For years and years I struggled and I finally found an approach to food that serves my mind and my body.
My first year of college I developed and eating disorder
When I got to my dorm to move in, the grounds were very quiet. I was there weeks before the rest of my college classmates for volleyball pre-season. Weeks of two a day practices, lifting, ice baths, and a crash course on how to be a student athlete. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be ripped, strong, and so fit a few months into college and my collegiate volleyball career, but instead I gained weight, I wasn’t doing great in school, and I was overwhelmed, but not admitting it or seeking help. Change is hard and I wasn’t dealing with that transition well. Within the year I developed an eating disorder.
For years I haven’t talked about my eating disorder because I was embarrassed, but I’m slowly starting to
I haven’t spoken publicly about this very often. For a long time I was in denial that I had an eating disorder even though I was harming my body. I was so deep into it, I didn’t realize my disorder was a disorder. I thought I was healthy. I liked how I looked. And I didn’t see that there was a problem. But there was, physically and mentally. I also haven’t talked about it much because I was incredibly embarrassed and ashamed that I had an eating disorder for many many years. It feels like a weakness. A failure. It feels like a vain thing that I got caught up it. But I know now. A decade later. That there were a lot of factors that led me to that eating disorder and I am so incredibly proud to say that I dug myself out of that. It took years. And today, I have the best relationship I have ever had with my body and with food.
Today, I practice what I like to call “intuitive-ish eating”. I would call it intuitive eating, but I think the intuitive eating police would come hunt me down because true intuitive eating is listening exactly to what your body says it wants and needs and responding to that, no matter what. It’s the anti-diet. What I do is slightly modified and it works for me. I use intuitive eating principles — I believe that I should eat what sounds good and I believe that I should eat when I’m hungry and not eat when I’m not hungry — but sometimes intuitive eating can be intimidating because there is no control, order, or structure (all things I LOVE). Maybe I’ll get there one day, but for now I use a tool to help me mentally organize what I eat and not get pulled back into any sort of disordered eating. This tool is what I use to dismantle the push back my body and mind give me from time to time when it comes to eating intuitively.
The 80/20 rule is one of my favorite mental tools
My go to tool is the 80/20 rule. Some call this a diet, which I get because it’s literally a rule. And it probably is a diet for some people, but that’s not how I use it. I use it to snap myself out of any food overthinking dialogue in my head. I use it to help remind myself that it’s ok to eat the ice cream when I hear myself thinking “you had that last night, do you really need it?” or anything else with judgement. The 80/20 can be applied an interpreted a few different ways, but in this scenario, I’m saying that about 80% of what I eat should be nourishing (I try to avoid the use of “healthy”, but that’s what I mean here) and 20% can be whatever the heck I want.
Maybe one day I won’t need the 80/20 rule, but right now it’s only serving me. I don’t literally write out everything I eat to make sure it’s 80/20. But thinking “80/20” in the moment helps me move past the hesitation to eat what feels right and just do it — whether the food that feels right is a spinach salad or a spoonful of Nutella. (Yes, hesitation can appear when I want to eat something indulgent and when I want to eat something nourishing. It’s complicated!)
Thinking 80/20 helps me move past the hesitation to eat what feels right and just go it!
If you’re struggling with any sort of disordered eating or you have baggage from previous disordered eating that still comes up, I get it. While infrequent now, all of those old thoughts still come up. Please know that it took me years and years of working through my disorder, and I failed so many times, but I just kept trying to work through it. It was hard and sometimes I felt like I wasn’t making progress, but I was simply because I was willing to show up and try. If I fell back into old habits, I didn’t let myself stay there for long, which is so important. Keep going. My form of intuitive eating (like I to call it intuitive-ish eating) has freed me from the food rules that were dug deep into my life and the years of struggle that I went through. Intuitive-ish eating is a form of self-care and self-love for me.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Everything in this blog is my opinion. Please contact a medical professional if you are dealing with an eating disorder and need help.