7.5
March 29, 2021

Eating my way through the Pandemic: the Hard Truth for those of us with an Eating Disorder.

When I look back at my childhood, the most vivid images burned in my brain are the ones centered around food.

And yes, there are a lot.

My story is no different than most eating disorder (E.D.) girls who suffered the middle child syndrome of divorce (a really nasty one at that). I was 12 when my obsession really took a personality, face, and name. I was six when my parents put me and my siblings in the middle (yes, it was one of those divorces) of their split.

It’s the familiar tale that goes something like this:

The six-year-old middle child tries to be the peacekeeper of the parents and siblings while the world around us all is falling apart. The need to control something builds and builds until…

…an eating disorder is born.

“Hey, at least I can control what I eat, how much I eat, and when (if I choose) to eat…then throw it all up, right?”

Sound familiar?

I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking some form of, “Damn…yeah that’s me too,” or “I know that story too well because my _____ (fill in the blank) suffered that too.”

But, I’m proud to say three days into my 33rd birthday I’ve come a really long way from that 12-year-old girl trying to figure out how to keep it all together. What I’m not proud to say is how during the last year of the pandemic, the fight between my child self and my 33-year-old self felt like a battle. No wait…a war.

In March of last year when the whole damn world turned upside down and we lost control, I panicked.

I did what I’ve trained myself to do for the last 27 years: I took full control of the food that went in my body and out of it. Because if the world fell apart, at least I had control of that, right?

I went full food OCD and restricted myself from eating things I’ve labeled as “bad.” Then, two months later, I’d fall off the wagon and only eat things I’ve labeled as bad. The roller coaster ride of the pandemic around me and my lack of ability to control it sent me spinning.

Thank god for the tools I’ve collected over the years. Thanks to Tony Robbins, for all the training, and to the thousands of hours of yoga training—I’m much more equipped than that poor little girl was.

So, as I recognize my disorder creeping from the back burner to the front burner (because, let’s be honest, I know it’ll never fully go away) I’ve learned to make peace with it. To invite it. Doing this takes away its power.

Now let me pause here and share with you why I’m writing about the taboo topic of food and E.D. with you.

We’re in new territory.

None of us have been taught how to have an eating disorder in the middle of a pandemic. None of us have been taught how to cope with losing people we love, losing jobs we love, losing the freedom we love, and being locked up with nothing but ourselves and our E.D.

And because of that, we’re all just doing our best to try sh*t, and try again.

So here’s where I share with you what I’ve learned since last March in hope you feel less alone:

I’ve realized I’ve been flat out lying to myself. For decades.

I’ve told myself I’ve fully recovered from my E.D. and that going fully keto and restricting carbs is for the health of my body—and not my E.D. I’ve told myself that going full vegetarian for 15 years is for the health of my body—and not my E.D.

I’ve f*cking realized during the pandemic all of this was my damn disorder disguised as “healthy.”

The hardest part to admit? And the honest truth?

I knew all along and was just denying it so I didn’t have to deal with it…thanks, ego.

But here I am. A whopping 12 months into the pandemic. With nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. So why the heck not spend my spare time unpacking my childhood issues with food?

This morning, as I was listening to Brené Brown read Daring Greatly, I heard her say something loud and clear: “write what you need to read”—so here it is.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of going to bed obsessing over the vegan chocolate cupcake I ate for my birthday, while slightly sad that I couldn’t hug my best friend for giving it to me (because #thepandemic). I’m tired of being home and working 10-plus hours a day and shoving food in my mouth in between Zoom calls, then feeling guilty and not working out (because #thepandemic). I’m tired of fantasizing about the days I’d teach three yoga classes in a day and work, only fueled by my one bulletproof coffee, then practice yoga and almost faint and see that as a “win.”

I’m tired of the constant back-and-forth dialogue I have with every piece of food. It’s exhausting and it needs to be talked about.

I have a toxic relationship with the one thing that keeps me alive. A lot of us do.

And maybe instead of shaming others for what they choose to eat and put in their bodies, or focusing on how eating “only this way is the right way,” we celebrate them for getting through another hard day of eating. Because yes, eating is hard for some of us and always will be.

I’m a yoga teacher. I use only organic and good products for the earth on my body, my home, and everything around me. But I also eat a breakfast bagel with an egg from the coffee shop down the street from my house because it makes me feel a little less sad about the world we’re trying to navigate through.

I’m a sound healer who cold plunges, saunas, and does psychedelics for internal healing and shadow work. But I also drink coffee and add creamer, and spoiler: sometimes it’s not organic.

I can do both. I can be both. I am both.

I’m tired of seeing coaches, teachers, and leaders push all of their personal beliefs on me—especially during a pandemic.

No one knows my body better than me, trust me. I’ve been with it for 33 years. I am the expert—you are not. And guess what? I’m trying my very best to just live and not spiral into a full-blown eating disorder.

My expert advice? (And by expert advice, I mean as a 33-year body owner…)

F*cking do what you want and whatever it takes to get through this tough season. Eat what you need to. Don’t eat what you don’t want to. Do it all…because your normal life rules you’ve put on yourself don’t apply right now. And it’s okay.

Life is short. Have balance. Swing out of balance. Then swing back in.

We’ve learned this past year that life is short, and it’s precious. And it can change. So let’s be a little less rigid, shall we?

Today, instead of shaming myself for needing to put cheese on my eggs and wrap it with a tortilla, I’m writing this. As a way to celebrate the fact that today I am a little less obsessive than I was the day before.

And that, amidst a global pandemic, is my win.

Read 15 Comments and Reply
X

Read 15 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jenny Neal  |  Contribution: 50,420

author: Jenny Neal

Image: Smitty/Unsplash

Editor: Catherine Monkman