(244) Letting go of diets and food control with Daph Levy

Julie Dillon

(244) Letting go of diets and food control with Daph Levy

How many of you have moved from controlling food to letting it be? What if controlling food was a part of your life’s work–literally AND figuratively? This latest Love Food Podcast is a bit different. We get to hear from Daph Levy (she/they) an anti-diet eating-disorder recovery mentor, fat activist, and video media producer based in Boston, MA. They submitted a Dear Food letter and Julie invited them on to explore next steps. Listen to hear Daph’s words of support and wisdom!

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Dear Food,

I don’t even know where to start. We have a such complicated relationship. Some words that come to mind that accurately describe our relationship are tumultuous, chaotic, and intense. I cannot think back to a time where you were just you. It feels like we have always had a toxic relationship, especially when others tried to manipulate the way we view each other. I remember when a relative would feed me a delicious homemade meal, only for a moment where I could sneak in a few bites before they snatched the plate away from me.

There were points in my life when you were all I had; I turned to you for comfort and joy, especially when it felt like my life was crumbling all around me. Other times, I was so obsessed with exerting control over you. I would spend hours tracking you, following you, measuring out every individual portion I allowed myself to have each day. I was obsessed with you- but I am sure you already knew that. I thought, the more control I have over you, the more worthy, lovable, and happier I would become. I had it all wrong.

These days, our relationship is distant- I am keeping you at arm’s length as I navigate trusting you again. ****You no longer occupy my mind like you once did. You no longer dictate my worth, because I don’t let you. I am in the process of reclaiming my power, which means letting go of the control I had over you. Even when I invested everything I had- my money, time, and energy- into controlling you, it didn’t make me happy. I did everything everyone told me to do, and yet, I felt miserable. You disappointed me. I spent most of my life fearing you and neglecting you, because that is what I was taught was best for my “health.” Little did I know, I was developing a severe eating disorder; although you wouldn’t know it since everyone around me applauded my “discipline” and “willpower.”

I find it ironic that I studied the very thing that I now try desperately to avoid thinking about. I cannot believe that I once thought my life’s purpose was to exert control over you to maintain some arbitrary number on a scale, to eat as few calories as I possibly could, and to become smaller- in more ways than one. It makes me deeply sad thinking that I wanted to help others do the same- develop an exhausting, chaotic, and toxic relationship with you, in hopes to shrink their body.

Letting go of the control I had was one of the hardest and scariest decisions I have ever made. Who would have thought that letting my body be would be the healthiest thing I could have done for myself. Yet, I find myself grieving you, and the toxic relationship we once had. But I want you to know it’s not your fault, it never was.

The way diet culture tries to lure me into its grasp with its messaging is so enticing. Messages like “eat this, guilt free”, “nobody likes a girl who can eat” or “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” or “you need to earn your food” are the ingredients for a disordered relationship with you.

But I have to confess something to you. I don’t want to be enemies, in fact, I want to be life-long companions, making new memories that someday I can reflect back on and think “oh, that was a good day.” I may not have all of the answers to our problems, but I promise I am working on it. I am not ready to give up on this relationship, no matter how complicated it is, because the truth is, I need you.


Can we be friends?


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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