I had a totally dysfunctional relationship with food for half my life: I restricted, I binged, I emotionally ate… I was completely disconnected from my body, its cues, its needs.
And for the longest time, I didn’t even realize my relationship with food was unhealthy! I really thought I was just trying to be healthy, and that sometimes I was ‘succeeding’ and other times I was ‘failing.’ It wasn’t until a friend described her Binge Eating Disorder to me that I realized I was actually acting out disordered eating patterns, and had been doing it since I could remember.
This realization was hugely impactful on me and on my health and wellness trajectory from then on, both personally and professionally. Before I had embraced the mentality that if I could simply follow a ‘plan’ and have enough willpower around food, everything would be fine – I would look the way I wanted to look, feel the way I wanted to feel, and finally be completely happy.
But that’s not actually how our bodies – or our lives – work, as much as the diet industry would have us believe it.
And as I dove further into the research about disordered eating, diet culture, different mentalities around food, I began to realize:
This was not only detrimental to our mental health patterns surrounding food and how that made us feel psychologically… it was actually completely counterproductive to having a healthy body too.
Throughout my time in my MPH at UM, I delved further into the research to find out how this societally prevalent, dysfunctional relationship with food was created over the past century, why so many health and prevention programs weren’t successful in the long term, and why more people than ever are suffering from autoimmune and digestive issues that have to do with lifestyle and eating patterns.
As I started learning more about this and becoming more vocal about my experience and how my perception of food and bodies was changing, I discovered that almost every single person I talked to had a very similar experience: we were all experiencing fear, anxiety, and disappointment – if not self-loathing – when it came to food and how we were eating.
I had thought I was one of a few, but it turns out, it’s so common that no one even thought it was problematic until someone laid out the patterns right in front of them.
This brings me to health coaching, which of course is what I do now.
Almost every single person I’ve talked to who wants to improve their health has a wonky relationship with food, to different degrees – even if they don’t realize it at first. So one of my missions as a health coach is to help people rehabilitate their relationship with food.
We can achieve our health goals from a place of respect and acceptance for our bodies and ourselves.
We don’t need to have fear and shame around our food choices, whether we’re ‘following the rules,’ how our bodies look, etc., in order to feel the best we’ve ever felt in our bodies.