If you haven’t figured it out from the title, this will be a heavily triggering post to anyone who struggles with body image, has weight loss problems, suffers from disordered eating, or has an eating disorder. I do have to give it a relevant title, so I apologize if the title alone was enough to trigger anyone.
But please realize if you click below on “read more” you are literally choosing to read this post. If you do so, please do not, afterwards, do the equivalent of subtweeting in your platform of choice. Particularly if we are friends: this hurts me. I may be absent from many of these platforms, but I do still visit them, and I do see those posts. I am going out of my way to beg you not to hurt yourself by reading this post if it is a trigger to you.
For what it’s worth, I do not go to those platforms looking to trigger myself with subtweets (that would be hypocritical) but merely to catch up on friends’ lives. But I have ran into stuff like that after a personal post and it sucks. And maybe it wasn’t about me but it happened multiple times, so… 🙄
I’m writing this post as a therapeutic sort of thing, to sort out my thoughts. It is definitely one in which I feel vulnerable, since I am trying to come to some humbling realizations about my current mental state.
The most important thing to remember is that this post is about ME, not you, the reader. Nothing I am writing here is directly or indirectly referencing anyone but myself or my own struggles. Sometimes when I write about this topic or post my weight loss journey or goals, some of my followers take it as being a form of insult as to their own person or physical body. It is not. This is about me. Please understand.
If you are in the right frame of mind to continue reading, just click below. Thank you.
If food and weight loss are in your mind a lot, you may already know the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating. They mostly (but not entirely) have to do with intensity, and how much the symptoms make it difficult to lead a normal life. A lot of people deal with disordered eating symptoms (our society’s issues with body image and weight loss are principal culprits) or play them off as a joke (“I’m going to eat my feelings” for example) but generally speaking, multiple symptoms of disordered eating can be a harbinger for an eating disorder, particularly if you are in constant distress about them, so they should not be ignored.
|Eating Disorder||Disordered Eating|
|🔴 Obsessive thoughts about food|
🔴 Extreme concerns about calories
🟢 Significant changes in weight
🔴 Obsessive thoughts related to shape and weight
🟢 Impaired functioning due to counting calories, binging, purging, exercising, or other behaviors
|🔴 Eating for reasons other than nourishment or hunger|
🔴 Eating to deal with stress or difficult emotions
🔴 Engaging in calorie restriction, binging, or purging irregularly or on a limited basis
🟢 Avoiding major food groups
Only eating certain foods
The level of obsession around eating disorder thoughts and behaviors can distinguish disordered eating from an eating disorder. It can be normal to think about food when hungry or what one might have for the next meal. For those struggling with an eating disorder, however, the thoughts are generally all-consuming; the individual thinks about calories, taste, food avoidance, or where to buy food, etc. This level of obsession can impair focus, the ability to stay present, and sleep, among other things. While it’s difficult to judge how much time and energy another person is spending thinking about food or using behaviors, the individual may offer this information or it may be evident that they spend more time in the grocery store, or perhaps isolate more frequently, and their general behaviors and patterns have changed.
I have had some level of “disordered eating” at the very least, for some time now. I still consume an “appropriate” amount of calories: I neither gain, nor lose weight. I exercise an appropriate amount every day, and stop when I had enough.
But I know am heavier than I would be without the disordered eating, and I think about food all the time. “All-consuming” is not far from the place my food-related thoughts are. I could honestly say I am already there in this regard.
The thoughts of wanting to eat, or not wanting to eat, or being afraid that my cravings will come again, never ever really leave my mind. My body tries to send me eating signals the second I no longer feel “full”. It has nothing to do with actual hunger. So, I’ll eat, and then I will feel total relief that the “You can eat something now, so you should!” feeling is gone. I don’t like that feeling, that voice in the back of my head, a weird pressure to snack constantly. It’s like a devil on my shoulder whispering “You’re not too full to eat something, so you should, after all, why not? Why not enjoy your life?” as though life cannot be fully enjoyed without constant snacking.
So I am either thinking about eating food, about my relief that I am too full to eat for a while, or, if I snack, about how guilty I feel that I ate for no good reason other than I could.
And all of my guilt is centered around snacking: I have no negative feelings regarding meals. But waiting between meals is incredibly hard for me, and a couple of years ago, it wasn’t. In fact, creating a caloric deficit was easy for me then. I lost a good 15 pounds and felt so happy in my body, in my clothes. The exercise I did filled me with joy. I was loving my body and it was loving me back. It wasn’t a diet, exactly, as much as it was a lifestyle change that lasted over a year.
I’m not sure why I first slipped –holidays, probably. But at some point I was back at 130 lbs. By then, I’d fallen into this terrible cycle of snacking as part of many routines… if I read, I snack. If I’m drawing, I often snack, too. Watching TV… etc, etc. You get the idea. Generally, I associate happy activities with snacks. Because it is an emotional thing, stuff like drinking water only helps to a degree.
I know that this post ALREADY had a content warning. If you ignored it and this is putting you in a bad place, STOP. Please close the window because it’s going to get more detailed.
Recently, my thoughts about food have gone from being there a lot, to most of the time, to truly all-encompassing. I actually began to fantasize about purging (thank goodness I could never physically bring myself to do it, but if I didn’t have such an intensely bad reaction to vomiting, I’m sure I would already be at that point). But just having the thoughts is scary. I never imagined I would have those thoughts.
I’ve seen it implied that because I want to lose weight, I think my fat friends are ugly or unlovable or something. That implication is always super hurtful to read, especially because it is so untrue. All my weight loss desires have to do with me. And, I don’t feel ugly or unlovable myself, either. I like my body well enough.
To me, it’s all about personal comfort, and health: any body shape and size in which one is happy, comfortable and healthy is a good body shape and size. I have many fat friends, whom I find cute and lovable in personality as much as appearance. No one could really point at me and say “you’re fat” as an insult and cause me to feel demeaned. Does that make sense?
I’ve written this particular paragraph like three times now and can’t seem to summarize this properly, so I will simply say that it has far more to do with me wanting to be small in size rather than thin. It gets kinda complicated beyond that. Aside from that, I have a wardrobe I want to fit in that I have no desire to replace; it is very large, and I spent years carefully curating it. And it seems once my body goes past 120 lbs, there’s things about it that feel physically uncomfortable. I’m not sure how else to put it.
But above all, when I was 115 lbs a couple of years ago, I felt intensely happy, and my weight loss was a direct result. I felt no desperation to be much lighter than that (and I knew than to go beyond 100 lbs would not have been good for me). I was overflowing with confidence and it showed in everything I did.
That feeling is now gone. Instead, I am consumed by thoughts of snacking, and of guilt.
Thankfully I have enough awareness of the problem to look for solutions that have to do with mental health first, physical fitness second, and to immediately seek the support of my husband and our partner. I had separate conversations with both of them, explaining everything I am going through, and got a lot of loving support.
Our partner also shared his experience of quitting smoking and controlling other cravings, and being able to relate was a big help. Actually just being taken seriously about it, and not being guilted for having these thoughts, helped enormously. Writing this is helping, too.
The next thing is, I’ve purchased a little food diary. But the goal with it is not to count calories. Rather, it is to eat mindfully, and at set times. The goal is to reduce emotional eating. I may also have to try to do nothing else while I eat: no reading, no TV, except at dinner since that is our family activity. I have a serious problem with unhealthy patterns at this time, and I need to break them, and create better ones.
I know there is no way for me to do any of this other than one day at a time. Journaling like in this blog post is only one part of it, but everything that helps me, I will try to do. And maybe someone will relate to my struggle in a good way and it could help them too.