I’m sitting on the last sliver of my beloved red couch that is still available for resting, due to the mounds of stuff still needing a home. All of our belonging are in the two front rooms of our house, stacked to the top of our 12 foot ceilings. Noah is laying on the queen sized mattress that is placed on the living room floor, he is engulfed in his current favorite iPad game. Matt is strategically walking around the boxes trying to find the last things he can do to prepare for our big moving day tomorrow while playing along with Jeopardy on TV. I’ve been pondering my thoughts for this post for the past few days, and I finally was filled with the words to share while taking a bath tonight. So in an attempt to retain as many remaining ideas as I can (since keeping a note pad beside me at all times to jot down ideas hasn’t proven to be realistic for the tub or ever), I cut my time of relaxation short so that I can get them out while they still exist in my mind… despite the disarray that is my current state.
Seven years ago I discovered a book titled Intuitive Eating. It focuses on honoring your body and restoring your relationship with food through accepting and trusting yourself when eating. It was an outlandish approach for me at the time, and for the few years that followed. I attempted to cut the cord which tied me to rules and my list of acceptable foods, but failed over and over again. I knew that this was most likely going to happen, since every new “diet” or “approach” tended towards this type of readjustment phase. My mistake was viewing this new approach as a diet. Intuitive Eating is not a diet, at all.
I will briefly go over the 10 principles of this approach only because I truly am a believer and I think it’s highly useful information to share.
They are as follows:
1.) Reject the Diet Mentality
2.) Honor Your Hunger
3.) Make Peace with Food
4.) Challenge the Food Police
5.) Respect Your Fullness
6.) Discover the Satisfaction Factor
7.) Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
8.) Respect Your Body
9.) Exercise- Feel the Difference
10.) Honor Your Health
Going through this process has proven to be a revolutionary awakening for me time and time again, even years after suffering from an Eating Disorder. I still find myself going through this list on days when I tend to struggle with issues of self acceptance or self doubt in regards to food.
Since learning I was pregnant earlier this year, I have spent a lot more time thinking about my relationship with food and my body. Since learning that I will be raising my own daughter (starting this fall), I have felt a lot more pressure to make sure that I am no longer living by distorted beliefs or unhealthy views of food and body.
So far in my experience with motherhood, I haven’t been extremely challenged to stay on top of these issues because Noah is not particularly influenced by the way that I eat. He is completely content eating spinach with nutritional yeast or a maple sour cream donut. He doesn’t understand the complexities of the connections between eating and feelings, he eats and enjoys (a quality I envy)!
While some believe that eating disorders are something that a sufferer will experience to some degree for the rest of their lives, I have chosen to believe that I will someday experience complete sustained freedom. In the past 3 or 4 years I have been able to live a life relatively unaffected by these issues (except for a short relapse last fall/winter). During the past 22 weeks of my pregnancy, I have struggled on and off with quite severe nausea. For the first 15 weeks, I was lucky to keep a piece of white bread down some days (something I generally wouldn’t touch). I was forced to honor my hunger and eat what actually sounded good… or at the very least, tolerable. I ate foods that used to exist only on my bad list and believe it or not, I survived. There was a week where the only greens I consumed came from Campbells canned broccoli cheese soup. Yikes! Still, I survived!
Eating has proven to be a challenge in my life and it is one of the last things I would want to pass along to my children. While it’s a bit idealistic to try and raise a child without the influence of society on their self-worth and it’s unfortunate relationship to food and weight, it absolutely won’t keep me from trying to provide an environment where all foods are allowed. A home where all body shapes are celebrated, and an individual’s personality, hobbies, and strengths are praised.
Most of the people I look up to and deeply love have imperfect bodies. Their talents have nothing to do with the fact that their breasts are not big and perky. Their hearts have nothing to do with the fact that they don’t wear a size 2 or 4 or 12. I love them even more for those reasons. They are real, genuine, human, the way they were created.
For the past few months I have felt like I have been bobbing in the middle of the ocean. Coming up for air while grasping for truth, and slowly going back under only to find myself fighting to reach the surface once again. There have been times when I have felt a cold, thin layer of ice has formed making it more of a challenge to break through and gain perspective.
The battle and bobbing is all part of the battle, I’m hopeful to rise above that thin layer of ice and remain before I have another little one looking to me for advice… Because, I believe it all starts at home, we learn from those closest to us, who feed us, who love us, who teach us.
Let us all be teachers of acceptance, tolerance, and love.
Really though, lets just be kind to ourselves.