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How I overcame an eating disorder

I know very few people who have a normal relationship with food. I reread the journals I kept since I was 8 years old recently, and even when I was 8 I wrote about wanting to be skinnier. A few years later, when I was dancing a lot I became even more obsessed. In my mind I was never thin enough. There's a fairly well established phenomenon that people with eating disorders experience called body dysmorphia in which the individual has a warped sense of what their body really looks like. Kind of like living in a perpetual fun house with mirrors that distort your body proportions. I think this phenomenon may be a lot more common than people think, and that every person experiences body and image dysmorphia to some extent, possibly even regarding the appearance of faces. So how can a person know what they really look like? I'm not entirely sure we can. Because along with the visual information coming in from the retina, we put together visual images by combining the information with all past associations with whatever it is that we observe. And if you've been running a negative narrative from a young age, that becomes a part of your experience whenever you view something your mind associates as "me". Everyone wants to love the way they look. So what to do? I honestly believe that every person can have the exact body they've always dreamed of, it's just a matter of believing it's possible. Thoughts are primary in my opinion, after all. And we start forming narratives from an early age, probably subconsciously. But actually that is empowering, because it means that all a person has to do to achieve their dream body is to believe that they know how. I've struggled with my body image since I was a young girl, and my issues progressed from severe restriction to restriction followed by binging on "bad foods".

These issues have resolved themselves now but up until fairly recently binging on normally restricted foods was still an issue for me. I've reflected a lot on why I binge, and I realized that a part of the reason is because I was scared to only be wanted for my body. But I would also binge when I was sad, or stressed, or confused and just wanting to eat everything. So the issue was very complex. So here's how I got over the problem. I started to just give in whenever I wanted to. No foods were restricted. If I wanted to eat something, I ate it, all the while telling myself that that's what was going to allow me to get over my eating disorder. And the binging stopped. Because what's the point of eating till your sick when you can eat the same thing tomorrow if you want to. It seemed like my body developed a sense of what is the "perfect" amount of food, so I could just eat until I didn't feel like it anymore. Sometimes that did involve eating a lot at once, but I tried to never feel guilty, and told myself that for a reason I didn't understand, my body needed all those calories at the time. I trusted my body consciousness since I had already set the intention to have the body I always wanted. So that worked for a while. Until I started not trusting that my body was changing for the better, then I would start saying that certain foods were restricted again, and the issue would return. But eventually I just stopped wanting to eat the "bad foods" and the food demon was finally dead. I know that technique might seem ridiculous to other people, but it really did work for me, and I can now eat any VEGAN food I want, I just don't want to eat junk food most of the time. And when I do I give in guilt free. Because a part of enjoying life is enjoying food, just not being obsessed with it and using it as a tool for making me feel things, although I fully recognize that that's exactly what I was using it for in the early stages of the process. I will warn you now that you are going to discover that your thoughts have a much greater influence over every aspect of your relationship with food than you ever believed, so be prepared to be confused sometimes. And be compassionate towards yourself when you feel confused since confusion is also a state that allows you to figure out for yourself the best food, and eventually the confusion will go away. Another thing I've been doing is trying to eat solely for energy. I like cooking and enjoy making things taste good, but I sure realized that I'm not actually hungry very often at all when the food isn't stimulating my reward pathway. So now, if I choose to, I can replace using food to improve my mood with other more productive things. And I feel better about my body than ever before. And the proof is in the pudding, as they say...

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