(247) When you are afraid of letting go of the eating disorder, messy recovery, and Intuitive Eating with Katie Barbaro

Have you been doing the steps to move away from your eating disorder, trying to beat Diet Culture off with a stick, yet wonder if you will ever make it? Committed to recovery yet wonder if you’ll always be flailing? Pull up a chair and take a break. Katie Barbero, author of Fed Up: An Illustrated Guide to Food Freedom, has some insight. Listen here now.

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This episode of The Love Food Podcast is brought to you by Ovofolic–a new way trusted way to get Inositol to help with PCOS. 

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Dear Food,

Our love and hate relationship has been ebbing and flowing. It all started really innocently wanting to opt for “healthier options’ ‘ until it led me to an unhealthy place. A place where I feared you, a place where I felt guilty after eating you, and a place that took away all the pleasure and freedom around guilt.

I’ve been recovering from an eating disorder for almost 2 years now and although our relationship is relatively better, we could say that we are not in peace yet. Diet culture has made me believe that there are “bad” and “good” foods. That I should fear some of you. That some of you are evil. I really want to change that, I want to make peace with you.

I’m trying to unlearn all the lies and myth diet culture has taught me but it’s hard, you know?

I’ve been trying really hard to reject diets, the mentality of good and bad and surround myself with anti-diet, body positivity, and food freedom content. But I’m struggling to take action steps to have a better relationship with you. It’s easy to consume and motivate me with a lot of inspiring content but it’s overwhelming, you know? I mean… There are so many fear foods I need to face, unlearn diet myths, change my mentality around food, learn to brush off diet comments, relearn how to listen to my body and treat it with respect and so much more that I need to do… I don’t even know where to start. Also, I’m afraid, I feel alone and I am afraid of what will happen if I let go of control and food restriction.

I really want to have a better relationship but things like diet culture, fear of weight gain, or eating disorder thoughts get in the way?

I won’t give up food, I am positive I will get to a place where I no longer fear you but embrace you. I know I will get there one day,

This girl needs a little guidance!

Love,

Not Giving Up

Show Notes:

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

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(243) Searching for Eating Disorder Recovery Even When You Have For Years With Daralyse Lyons

How long have you been trying to recover from your eating disorder? This episode is for those of you have tried everything and wondering if recovery is even possible. When a complicated relationship with food includes trauma, loneliness, and pain recovery may seem out of reach. Listen to this latest Love Food Podcast episode with guest expert Daralyse Lyons. She’s an activist, actor, and advocate and host of the Demystifying Diversity Podcast.

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This episode of The Love Food Podcast is brought to you by my PCOS + Food Peace Course. It is 30% May 16-24th using coupon code ‘birthday’ at check out. Grab the details at PCOSandFoodPeace.com

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Dear Food,

I don’t really know exactly when my relationship became complicated with you, or quite how it came to control my life. I remember when I was in my early teens, being the one to say diets are bullshit, and not thinking about what I ate. Being anti-diet culture was practically a part of my identity, and such is where my values sit today, but I live in complete contradiction.

At some point in my teens, I started restricted and using my vegetarianism to always choose the salad option at school. But it wasn’t controlling, it wasn’t overwhelming; it felt more like a natural reaction to being at an all girls school in the society that we live in – an image-based thing. Sometimes, it was reactionary, in spite of my (well-meaning) mother who would always tell me that ‘soup is a starter not a meal’, and check if I was eating enough despite her smaller portions. (I later learned she had a struggled with anorexia for years, and would still struggle to eat in times of stress.)

I developed anxiety and depression by age 16, which ruled and ruined my sixth-form life. Perhaps it was the exam stress, the family troubles – growing up with a drug abusing brother who was in and out of school, in and out of home, in and out of hospital (not that I was always told straight away). We had a complex relationship with my father, who always vied for my brother’s attention and allegiance against my mother. I tried to be always neutral, always loving of all parties – because I was, and couldn’t not be. But with this came a lot of pain, a lot of confusion, and the earnest desire to always tread this precarious, and often punishing line.  Of course, when I couldn’t – and can’t today – there is guilt. I was a straight A* student until the slump during my sixth form years, when my energy broke, and I scraped my way through the last 2 years. I used to be, and still feel like I should be, the person who was able to succeed at anything and everything without dropping the ball – but suddenly I could do nothing, and have struggled ever since. Around this time I realised there was probably something wrong – a cause. Through an explosive conversation with my mother, I was pushed to a consultation with a therapist and given the diagnosis – anxiety and depression – but didn’t receive further help.

In my first year of uni I tried to access help myself, but was turned away by the uni counselling services after a few sessions, saying they didn’t know how to help me as I had already thought everything through so much myself. It was in this year I had a few episodes of bingeing and purging. This continued around occasional periods of stress, such as exams, but not as a regular method of coping.

In second year, my mental health worsened. Restricting, binging and purging became a secret indulgence, but never something I saw as a problem as it was so sporadic. I had difficult relationships with my flatmates, though I had stronger friendships elsewhere, I felt alone. I became so ill I had to defer my exams. I worked towards the summer session, hoping I could somehow manage. But two weeks before I was due to take them, I was raped.

Utterly broken, I moved back in with my parents for a few months, during which time I tried to use food to console myself while I tried to process what happened. But when a close family member was admitted to hospital with terminal cancer, I began majorly restricting. When they passed away and my family fell apart, I moved back to my uni town and started a new job, trying to get my life back on track. Pretty much all the friends I thought I had were no longer there for me. I managed to access CBT for 9 weeks, but developed bulimia in an dramatic way, binging and purging at least 3 times in a day, at one time losing X in a month. This continued through another exam deferral, and another.

I fought for a year to access treatment, being passed from waiting list to waiting list, rejected for being too symptomatic, too complicated or not fitting criteria. Along the way, I met someone who truly loves me and cares for men and helps me through these struggles. When I am with him, I eat normally and don’t purge, but will find myself in tears most evenings because of food. My weight is stable at a healthy BMI, but I am miserable in my skin, mentally exhausted, and absolutely terrified: of this relationship with food that dominates my life. I cannot have food around me and resist it, regardless of whether I am hungry – I am so anxious about when I might need to eat, that I am constantly aware of a hunger, and I cannot discern the emotional from the physical. I know I use bingeing and purging as both a means of occupying myself when I am alone, as an emotional control and as a form of self-harm. And what started as a tool has grown like a weed to something that I am constantly aware of, and bothers me even when I am happiest. I love to cook, and often cook with my boyfriend, but cannot enjoy a meal without resenting myself and being overwhelmed with frustration as a result.

In a month, I will finally be starting treatment (psychotherapy with a trauma focus), but I am worried about managing my relationship with food during this time, as I know it will be a gradual process, and not the focus of my treatment. Additional private treatment isn’t easily an option for me. I am also worried about the strain I place on my boyfriend, who is always there for me, but who cannot fight the battle for me, no matter how much he may want to try.

I am trying to keep the willpower to fight for myself, to maintain the relationships I have left and succeed in my final chance to pass these exams in just a few months. I desperately need peace with you food, so that I can have more energy to make peace elsewhere in my life.

Yours,

Terrified & pleading for a truce

Show Notes:

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

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(242) How do I handle weight gain on my Food Peace Journey with guest experts Ali Eberhardt and Hannah Robinson

Moving away from diets and its recovery often includes body changes. Unfortunately, Food Peace proof is often misinterpreted to mean weight loss. What if weight gain was/is how your body recovers from diet culture? What if anti-fat bias is blocking you from food freedom? Listen on ways through with guest experts Ali Eberhardt and Hannah Robinson from the Let’s Eat Cake Podcast.

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This episode of The Love Food Podcast is brought to you by my PCOS + Food Peace Course. Grab the details at PCOSandFoodPeace.com

Thank you for you supporting the Love Food Podcast!

Dear food,

We’ve had quite the rocky relationship, haven’t we? I used to loathe you and even hate myself for needing you in order to survive. I wished that I could just take a pill with all of the nutrients and vitamins I needed to keep me alive and never have to eat any food whatsoever. Many years of therapy, nutrition counseling, outpatient eating disorder programs, multiple residential treatment stays and most importantly, my own extremely hard work, have brought me to a completely different place. I no longer loathe you. I can now appreciate that you bring people together, that you help us celebrate different cultures and histories, and that you allow us to connect and make memories. But here’s the thing: I’m still scared of you. Not in the same way I was before, though. I’ve conquered all of my old fear foods and I’ve learned the difference between foods I’ve feared and foods I genuinely don’t enjoy. I don’t avoid you and I eat intuitively. I’m able to give my body what it needs, knowing that sometimes that’s a little more and sometimes it’s a little less. I “eat kale AND cake”, as a former dietitian of mine used to say (although I enjoy spinach much more than kale and ice cream more than cake, but that’s beside the point). It’s taken many years of agonizingly painful work to get to this place, and I’m finally able to recognize that and give myself the credit I deserve. So why am I still scared of you? To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m scared more of you or scared of what my body will do with you. I still don’t trust my body to handle you “correctly”.  My last treatment program (2 years ago) allowed me to complete an ideal step-down program, going from residential to full independence slowly and surely. I wish everyone had this privilege and will forever be grateful for the opportunities it gave me. I left confident that I could return to my “real life” and continue to eat intuitively, even when things got stressful, and that’s exactly what I did. My weight remained stable and in the range my team had estimated for me through my last two months of treatment and for some time after I discharged. I was doing well and was finally experiencing freedom regarding food. And then the unthinkable happened: I gained weight. My and my eating disorder’s worst nightmare came true. It wasn’t an alarming or unhealthy amount, but enough for my team to take notice and to necessitate buying new clothes. Shame enveloped every part of my being. I was and am still completely healthy and not in what others might perceive to be a large body, but it sure feels ginormous to me. It’s the heaviest I’ve ever been, and it came right on the heels of finally feeling free to eat intuitively. My eating disorder screams at me, “See?!? Intuitive eating leads to weight gain! You’ll always want to eat sweets and junk food and you’ll never want to eat enough vegetables! You’re fat and disgusting and should go back to going days without food”. I’m proud to say that I held strong and have remained stable in recovery to this day, but my confidence has taken a huge blow. Rationally I know that it could have nothing to do with you – it could be due to new stressors from starting graduate school, medication changes, or a variety of other things. But I can’t convince the rest of me of that. All I can see is the flashing neon sign in my head that says EATING INTUITIVELY = WEIGHT GAIN. Losing weight is constantly on my mind. I don’t want to go back to the unhealthy, underweight body I had before, but I desperately long for the healthy yet smaller body I had immediately following treatment. Food, you have hurt me deeply. Both you and my body have betrayed me. I trusted you and you let me down. Will I ever be able to trust you again? Will I ever be able to eat without second guessing myself and my body again? Will I ever live without fear of weight gain and the desire to lose weight? I really don’t know…

Sincerely,

Untrusting and betrayed 

Show Notes:

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

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(179) I was teased about my body and can’t get over it.

Do you remember when you learned that false truth that something is wrong with your body?? That is a trauma and makes recovering from dieting disorders and eating disorders so darn tough. Let’s rally together to make this cultural shift. Listen to the latest Love Food podcast to find out more.

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Looking for more Food Peace? Want to help support the Love Food Podcast? Check out my new After the Letters Project on Patreon. I have exclusive weekly mini-episodes for $29/month and other freebies. Find more at Patreon.com/LoveFoodPodcast

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.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear food, 

        My relationship with you has not always been like this. For the majority of my life, I loved you, but at the same time, I did not pay much attention to you. I ate what was on my plate, never denied a piece of cake, and never even thought of the idea of dieting. 
        But, as most nice things do, this eventually came to an end, thanks to a boy in my class. This boy said instead of strawberry shortcake, people should call me strawberry fatcake, and the entire class laughed. As you can imagine, eighth grade me was mortified, and I decided not to eat for three days. I realized this was not healthy, my mom ensured me that I was, in fact, not fat, and that if she was concerned about my health, she would take me to a doctor, so I eventually returned to my old ways. 
        Then, I entered my freshman year of high school, surrounded by girls I thought to be much more prettier and skinnier than me. So, around Christmas, with the help of lovely diet pages on instagram, I decided to lose weight. I cut down on calories slowly and slowly, and eventually decided that 800 was about my max intake per day. 
        Fast forward to July, 60 pounds lighter and a diagnosis of anorexia. And I just have to say, that recovery is the hardest thing in the world. I feel like I am always eating, and I am beyond scared to eat when I am not hungry or to gain weight. It is pretty miserable, food, and I just want to forget about you! 
        But, the real reason that I am writing you, is that I feel like there is no way I will ever enjoy you again. How will you not make me shake at the thought of you? What if I like you too much and get fat again? How will I eat the same food again and not get fat? My goodness, the list goes on! I just need your help food, I need to know you won’t hurt me again. 

Sincerely,

wanting but scared to recover

Show Notes:

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

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(157) I am terrified of my body changing (with Barbara Birsinger)

Are you ready to ditch diets…yet not ready? Does the thought of another diet seem intolerable yet so does losing control? Does it feel like you will be just letting yourself go??? Listen to the latest Love Food Podcast that dishes on just that with special guest Barbara Birsinger.

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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.

I want to share the work going on within Decolonizing Fitness. The person behind it, Ilya Parker, is a trans person of color Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He is a social justice advocate and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice.

He decided to merge his love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC; which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity. Check out www.decolonizingfitness.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear food,
You are so complicated. We used to have a good relationship. It wasn’t that long ago. At first it wasn’t even about you. Then I went through that period of incredible stress. I felt so lost and physically couldn’t eat you. I think that’s when the problem started. I lost some weight. That wasn’t a plan. I don’t know if it became a way to cope, to feel (or not feel), a way to control something, a way to become invisible.Now it is definitely intentional. I like the smallness. I’m so afraid to let go of that. I want health. I’m sure this is not full health. My brain knows it is time to heal. So many days I go to bed and promise that I can heal, that I won’t think about you and will just take care of my needs. But it doesn’t last long. I get scared and can’t eat you again.I know where to find all kinds of resources. I seek them out, I fill my head with all the reasons to heal. I want to be better. But I’m terrified. I am terrified of admitting to anyone what’s going on. I am terrified of the body changes. I am terrified that some people will think I let myself go. I feel at the same time so ready for change and health but not ready to take the hard steps. How can I convince myself that it is time?Yours,
Ready, Not Ready

Show Notes:

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

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!