One memory from my childhood sticks out to me still now, even though I’m over a decade older: When I was around 8 years old, I went to an Asian restaurant where the chef cooks your food right in front of you. As he handed our food to us, I mentioned I was "on a diet".
I’ve struggled with food, my body image, and my weight for a large part of my life. I’ve judged the shape of my thighs and compared my body to other people’s. I’ve felt guilty for eating certain foods I thought were 'bad'. I’ve restricted, binged and purged. I’ve let weight fluctuations and food choices consume my life.
I thought I was in control, but I wasn’t. I thought I was making myself happier, but I wasn’t.
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In fact, those years were probably the unhappiest of my life.
When we let food and weight consume such a large part of our lives, it’s hard to leave room for any of the good that life has to offer. Something that doesn’t truly matter or determine who we are begins to dominate and rule us.
When I got to university, and started to learn more about health, I realised just how many misconceptions I’d held onto for my entire life and how negatively they impacted me. I realised a life filled with freedom, gratefulness, and excitement was possible, and I could love myself and feel better at higher weights while eating foods I'd labelled 'bad' in the past.
I learned a lot of lessons that truly changed my outlook, my beliefs, my passions, and my life. When I look back and think of my younger self, I hurt for her. She lost out on so much because she didn’t know those truths.
I want to share them in the hopes they help others who need to hear them as much as I did. I also want to share these truths because I know even those of us who know them could benefit from a reminder.
If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell her the following.
1. Even intuitive eating and 'eating in moderation' can be diet-like, so be careful and self-compassionate.
Dietitian Christy Harrison wrote an important article about the myths surrounding “intuitive eating,” a recent buzzword. One tenet of intuitive eating is listening to your hunger and fullness cues.