White Elephant in the Room
Let's talk about the WHITE ELEPHANT in the room.
There's a topic no one wants to discuss, mostly because there is so much personal shame and embarrassment around it, it gets avoided at all costs. So let me start by saying those dreaded words: I have an Eating Disorder. I do. Well, I did. Kinda.
I have suffered from disordered eating my entire life, since I was 14 years old in high-school, right up until this very moment. It has been a long road, a lifetime really, but I am happy to say I have stopped the dangerous aspects of disordered eating years ago; the binge eating and starvation cycle, the excessive exercise and living off gummy bears and rice cakes. I consider myself 'normal' with a few teeny quirks left to remind me of the delicate balancing act between addictive behaviours and healthy habits. It's like any addiction, you are truly never 'cured', but rather in a state of recovery...for a lifetime. Sounds daunting I know, but it's not that bad.
I still find myself reaching for food when I am emotionally triggered or stressed out ..but instead of an entire chocolate cake, bag of chips and a box of donuts, I'll have an extra protein bar or some popcorn, or I'll go for a hike, run or workout at the gym to release my woes. My decisions now are still based on satisfying the emotional need I have to get rid of the feeling, but I have adopted healthier options and habits around what I choose to do. And I love who I am, my body, my energy and the lifestyle I have chosen for myself. It fits me like a good pair of jeans.
So many people struggle with disordered eating, quite frankly, it's hard not to with every advertisement saying 'this food will make you happy', and convenience on every corner of every block in every city, town and grassy knoll. Not to mention, our society is so focused on food for entertainment, it seems almost impossible to have a social outing and Not have food be a part of it. I totally get it. And it's hard. Especially when you have disordered eating and you are trying to break the cycle, or stay on track so the cycle doesn't begin again. Friends pressure you to come out or talk behind your back about how 'obsessed' you are when you don't eat like they do, co-workers seem to intentionally sabotage you when they bring the donut box into work, family members just don't get it, 'why don't you have more self-control?' they say. Our environment has always been stronger then our willpower...that's why it's CRITICAL your environment is conducive to your success. Friends, Family, Co-Workers alike. I have the added 'advantage', and I say that with "quotes", that after losing the function of one kidney and the other functions as erratically as the west coast weather, that I have to watch my food intake that much more... alcohol being the one thing I have had to cut out of my life by 95%. (I reserve myself 5% for those summer patio evenings...I'm not a total bore) 😉
But if you are healthy and suffer, food can be your enemy number one, and, if you are like I used to be, I would have my fun with friends dining and drinking and then alone in my kitchen trying to stuff down the shame of what I just ate or how I felt...with more food. And the cycle would then be, starving myself and trying every quick fix diet that allowed me a handful of rice crackers per day and working out like a mad woman at the gym for hours on the stair-master and treadmill. Repeat repeat repeat. SO exhausting.
It's hard having an addiction to food, but here is what saved me...and you won't believe it, but it's true so here it goes anyway. Someone introduced me to the Chocolate Power Bar. Seriously. Remember that one? Came in a dark and gold shiny package, nearly pulled your teeth out when you took a bite, and you needed to drink water with it or you die of thirst?! (said as much on the package too!). I used to buy mine at London Drugs for $2.99, which seems so expensive at the time! Seems crazy, but that little protein bar back in the late 90's helped me over come some extremely bad habits with food, that I'm not certain I would have overcome without it.
That Power Bar gave me a sense of control that nothing had before. I somehow felt good eating it, it satisfied me on so many levels, the taste, the chew, and the feeling of fullness. Not to mention, it was similar to eating a chocolate bar, with the size, the wrapper, all of it. It also made me feel more like a fitness gal. Fitness people eat bars! And so with this little bar I graduated to protein shakes, and buying all of those superfoods and nutritional supplements (and much healthier bars!) that were a big back in those days. I started to reach for my bar when I would normally want a cookie, and it grew into an 'exchange this for that' type of relationship with my not so healthy foods, to healthier options, like my bar.
The excessive exercise ceased, the bingeing ceased, and I turned my emotional unhealthy habits into healthy ones, all because of the Chocolate Power Bar. And that is probably why I became, and still am 17 years later, so passionate about how nutritional supplementation and nutritional lifestyle changes can help turn someone's life around...like it did for me. Something as simple as a tasty bar got my wheels turning in a different direction. Don't under-estimate the power of supplementation. It's all about how these supplements affect your brain chemistry, your body signals, your metabolism and more. It may take a month, 2 or even 6, like all things good, you need to give it time, and in time, it becomes a new you.
If you're struggling, don't feel alone, so many of us who are now avid proponents of healthy lifestyle's were once in the same shoes as you, which is why we are the way we are. Reach out, help is only a conversation away, and it isn't as scary as it may seem. Healing addiction takes time, but something as simple as a chocolate power bar can be the beginning to changing your life, one day at a time.
~ Monika XO