 8 fluid ounces of water a day.
I did this to myself.
I deprived my body of the nutrients it needs to properly function and so it began to go into an emergency mode. Storing my fats and water in an attempt to not run out, leaving me feeling more bloated. Depleting my energy and not allowing my metabolism, my reproductive organs, immune system, or even my mind to work how it should. Just because I ate less, did not make me better.
Through this discovery, I decided to stick with this counting calories method. It was a struggle to retrain my body, but I can already feel a difference. With more water, I can feel the crisp refreshing feeling of my skin feeling hydrated. My acne has almost disappeared and my head doesn’t hurt as much (something I didn’t realize was even occurring until I started to drink more). With making sure I get from 300-450 calories a meal and two snacks of 75 calories, my body feels more energized. My period lasted for 3 days! And my weight you ask? I’m down four pounds and it’s only been eight days. I have even started to get hunger cues again. I haven’t heard my stomach growl in so long and it was incredibly welcoming!
I have a long way to go still and if I don’t track, then I slip into that restrict and binge state instantly again. It’s just not natural for me 100% yet, but nothing is until you get in a good routine. I strongly think that my ability to be self-aware and my own advocate has led me to find these solutions for my health. It hurts that I’ve had to go through years of people normalizing an eating disorder or not trusting me when I’ve told them that something was wrong. Even now, people assume because I’m a larger woman and counting calories that it is because I’ve been consuming too much for too long.
If you do not feel like your body is responding how it should, please don’t neglect yourself! Explore that further and gain that knowledge to better yourself, because no one else will. Eating disorders are real and really take a toll on your overall health. It’s not all about just throwing up what you eat and starving yourself. It’s all about how you think and treat yourself in association with your food.
You deserve it; the food, the rest, the happiness, and health. You deserve it all, momma!