My Relationship with Food

TW: Mentions of eating disorders

I have a complicated relationship with food. And eating.

When I was younger I was pretty small for my age. I was always the shortest one in class and you could just see the outline of my ribs under my skin. And people always commented on that.

“You’re so skinny!”

You need to eat more!”

“Gain some weight!”

All of these things were said to me before I could really understand what it meant and why they were being said. But I listened to them, because I was a child and I trusted them for no other reason than these people were adults. Pretty fucked up if you ask me.

So I started eating more, I put on weight and continued to grow like any other child. Not a care in the world.

When I was eleven or twelve I started to see that my body was built differently from most of my friends and classmates. I had wider hips and slightly broader shoulders, but I was still short, still chubby. But overall, I didn’t yet have a problem with my body. So I kept eating like usual.

When I got into high school I started to dance. My body had gotten stronger from the hours upon hours of exercise and practice and still my body hadn’t really changed. My hips were still wide, shoulders still broad; but my waist was in line with my hips, my breasts hadn’t filled out. It was at this point that I started looking at my food. I was confused and didn’t know what to do.

Sophomore year came and it hit me: I wasn’t happy with my body. This is when I started to lose myself trying to be someone I wasn’t.

When I worked out, when I practiced for dance, I started pushing myself harder and harder with little to no rest. From the outside, it didn’t look like I was doing anything wrong. I just looked like a girl who wanted to be better. But on the inside, it was for all the wrong reasons.

Junior year is when I started limiting how much food I ate. My body was changing, becoming more shapely, and revealing a more “hourglass” figure when I looked in the mirror. But it wasn’t enough.

Senior year I managed to overcome some of the body issues I had but I still wasn’t mentally healthy. I was still overworking my body, still underfeeding myself, and still not happy with what I saw in the mirror.

I’ve already talked in length about what happened after high school. My fitness went down, my stress went up, and my mental health came crashing down around me.

And I gained weight. But not because of the food.

For years I equated eating with gaining weight and becoming fat. This is the fatphobic mindset that is ingrained in the minds of people everywhere. And it’s horrifying to see what it’s done to kids like the girl I used to be.

For years I hated my body because I saw fat and thought “ugly” or “unworthy”.

I’ve had to take a step back and see myself for what I really am. Because, yes, I was fat. But that didn’t and doesn’t mean anything.

I can be fat and worthy and beautiful and strong and whatever the hell I want to be.

And I wanted to make sure I knew that, even on the bad days, before I got back into fitness. Because I wanted to be working out and eating well for the right reasons. For me and my health and happiness, not to satisfy some fever dream of the “perfect body”.

My relationship with food still needs work at times but I know that a treat here and there isn’t the end of the world. Food is delicious and shouldn’t be a source of guilt but one of joy.

Until next time x

Photo by Rachel Park on Unsplash

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