(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!

(155) F*ck off diet culture.

Diet culture is literally everywhere: in safe spaces, sacred spaces, and progressive spaces. How do you break up with diets when the world celebrates their worth and demands their adherence? Listen to the latest Love Food podcast episode to give you mojo as you radically reconnect with your body.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

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,

I am not sure if you and I can ever have a peaceful relationship. Lately, I am exhausted with recovery and the daily struggles of trying to eat intuitively, feeling like I am failing, and wanting to change my body. It feels like there is too much stress in my life that I do not have any energy left to try to go against the mainstream’s ideas on food and dieting that on bad days I wish that I had never heard of intuitive eating and embarked on this journey.
I realized that we had a complicated relationship after reading Intuitive Eating for the first time. I bought it on a whim, looking for an end to the food and exercise tracking madness, but still desperately wanting to change my body. I wanted to teach myself the “right” way to eat. I thought I was doing well, eating intuitively, and generally feeling at peace. This was until it was pointed out to me that I was following the “intuitive eating” diet, and this realization launched a pretty steep decline in my recovery. I know that the behaviors I had were not healthy and that at one time I realized that I needed help with them. But since I am not able to separate Intuitive Eating with the “intuitive eating” diet, I am so confused and apprehensive to try to re-learn it. Was everything I had learned the last 3 years completely wrong and how could I have missed the mark so much? Part of me wants recovery and the other part of me knows it will continue to be very challenging and I do not feel like I have it in me to stay on this path. I don’t think I can go back to how I was before, but I continue to be in what feels like a half-recovered space. Working through my disordered food behaviors illuminated that I have a lot of personal trauma and feelings that I was using disordered behaviors to cover up and deal with. As I work through those, I notice the disordered food behaviors creeping back in like an old friend, wanting to help me cope.
I realize diet culture is everywhere. And because it is everywhere, I feel exhausted by constantly defending my position to people and not giving in to the allure of what I know now to be another diet. My extended family gatherings that involve food consist of comments about amounts of food, “good/bad” food, needing to “work off” the food, or some special ingredient that will save us all from disease. Yoga has been a refuge but walking into the studio I might read a flyer for a weight loss cleanse, overhear conversations about diets, hear body negativity from other yogis and even some of the teachers. I attended a yoga teacher training informational session, thinking it would be a good challenge for myself to take my yoga practice to a new level and left feeling completely defeated after learning that one of the training modules was around “how to eat like a yogi”. Sharing my own baked treats with co-workers inevitably invites a litany of body and diet comments as well as their own personal justifications for eating or not eating the food I brought. I created an Instagram account for my dog because I thought it would be a fun way to share the funny things he does. Do you know how much diet culture permeates instagrams about dogs? A lot. I cannot shut off the continuous diet culture that is everywhere in my life. Something has to change.
Perhaps I am not fully on board with Intuitive Eating and HAES and that there are still pieces of diet culture I am hanging on to. All I know right now, food, is that I am mad. I am mad that I know that my food behaviors aren’t healthy for me but that I want to keep doing them because it felt like I was in control. I have so much shame for having this problem at all that I can hardly admit it to myself. I justify this by fully embracing that I hate my body and that, of course, then the disordered eating makes sense. I am so tired of starting over with different therapists, finding yet another book that I put my salvation into, hoping that, yes, maybe this one will click and I will magically love my body and I will become a true Intuitive Eater. Will I ever feel normal around you, food? Will I ever want to take care of my body instead of punishing myself for making a mistake at work, getting into an argument with a loved one, or accidentally reading a diet message on a magazine cover and feeling self-loathing? Can I enjoy you, food, without feeling an intense desire to want to exercise or restrict later? Can I trust you, food, knowing that my IBS may cause days or weeks of intense intestinal pain and fear of you, food? Will I be able to go to my doctor and not be completely obsessed for weeks after accidentally seeing my weight (and shame for feeling good that it was lower than what I thought)? It all feels too much, and I feel entirely un-grounded. I realize that this letter is even contradictory, stating that I wish I could have my old food behaviors back and also knowing that I have learned and made progress. I am just not sure, food, that I am on the right path, or even what the right path is.
Sincerely,
Wanting to Check Out

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!

(154) How do I stop wanting to lose weight?

Along your Food Peace™ journey you may have connected with how you were raised around food and how to treat your body. Did you learn early on that only thin bodies were acceptable? That we MUST diet in order to keep our weight low and letting go was a failure? Not surprising then that the desire to lose weight will continue. How do you stop wanting to lose weight? How do you accept your body? Listen now to the latest Love Food podcast episode for insight along this part of your journey.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

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,
I’ve been struggling with you for almost my entire life.  When I was little I remember watching my Dad go on diet after diet and rigidly refusing to go up a pant size.  It looked so miserable but I also wanted to be like him.  I also knew (from what my parents had told me) that I was getting fat.  So when I was 8, I went on my first diet and began counting calories.  Later, around age 15, I began to reject dieting and wanted to relax and eat what I wanted.  This made my parents uncomfortable and eventually they began to mandate that I diet and exercise.  I began to sneak you up to my bedroom and eat you in the middle of the night.  I was riddled with shame, guilt, and self-hatred.  Even when I was outside of my parent’s control, I carried their voices of judgment with me and continued dieting throughout most of my adult life.
Now I’m 31 and I’ve tried so hard to redefine my relationship with you and my body.  I’ve seen a counselor and nutritionist who come from an intuitive eating approach.  I was fortunate enough to be part of a 10-week intuitive eating group and I loved it!  But a job change caused me to move away from those resources and now I feel stuck.  I’m heavier than I’ve ever been in my entire life and I’m so ashamed of my body.  I don’t even recognize myself when I look in the mirror.  While the dream of being smaller is still tempting, the thought of dieting repulses me.  I know dieting isn’t the answer, but I can’t seem to get the hang of intuitive eating.  I feel like I’m making zero progress on my journey to food peace.
Often I still feel like that rebellious teenager who would overeat (whether it made her feel good or not) just to spite her parents.  I still want to lose weight but I know that intuitive eating isn’t suppose to be about that.  How do I stop the incessant desire to be smaller when it’s been a part of my life for so long?
I’m also feeling scared because sometimes listening to my body and choosing to stop eating when I’m full/satisfied or not eat something because my inner wisdom is telling me that I don’t truly want it reminds me of the rules and restrictions I lived under for so long.  Intellectually I know that responding to my body and inner wisdom is different than dieting.  But emotionally they sometimes feel the same.  Eventually I end up still engaging in rebellious eating even though I’m not sure what/who I’m rebelling against.  Then I feel like I’ve fallen off track and give up and shame takes over.  I know this is a diet mentality but I can’t seem to shake it!  I’m not sure how to interrupt this cycle and stop thinking of intuitive eating through this dieting lens.  I want to move forward in my food and body peace journey but I’m not sure how to get past this hurtle.  I just want to find peace with you and my body but I’m not sure what the next step should be.
Love,
Stuck In The Cycle

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!

(133) I am embarrassed I still struggle with food.

How long have you struggled with eating? Do you remember when it first got complicated? What if you have struggled your whole life after years of abuse, shame and fear? Is there a way to heal in our current diet focused and fatphobic world? Listen now for possible tools to promote your Food Peace journey.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

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,
Dear oh dear food, you have been the bane of my existence since I was born. I started
with diary allergies that took time to diagnose so from a newborn, my food relationship
has been difficult. That difficulty has morphed into many different things, anxiety
soothing with food, fear of food, restriction, bulimia, anorexia, binge eating and so on.
I’ve struggled to understand you.

When I was young, about six years old, my life changed a lot because of an abusive
homelife, then at seven, it turned to shear torture due to physical and sexual abuse. I
coped by stealing food (at home, other people’s houses, stores and so on), hiding and
eating it. I learned to eat until sick, then purge to make myself feel better so I could eat
some more. One very traumatizing event, I remember hiding multiple PB&Js behind the
trashcan in the cabinet for later and once the event was over, I hid where I thought I
belonged, behind the trash and ate them all, at seven years old… The trauma (really
torture) went on and on and I ate and ate, and I gained and gained. I was also tortured
in school for my weight and lack of social skills. Through all of this, I was caring for my
younger sister since no one taking care of either of us and was also caring for my
parents who could not care for themselves.

As I grew into a teenager my body started to change, but it was changing differently
from others. I didn’t know at the time that it was PCOS at the time, but it was. I was
growing hair on my face, I started shaving my face at about 12 or 13, my body shape
was different, and my weight was going up at what I was told an alarming rate. By 6 th
grade, I was “obese”. Once the torture stopped at home (not in my mind), I was 20, I
kept on eating, doctors kept telling me to lose weight, my mother kept telling me how
terrible I looked, and others would tell me “you would have such a pretty face and eyes,
if you’d just lose some weight…” I kept eating and purging. I had two stays in a mental
health facility and they tried to work on my relationship with food, but that was not the
major reason I was inpatient, there was a much more intense reason I was there. They
tried but I was not ready.

Eleven years ago, at 28, after trying to conceive for about a year, I was diagnosed with
PCOS. It took us three years to conceive the first time which ended as an early loss. I
had six more losses and then no other pregnancies. I ate through all the losses and was
told, had I not been so fat, I would not have gotten PCOS and would also be able to get and stay pregnant by a doctor. I ate some more until I didn’t. I started restricting about
six years ago and lost a very significant amount of weight. I was restricting so much I
would pass out due an inability to my keep my blood pressure high enough and could
not keep my body temperature stable to the point where I wore winter clothes in the
summer. I kept this going for two years then the binging started again. I was never able
to get my weight low enough to alert any doctors of an eating disorder, but I would
guess that is from the PCOS.

I have since been working with a wonderful therapist for seven years and an amazing
eating disorder and HAES registered dietician for almost two years. I still struggle to this
day with the thoughts that go along with an eating disorder. Dear, oh dear Food, will I
ever “get” you? Will I ever “understand” you? I know none of this is about you, but it is
just a way to cope and control one small part of my life when I was unable to control
anything but morphed to lack of control around you. I want a relationship with you Food,
but, it is oh so embarrassingly hard. I do have hope Food, that someday, there will be
calmness and no charge between you and I. Someday I can enjoy you…
Love,
Frustrated but Hopeful

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!

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!

(123) My past trauma keeps me bingeing (with Amy Pershing)

Have you been been making steps towards body acceptance, but find yourself stuck when it comes to letting go of certain eating behaviors? Perhaps, you are one of many of those with an eating disorder who has suffered from trauma? Listen to this week’s episode with special guest Amy Pershing as she helps guide listeners along their recovery journey so that they can begin their healing process from trauma.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my online course, Your Step-by-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace™. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

Check out the Love, Food Podcast store. All T-Shirt designs have at least one with size range options from XS to 5X. All proceeds go to funding this labor of love to keep it as a free resource for you.

Product links may be affiliate. If you click and make a purchase, there’s no extra cost to you.

The transcribed episode can be found here.

Episode’s Key Points:

*Content Warning: discussion of sexual abuse

  • Special guest Amy Pershing, licensed clinical social worker and founder of the Body Wise binge eating disorder recovery program and the Hunger Wise program as well as author of Binge Eating Disorder-The Journey to Recovery and Beyond.
  • Many individuals who experience eating disorders have a history of trauma.
  • Our culture has not recovered from its own eating disorder. When we are capable of making some steps forward in our culture’s recovery from its eating disorder (and acceptance of all bodies), we can begin creating space to process our individual trauma so that healing can happen.
  • Trauma, particularly sexual trauma, makes an individual feel as though their physical being is not okay.
  • We must begin challenging cultural narratives that perpetuate body hate/fat phobia, such as that an individual’s size predicts their health (spoiler alert: NOT true), in order to allow this trauma work to be able to take place.
  • Additionally, filter your environment/social media: “If an image makes you feel bad, don’t consume it.” ~Amy Pershing
  • Healing from an eating disorder includes honoring what the eating disorder/food behaviors has done for an individual’s survival as well as adding tools, in addition to food, to one’s toolbox for coping.

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!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.