eating disorder solider

Overcoming an Eating Disorder & Body Dysmorphia

It’s been a little over two years since I severely suffered from an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. And fuck. That struggle was life shattering in all the ways something can be, because it affected so many areas of my life.

Hating my body started in my earliest days, too. And the more and more I became aware of my body, the more and more that feeling intensified.

There were so many factors that lead into this. To start, I watched other women in my life obsess over their bodies and listened to them shame themselves for not being small enough.

That had it’s own effect and in a way programmed me to believe that was normal behavior.

Mixed with that, there was (still is) social pressure to look a certain way; constantly inundated with images and messages on how you should look. You’re spoon fed the idea that if you want to be loved, popular, successful, celebrated, happy...you MUST live up to these flawless expectations.

And I tried and I never achieved it, because it’s impossible. Because perfection doesn’t exist. Because what you see is distorted and photoshopped.

But, at the time, I didn’t have that awareness, so I grew to hate my body even more. And that hate and obsession is what catalyzed my eating disorder.

This a huge epidemic so many face, and it’s no surprise as to why. We’re taught how to hate ourselves. To berate ourselves, judge ourselves, be hard on ourselves, and constantly change ourselves.

Instead of being taught to accept, while striving to be the best version of ourselves—in a compassionate and loving way.

Once I realized that for myself, I had to spend time digging, unpacking, and relearning years of conditioning. And anyone who says that process is easy, they’re lying to you. It’s not. Loving yourself is hard because you’re told day in and day out not to.

I want to remind you not to hate yourself FOR hating yourself, because it isn’t your fault. To practice being gentler with yourself a little more everyday. To practice replacing hate with something neutral, as opposed to jumping right into something positive. To practice, even when resistance comes in. To practice, because you deserve it. Because you’re worth it.

xx

Devi

Overcoming an Eating Disorder

Food controlled about five years of my life. For those who don’t know, I suffered from a life-shattering eating disorder.

It all started in high school. I wanted to change my body to fit society’s fucked up standards of beauty. So, I started dieting. Obsessively. I was constantly following something and I tried just about everything. Juice cleanses. Low carb. Low fat. Paleo. Vegan. The military diet. Weight Watchers. Keto. Calorie restricting. There was even a week when I only ate baby food (😣).

I’d follow these diets for a week or two at a time, and when I “messed up” or deprivation sank in—I ate anything I could get my hands on. If there wasn’t enough food at home, I’d go to the grocery store to buy more.

Let me clarify: Binging is NOT Thanksgiving. It is NOT overeating. It’s eating a meal, and then scavenging through your cabinets to see what else you can eat; cookies, ice cream, bread, peanut butter, rice cakes—all in one sitting. You might start munching on food you don’t like. And after an episode of binging, you can’t move. You’ve stuffed yourself to the point of overwhelming discomfort.

For the longest time, I didn’t even realize it was an eating disorder. I assumed I couldn’t “get my shit together.” That I just needed to learn to control myself. But that wasn’t actually the case.

You see, an eating disorder is much deeper than having willpower around food. It’s a mask that disguises your insecurities, your pain, and your suffering. For some, it’s a coping mechanism to numb. For others, like myself, it‘s caused by body dysmorphia.

An eating disorder is not fixed by “fixing” your body or following a diet you can finally adhere to.

Recovery involves the unpacking of why and how it developed. It’s addressing the underlying issue and dismantling through all the narratives that are robbing you from feeling normal around food and in your body.

Healing isn’t linear, either. This journey is full of disarray; ups and downs. But healing is possible. I’m walking example and if you’re struggling, you will be one day, too. I believe in you. There is freedom. I promise.

Keep going. Keep trying. Keep believing.

Devi

4 Mistakes To Avoid When You're Trying To Overcome An Eating Disorder

Trying to beat an eating disorder is painfully difficult and extremely exhausting.

I know this because I fought the battle myself.

I spent years actively trying to fight an eating disorder, and without even realizing it I was sabotaging my ability to conquer it. I came up with what seemed like valid solutions, but the reality was it only exacerbating it.

These four things seem to be a common theme that many people involve in their recovery, and ones that I personally think make everything all the more challenging.

I want to preference this by saying I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I have no intent on curing or healing your eating disorder — nor am I qualified to do so. I am speaking on behalf of my own personal story and sharing my insights that helped me that might help you.


ANOTHER DIET IS NOT THE ANSWER.

When you’re trying to overcome an eating disorder, the last thing you need to do is follow another diet. Dieting itself is the number one contributing factor to the development of disordered eating in the first place.

Trying to heal your relationship with food by creating yet another filter of what you can and can’t eat is like trying to put out fire with gasoline. Another diet is not going to “fix” your eating disorder — it’s going to enable it.

In my experience, I latched on to this notion that I just needed to find different rules and guidelines I can adhere to it in hope to gain control. But an eating disorder is much deeper than just being able to have willpower around food. It’s a mask that disguises your insecurities, your pain and your suffering.

Recovery involves the unpacking of why and how it developed to begin with. It’s addressing the underlying issue and dismantling through all the narratives that are robbing you from feeling normal around food and in your body.

And while I don’t know what that exactly looks like for you, some questions that might be helpful to begin this process are:

Do I use food as a way to cope with my emotions? If so, what is a more productive and positive coping mechanism that I can implement in as an outlet for my emotions?

Do I follow diets because I’ve attached my worth to the way my body looks?

What triggers the behavior or episodes to happen?

JUDGING YOURSELF.

The worst thing you can do when you’re actively trying to work on overcoming an eating disorder is judge yourself when you feel triggered and give in. Punishing yourself for your actions doesn’t actually solve or fix anything — it just makes you feel worse.

Which leads into another important thing to remember: you are going to slip up. You can not attach yourself to perfection. This entire journey is full of disarray; it is imperfect and it is messy.

Being “perfect” about your recovery doesn’t minimize your problems, it magnifies them. And although perfection at the surface seems like the solution to succeeding and beating this battle, it’s that exact notion that holds you back from moving forward.

Instead of being hard on yourself about something that is already hard, give yourself more ease. Lead with compassion and understanding. Remind yourself that it’s okay and this is apart of the journey. Celebrate your wins and how far you’ve gotten. If you went from binging every single day to only once a week — that is a huge step. Acknowledge it.

And rather than setting the expectation to be perfect, give yourself permission to fuck up and then learn from your fuck ups.

What caused this to happen? What can you do next time to help prevent this from happening again?

STEPPING ON THE SCALE AFTER A BINGE…OR AT ALL.

The scale is just another puzzle piece to the problem. It’s part of the reason you are here in the first place and it’s that very thing that triggers you to pursue unhealthy behaviors.

Do not let a numerical fraction hold power of you. You are not an arbitrary number, baby girl. You are so much more than that.

Break up with the scale. It’s a toxic relationship and it’s not serving you. And while I know breakups are never easy, I promise that the minute you cut the scale out of your life you will start to feel less obsessed and more empowered.

And if you’re having a difficult time cutting the strings, at least take space from it for 30 days. You can do it.

THINKING YOU HAVE TO DO THIS ALONE OR THAT YOU ARE ALONE.

I assume that you’re eating disorder developed in private and you more than likely kept it that way (or at least tried to). You continue to hide it because you feel ashamed and embarrassed. Or, because you came up with some justification as to why you shouldn’t reveal it because deep down you want to hold on to it — because you’re not ready to let go of it.

I get it and I understand it because I did that very thing. And I know how scary it is to share this part of your life, but don’t stay quite — speak up and ask for help. Get the treatment and help you need to cure it.

Start with someone you trust, someone who makes you feel safe and is willing to support you through this battle.

And darling, know that you are not alone—you are never alone.


You are strong and I am here for you.

I love you,

Devi