(208) I can’t stop comparing myself to others (with Renee Hamati)

What is it like to eat with others on your Food Peace™ journey? How do you experience the body talk or exercise or where to go to lunch? Do you find yourself comparing yourself to other people and feeling like a failure in contrast? Is this keeping you stuck? Let’s discuss in this week’s Love Food Podcast with guest Renee Hamati @SensiblyYou on Instagram.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

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This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

I have struggled to write this letter for a while now as I couldn’t really think of a good way to organize what went all wrong over the past couple of years.

You and I are definitely on better terms by now and I am glad about that. Yet more often than I want to, my past keeps creeping up the back of my head again. 

Let me take you back a little, to a time when food had been effortless and easy, enjoyable and pleasurable. I remember that I have always loved you and didn’t really think of any part of you as good or bad. I loved chocolate as much as I loved my broccoli. I had no hard time stopping whenever I was full nor did I give myself a hard time when I overate on occasion. I just shrugged it off and moved on. 

I have always been slim since I was a kid and to be honest, I never worried about how my body looked. I loved it for being able to move, to dance, to breathe. 

For a little further explanation of the following let me tell you that I have 2 sisters. A twin and an older sister. 

We spent much time together as 3 even though my older sister has always been busy with being a good student. Nonetheless we had a good relationship … until over time she grew distant and cold, irritated for seemingly no reason. We noticed her eating behavior changing. Long story short, everything ended with her being so deep into Anorexia that she had to be force-fed in the recovery clinic. Even after her stay in the clinic, she struggled for years and her eating behavior did not change as much with the difference of her maintaining a weight that wouldn’t get her medical treatment again. 

I thought this time had been shocking enough to our family and really tore a hole that lingered like a dark cloud and you should know better but then I noticed my twin starting with a similar eating behavior. She developed a fully grown bulimic disorder. Needless to say that this shook our family to the very core. The atmosphere was filled with distrust, control, unspoken fear and questions over questions. I started to ask myself how something so pleasurable and beautiful could have so much power over a human being, especially in the obvious face of the damage an eating disorder could cause. 

It has been years from now since my twin developed her eating disorder and even though things are not as extreme anymore in terms of purging, I often find her resorting to these old patterns whenever things are getting emotionally difficult and straining. She does not starve herself anymore but her control mechanisms shifted into quite an unhealthy relationship to workouts, tracking and rigid rules. 

This was by the time we started to go to University in the same city. I never really noticed that I had gained quite some weight until I saw her figure changing to a very lean and muscular build and me being rather curvy in comparison. Not that I cared by the time, I was still happy with myself but wanted to spend more time with her as she was elbows deep into working out and eating clean. So one of the only ways to reconnect with her was working out together. It worked! We spent much more time together and I also noticed myself changing in the process. It was nice to see my body getting leaner and I wanted to “support” the process by changing my – admittedly not very healthy – eating habits that came with university. 

I slowly became obsessed with calories, how many I could eat, how much I needed to work out, which foods were good and which foods weren’t. I felt so ashamed of myself when I discovered how seemingly “unhealthy” I had been eating when all I really did was enjoying good food whenever I wanted. 

I started to demonize certain foods, restricted and cut out sugars, junk-food and even eventually certain food groups like carbs. Hell, I was so afraid to have rice with any of my other foods because in my eyes it was way too calorific. 

I lost much weight until I was at my desired size but what price did I pay? 

I missed out on so much fun as I didn’t allow myself to indulge in delicious foods on social events, I annoyed everyone around me with my clean eating, it severely affected my relationship and friendships, took so much of my time and energy until I felt run-down and so so exhausted. 

I started to discover intuitive eating and was fascinated with it from the very beginning although it was hard for me to let go of my old diet behavior.

I now have a better relationship with you and occasionally feel like this could really work but then I see my sister (we live together) munching on her salad or not eating until 3 in the afternoon. I see her freaking out over not being able to go to the gym or doing heavy HIIT for hours because she allowed herself to enjoy a night out the night before. And suddenly the cookie in my hand feels like it would add up 100 pounds to my hips, just like I thought back then. She has a very muscular build by now and gets a ton of compliments for it and sometimes if I am honest I feel jealous of it and wonder if it is wrong to have a softer body. 

I really try to not let food dictate my life anymore but I cannot help myself when a disordered eating behavior is so very close to you, emotionally and physically. How can I manage to get rid of the little voice telling me that I am not beautiful if I am not muscular like her? How can I better set boundaries for myself in terms of her eating behavior and mine? How do I deal with the struggle of my body gaining weight and me still finding myself desiring to lose it again as I have always been slim and somehow cannot deal with the thought of gaining more.

I really wanna move away from food thoughts dictating my day and my still present diet mentality. I want to focus on loving myself and doing what I love. Still, it is so hard sometimes … 

Please help me reconnect with you in a healthy way.

Love, 

Confused and frustrated

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

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