This post was written by my daughter Larissa. Like me, she has also recovered from an eating disorder. Next week, I will publish an interview we did with each other about our journeys. Fortunately, I began my recovery long before having children and was not engaged in eating disorder behaviors or many of the thought patterns that went along with the bulimia I dealt with as a young adult, by the time I had Larissa in my early 30’s.
I have two daughters. My older daughter is six years older than Larissa and she did not develop an eating disorder. Just because a parent has an emotional or physical issue, does not mean that the child will develop it. Many factors come into play, which Larissa and I discuss during our interview of each other. The risk of developing an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, etc is often greater if at least one parent has it. This is one of the reasons why it is essential for parents to address their own issues and get help.
I am so proud of both of my daughters and very proud of Larissa for her courage, her insight, her ability to recover on her own before we even realized there was a problem and for her willingness to share with others to help them learn. Here is her article:
When I first realized that I was suffering from an eating disorder my senior year of high school, I was confused on where to start. I had orthorexia, tracked every bit of food that I consumed down to the gram, and forced myself to exercise for hours every day. I first chose to stop tracking all together and stop exercising until I had a better relationship with myself. Over my recovery, I learned about intuitive eating, and learned how to regain and listen to my body’s natural hunger cues.
When you begin recovery for an eating disorder, your hunger cues will likely feel completely separate from you, if you feel any at all. Your emotions, rather than your body, will often dictate your eating habits. Sadly, the easily identifiable symptoms and behaviors of an eating disorder indicate deeper-rooted issues that can be much more difficult to treat, including a perceived lack of control over one’s life, a “type-A” personality or perfectionist tendencies, past trauma, and anxiety and depression. If you do not treat your root issues, then you will likely have difficulties healing from your disorder.
Intuitive eating aims to get rid of self-prescribed fad diets and other forced ways of eating, and go back to the basics. Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. At our core, our bodies know how much and what type of food we should be eating. We do not become over or underweight for no reason. For the vast majority of us (assuming that you do not have a metabolic disorder or other disease that affects your weight), our bodies are capable of regulating themselves, as long as you work with it.
According to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, intuitive eating has 10 core principles:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Respect Your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise—Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
To learn more about these principles and intuitive eating, please click the following link:
When I found the Intuitive Eating book, my life was forever changed. It may seem self explanatory or simple, but before this time, I had never just listened to what my body needed. At first, my body craved a lot of high calorie foods – a stark contrast from how I was eating before. After a month or two, I noticed that my appetite and cravings were leveling out, and I started to want more fresh food again. I doubted myself along this process, and even five years later I sometimes question what my body is telling me, but I work hard to continue to honor my cues. I also am sure to be aware of how my emotional state affects my eating, as sometimes when I am stressed, overwhelmed, or not feeling confident, I am more likely to resist eating. I truly believe that my metabolism has been able to heal over the years, and I have found a method of exercise that is fulfilling and enjoyable, rather than a punishment. No matter how hard my recovery was at the start, I will never regret the time that I have spent working on myself, further connecting with my body and intuition. This journey has led me to a helping profession as a personal trainer and I am about to begin a Master’s program to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.
If you are experiencing disordered eating in any capacity, I urge you to seek outside help. The philosophy of intuitive eating had a profound impact on my life, as did introspection and therapy. There is absolutely no shame in recognizing that you may need someone to help guide your thoughts and behaviors onto a more positive track. You, and your body, are worthy of health and kindness.