A Grain of Salt

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on April 26, 2011

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In my last post, I opened the floor to you to ask some questions about body-image, weight, and eating topics that you wanted to explore. Firstly, thank you for having the courage to ask these questions because I know that is hard to do! Trust me, sometimes I get bashful before writing a post and want to crawl under my desk with a blanket over my head and hide.

Kinda like now.

But, I’ll be brave because you were brave. :)

I was a bit overwhelmed with how many questions I received, so I tried to pick out reoccurring themes and address the ones I felt that I could offer my experiences. What works for me may not work for you so please take what I say with a grain of salt and always see a professional before making any changes in your own life. Oh, and you might want to talk to your mom about that Tattoo you are planning. She brought you into this world and she can take you out!

Self-Love & Acceptance

How do you learn to start loving yourself, just as you are?

I’ve been asked this many times before and the question always leaves me feeling like I didn’t answer it properly. I think the reason why this question always tripped me up in the past is because I thought it implied that I just flipped a switch and instantly loved myself one day. And that was certainly not the case. It took me a long time to build a positive relationship with myself.

Because I had so many negative behaviours going on in my life (such as, negative self-talk, poor body image, disordered eating and exercise behaviours), I had to change those behaviours before I could ever learn to love myself. Only when I addressed those negative behaviours and started to eliminate them from my life, was I able to grow as a person and slowly but surely allow positive thoughts and behaviours to replace them. I do not think self-love can grow from a negative place. You have to create a positive place for it to flourish and was crucial for me to address those inner demons first. I did this through therapy initially, supplementing with things I learned in psychology courses.

Binge-Eating & Calorie Counting

How did you initially begin to deal with your issues of binge eating? Did you have to cut out certain foods from your diet for some time? If you ever slipped up, were you able to stay positive? And if so, how? Do you have advice from stopping binging and overeating permanently? How long did it take to feel as though you had control of yourself around food, and how did you resist the urge to binge? 

How did you learn to not count calories even though you already knew the calorie content of most foods? Out of all the progress I’ve made in my own recovery, I still find calorie counting hard NOT to do. I’ve gotten much better at avoiding it, but sometimes I find myself counting up my day before I even realize it.

It sounds counterintuitive, but I was able to beat binge eating by letting go and not restricting myself. For so many years, I thought I could beat binge eating by being more rigid and controlled, but that only made the problem worse. I would often think, ‘Ugh I need more self-control!’, but more control was the last thing I needed.

I needed freedom. Binge eating, for me, was my body rebelling from too much restriction and control.

I used to try a ‘cheat day’ once a week to prevent binge eating. That just did not work for me. I realized that I can’t deprive myself all week and then expect to have a normal and controlled cheat day. My body would rebel against me and I would often end up bingeing, only to start the starve-binge cycle all over again on Monday. I remember the emotional highs and lows it caused me and it further reinforced the lack of balance in my life. Plus, I hate the notion that one is ‘cheating’ when eating certain foods. What works for me now, is to have a treat every single day that I look forward to. I’m not ‘cheating’, but simply enjoying decadent food in moderation.

How did I stop binges after failing so many times? I had to stop counting calories and restricting my intake. I counted calories for about 10 years of my life and I never thought I could stop the habit. It took me about 6-12 months before I fully stopped counting calories. I would try to start very small, such as not counting calories for a snack, rather than overwhelm myself and going cold turkey. I had to make baby steps because it was extremely hard to stop and I found myself doing it automatically.

I still struggled with binge eating for about 1 year after I stopped counting calories and restricting my intake. I was so frustrated about this. Here I was eating healthy portions, yet I was still bingeing! I felt like I was never going to be able to eat normally again and I relapsed into my old ways a few times, but thankfully I stuck with it.

It took me a long time to get back to a place where I could eat normally and not have old habits creep up. It was about 1 year before I was able to stop bingeing and eat more intuitively. My best advice is to stick with it, seek professional help, and be patient. Eventually, you will re-learn positive habits that will take the place of old ones. It just doesn’t always happen as quick as we hope, but the reward is so worth it.

Weight & The Scale

You seem to stay within the same weight range for the most part – How often do you weigh yourself? If not very often, how did you stop weighing yourself often and obsessing over the number? And how did you learn to not care about the number on the scale as much?

When I got serious about recovery, I decided to ditch the scale. I removed the scale from the bathroom and put it in storage so it wouldn’t tempt me. For the longest time, I was trying to get better while still weighing myself daily and I found it impossible. I wanted my recovery to focus on what was important to me- my health and well-being. After time, it was easier for me to give up because I realized that I didn’t NEED the scale! After all of these years letting the scale control my life, I realized that I could live a healthy life without a daily number. I can maintain my weight by paying attention to how my clothes fit me and how I’m feeling. Once in a blue moon curiosity gets the better of me and I will weigh myself, but it no longer changes my mood or how I feel about myself. It is just a number. I am also surprised to find that I am usually within the same 5 pound weight range. I’ve learned that the body does a wonderful job maintaining its weight when you treat it kindly.

Happy Weights

What is your definition of a “happy weight” and how did you know that you had reached your happy weight for your body?

To me, a Happy Weight is a weight your body can maintain with relative ease. My happy weight is the weight that my body naturally settles at when I am eating healthy foods (of course with occasional indulgences too), not restricting my intake, and exercising moderately. My happy weight is the weight I can maintain without resorting to obsessive eating or exercise patterns. I was only able to find my happy weight when I stopped counting calories, listened to my body’s hunger signals, and exercised without obsession. Ever since I did this, my body has been about the same size (probably give or take 5 pounds) for a few years.

A Happy Weight doesn’t necessarily mean that you will instantly love the weight/size where your body is happiest. I struggled for a long time to accept my Happy Weight and realize that I wasn’t going to be a better person, more loved, etc. if I was 10 pounds lighter. If anything I would be unhappy and struggling to maintain my low weight like I used to. Over time, I have realized that I would rather be where my body wants to be, than fighting it the rest of my life.

Over-Indulging & Slip-Ups

I eat healthy at least 80% of the time, but my boyfriend likes to go out to eat at a restaurant about once a week or go out for some drinks. I’ll agree, but beat myself up over it the next day because I feel “fat”. When I weigh myself and I’m not where I’d like to be, it ruins my entire day. I love food and trying out new restaurants and want to be able to enjoy those things in life (in moderation) instead of beating myself up about them. How you cope now with times when you over-indulge a bit. I often beat myself up for eating “too much” and have trouble letting it go and being at peace with it.

How do you make up for a “bad day” (overeating-wise) without restricting food intake or overexercising?

I’d be interested in hearing about how you cope now with times when you over-indulge a bit. I often beat myself up for eating “too much” and have trouble letting it go and being at peace with it.

I think it is best to start your day off with positive behaviours that will quickly turn your mood around. If I over-indulge, I like to start the morning with a Green Monster and a sweaty workout. Shower, get ready, and put on my favourite outfit. After that, I am usually feeling back on track as the day goes by. A workout in the morning encourages me to eat healthy all day long and gives me a positive outlook for the entire day. Focus on positive actions you can feel good about (i.e., cook a healthy meal for dinner), rather than negative actions (i.e., I will skip my lunch today) to punish yourself.

Regarding overeating, it is human nature to overeat from time to time. I overeat sometimes and I try not to beat myself up about it. I may eat when I’m bored, sometimes I eat too much when celebrating with family or friends, or when I’m dealing with PMS cravings. It happens to the best of us! The difference now is that I don’t beat myself up and it doesn’t lead to a binge like it used to. It is what it is and I move forward. I have found that the more I dwell on something, the more difficult it is to get over.

Exercise & Balance

My question to you is how you’ve learned to find a healthy medium with your workouts that doesn’t throw your body out of whack, and also how you manage to stay focused on being all around healthy (as opposed to being thin) without letting yourself make extreme choices.

For me, a big turning point with exercise was finding a way to make it fun. I used to make myself do crazy long workouts at the gym and they always felt like a punishment more than something to enjoy. I used to workout to burn calories and that was about it. Once I stopped focusing on calories, I started to look for activities that I enjoyed the most. I fell in love with running and hiking and I was motivated by how my fitness improved and how I felt. It is important to find activities that you enjoy.

Trigger Foods & Baking

I was wondering if you had any trigger foods in relation to binge eating (foods that started the binge). I know that for myself, I simply cannot have anything super salty around or I’ll get a bit crazy with it (pretzels, chips, tortilla chips, etc.). When I bake, I immediately have to pack some of it up and put it in the freezer or take it to work.

I wouldn’t call any foods a ‘trigger’ for me anymore, but I do have a major sweet tooth! When I bake, I freeze baked goods and I also give them away so they don’t make up the majority of my diet. I typically always have a treat after dinner to end my day and I look forward to this indulgence. I’m often satisfied with a serving because I know I can have some the next day if I want to. By not making things forbidden or ‘off-limits’, they become less appealing to me.

Self-Sabotage

I think when I reached my “happy weight” I self sabotage. I start to say “oh I can have some extra snacks, I deserve it” then at the sign of weight gain I go into the whole “you’re terrible for eating that, might as well just have more then” mind frame. I’d be interested to hear how people deal with that.

I think self-sabotage can happen for many reasons. For me, I used to get a strong urge to overeat when my weight was too low for my body’s preference. I would be terribly hungry, which would lead to overeating and often binges (some say this is a survival instinct). Once I found a weight that my body could maintain with relative ease, the urge to overeat was reduced greatly. Others might self-sabotage because they are uncomfortable or insecure at their new weight and their self-esteem and emotions have not caught up with their weight loss. In these cases, it might be a good idea to talk it through with a professional.

It was important for me to realize that a a slip-up didn’t need to be a catastrophe and it didn’t mean I was a failure. I still have occasions when I overeat, but I realize that it is just a bump in the road along my journey.

Negative Self Talk

How have you over come negative self-talk, in both regards to self image as well as other aspects of life?

I’m certainly not 100% free of negative self-talk, but I would say that I have reduced it by probably 75-80% over the past few years.

I feel like negative self-talk and negative behaviours feed off of each other. As long as I was treating my body poorly, the negative self-talk would increase in proportion to it. In return, the negative self-talk fueled the negative behaviours! It is a hard cycle to break out of.

A good strategy that I used (and still do from time to time!) is this:

List all of your negative thoughts on paper, cross them out, and write positive ones to replace them. Do it first thing in the morning and right before bed. I strongly suggest that you do this twice a day because when you write your list at night time, you can look and see what was worrying you in the morning. Often, you will realize that your negative thoughts had no basis whatsoever.

For more on dismissing negative thoughts, please see this post.

Eating On The Go

Do you ever crave convenience foods, especially if you are out and about/busy? I’d say cutting way down on these is one of the biggest changes for me over the past few years.

When you are away from your home either traveling or eating out, are you triggered to binge by certain foods, since it is often hard to find healthful nourishing vegan foods in the average restaurant. (for me especially, living in rural Alberta). I cook very clean meals at home and dont bring processed food in that will trigger me, but i really struggle with traveling, which i have to do a lot of for work.

I know that my options as a vegan are likely to be very minimal when out and about so I try to pack snacks when I will be out. I am much more prepared now than I used to be. I tend to pack fruit (like an apple with nut butter), Glo Bars, or trail mix when I go out for an extended period of time.

When I travel I try to do a few things to prepare. 1) I ask for a mini fridge in the room if there isn’t one. 2) I will often call ahead to the restaurant to let them know I need a vegan dish. 3) I pack as many healthy foods as I can in my suitcase, such as bars, fruit, crackers, trail mix, etc. 4) I look for a nearby grocery store, market, or convenience store and pick up some fruit and things like cereal or non-dairy milk if my hotel doesn’t provide them. My goal is not to eat exactly like I eat at home, but to just do my best with the resources I have.

Friends & Family

How did you friends and family react to your disordered eating, and when did they realize that you needed help?

My family knew I needed help long before I was able to admit it. They would often try to help me or persuade me to get help, but until I was ready and willing to admit I had a problem, nothing really got through to me. It is extremely difficult on loved ones who have to watch the person go through it.

Therapy

Have you found help with behavioral therapy or through any other professional supporting you, or instead have strictly improved from the work done through your own self help?

While I was in university, I saw a behavioural therapist to seek help for my eating disorder. I was suffering from the binge-starve cycle and I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I gained about 25-30 pounds in my 1st year of university and I knew something had to change. While I was scared to be open with someone about my struggles, it was one of the best things I could have done for myself at the time. She gave me take home assignments that I could use to challenge my negative thoughts and behaviours.

Experiencing Emotions

I’m currently recovering from anorexia and I am realizing that I have trouble experiencing my emotions and managing them. Whenever something is wrong, I turn to my eating disorder…it’s like my crutch. I was wondering how you learned to experience all the ups and downs of life, while creating positive coping mechanisms, so that whenever you felt down, you wouldn’t turn to pictures of models, or doing other things ED-related things.

I totally used to use my ED as a way to avoid experiencing emotions. Anytime I felt the least bit uncomfortable, I would turn to my ED to numb the pain. When I recovered it was difficult because I had to actually face the ups and downs of life. I used to shut off all of my emotions and not talk about them. Talking to a therapist and also writing on this blog helped me tremendously. I learned, albeit very slowly, that talking about my struggles and problems was actually very healing and cathartic for me. The more open I was, the more healing that took place. It is important to find people you trust to talk to during this time because doing it alone is very isolating.

Food & Punishment

I think my biggest struggle is punishment. Any suggestions on how to not punish yourself for eating something that your mind thinks is “bad” – I think this also goes along with how to eat in moderation or understanding the consequences if you do decide to eat something that’s not healthy.

I think it helps not to think of foods as ‘bad’ or ‘good’. When I have a dessert or treat, I don’t say to myself that I am eating a ‘bad’ food, but just a food that I try to eat in moderation. Even though a food might not be superior nutrition-wise, I still recognize the value that it can have in my diet, such as pleasure, enjoyment, celebrations, etc.

How to Begin

Would you tell me how you started on your journey towards a better and real health? I have found myself on a path of self destruction for a long time. My mind knows better but old habits die hard. Where did you find the strength to overcome your negative thoughts and destructive patterns? How did you begin?

I was not able to change until I admitted that I was in trouble and I wanted to take steps to change my situation. I was sick of living my life the way I was and I felt like I was missing out on so many opportunities. Please see my Road to health series, for my story up to this point.

Off-Limit Foods

Did you ever have foods that were “off-limits” – as healthy as they may be (for example oils, nut butters, nuts, etc .. high in fat and calories.. but in a good way). Was it a struggle to re-incorporate these foods into your diet? If so – how were you finally okay with eating them… guilt-free?

Avocado, oils, nuts/seeds, and nut butters used to be off limits for me. I used to be terrified to eat these foods and I avoided them at all costs. When I took my focus off of calories and fat grams, it was much easier to introduce them into my diet because I wasn’t obsessing like I used to. I tried to focus on the wonderful nutritional benefits of these foods instead, like glowing skin and hair. I also saw a lot of bloggers eating these foods with their daily meals and that inspired me to use them too. Of course, I still try to be conscious of portion sizes, but I don’t obsess over it.

Weight Gain

I’m recovering from a past of restrictive eating and obsession with calorie counting. My question for you is that is how you would react if you gained back some of the weight you lost without changing your eating. Would you count calories or cutback on intake? My fear is that I will gain back the weight I lost and no longer be able to accept myself.

How did you deal with the fear of gaining weight when you stopped restricting your diet?

How do you not beat yourself up over weight gain. How do you avoid being depressed and upset about it?

I gained about 10-15 pounds when I recovered and initially it was very hard on me to accept that my body needed to gain this weight to be healthy again. It was very hard not being able to fit into old clothes, so it helped if I gave them away instead of keeping them in my closet.

This is where my hobbies also helped me out a ton. I started to focus on building my life back up and filling it up with activities that I enjoyed like writing, photography, or running. I used these new hobbies to distract myself from constantly focusing on my weight. Over time, it became easier to accept my weight because I was not only out there enjoying my life, but I was visibly happy and energetic, much more so than I was when starving myself or bingeing. For me, the proof was in the pudding!

Mindless & Intuitive Eating

Sometimes after I eat a meal, even if it’s filling and nutritious, I find myself walking over to the pantry and continuing to eat, whether I’m hungry or not. They aren’t serious binges in my case, and more often than not it’s healthy food, usually dried fruit or something sweet, but I know it’s not necessary, even if it’s not that bad for me. How do I combat these urges? I’ve definitely tried to put thought into staying away from the pantry/fridge after meals, but for some reason, it’s really really difficult for me. Any suggestions or strategies to help me?

How do I learn how to eat intuitively?

This happens to me as well, especially in the Winter time when I am bored at night! I found that having a dessert or sweet treat at the end of my dinner was not only something to look forward to, but it was a way for me to signal that I was done eating for the day. I typically always crave something sweet after dinner. When I have my dessert at night, I feel satisfied and I start looking forward to breakfast the next day. I try to have large breakfasts and lunches and have my calories taper off throughout the day. This seems to help prevent mindless eating at night for me.

As for intuitive eating, there is no magic formula to learn how to eat intuitively. It takes time and patience to re-learn how to listen to hunger signals. I had to give up calorie counting because as long as I was counting calories and restricting my hunger, I would not be able to listen to my body’s true hunger signals. It was a lot of trial and error for me and it took at least a year or longer to feel comfortable assessing what my body is telling me. After 2-3 years, it now comes to me naturally and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pressure to Eat Healthy

Do you feel pressure to only showcase certain foods, i.e. natural, vegan, “healthy” in some capacity on your blog? Do you ever just want to feature a super nonhealthy dessert but fear reader backlash and outcry? Or you have no desire at this point in your eating journey to show things like that anyway?

I don’t feel pressure surrounding what I ‘should’ feature on the blog and I am very grateful that my readers have been accepting of all kinds of foods. The recipes I feature on the blog are foods, meals, and desserts that I actually eat and LOVE, so I don’t feel pressure to change one way or another. I eat what makes me feel good and I share that on my blog. I don’t think everything I post is healthy, nor should it be, but I feel like I have a good balance in my diet. Of course, what works for me, doesn’t necessarily work for everyone…we all have to eat in a way that makes us feel content! I’m just one woman who has found what works in my life and sharing it with the world.

Do you ever go a while without eating, but don’t end up feeling hungry when you normally would? When this happens to me, I don’t know whether to eat or not eat. I feel like I SHOULD eat, because I don’t like to skip meals, but I also feel like my body would tell me to eat if it really needed to. What causes hunger signals to go away? Do you have any tricks to keeping your appetite on a steady schedule? (I suppose this partially relates to being intuitive.)

I don’t think this has ever happened to me before! My appetite never seems to let me down. ;) Maybe others can comment on this below?

What is your biggest take-away message from your recovery?

Ok, ok…you got me, no one asked this question yesterday, but I like it so I’m going to pretend someone did!

One of the best lessons I have learned is that life doesn’t have to be a battle every day. It doesn’t have to be a struggle. Life is what we make it. We can choose to make it a battleground or we can do our best to beat that mindset and learn to be free. I have chosen to be free. Of course I still struggle like anyone else, but I don’t beat myself into the ground like I used to.

I learn from the past, or try to anyways, and I remind myself daily just how short life is. I work at this everyday and I’m excited for the journey instead of only thinking about the destination.

I used to say, ‘I’ll be happy when ________’

Now I say, ‘How can I be happy NOW.’

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

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Sarah April 27, 2011 at 8:50 am

There are so many parts of this post I found so helpful and encouraging. I’m excited because I feel like it IS possible for me to be completely healthy through this pregnancy and even after. It IS possible for me to find freedom from food obsessions.
Thank you so much for using the time and the heart to write this.

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Kelsey April 27, 2011 at 8:59 am

Thank you so much for this post. I’m currently in recovery from a binge eating disorder and it is so encouraging to hear how you have recovered… I CAN do this. Not restricting is so scary but it is a huge part of recovery and it is so great to see living proof that it is possible to not restrict and not gain a ton of weight (my biggest fear). I read your blog all the time but I was especially blessed by this post. Thanks Angela. You are such an inspiration.

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Nicole @ Of Cookies and Carrots April 27, 2011 at 9:15 am

I cannot even express how wonderful this entire post was and how much it was needed for me AT THSI VERY MOMENT. I’m really struggling with my body image and body acceptance after a history riddled with periods of semi-restriction, and regaining some weight in the past few months (I lost a lot of weight in the fall due to stress to the point that it was unhealthy). I’m incredibly uncomfortable with my weight gain and keep oscillating between eating too much and too little and I truly want to stop thinking about it, and stop berating myself in my head for being ‘too fat” when realistically I’m not.

Anyways, thank you. I’m considering printing this and reading it daily ;)
<3
n

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Whitney April 27, 2011 at 9:31 am

Incredible post… absolutely inspiring and insightful.

I have a lot to think about now today and everyday. I am battling my desires to continue to calorie-count and track and push myself more and more to some extreme level of fitness, and a desire to live and LET GO… just “be free” as you say, not struggle anymore. I’m so terrified of failing with my “intuition” and gaining back the weight I worked so hard to lose (healthily, mind you– I was overweight, insecure, and oblivious to my food or exercise before now). I need to let go of my concern with NUMBERS and focus on a concern with happiness and health.

THANK YOU! Keep changing the world, one blog at a time, Angela!

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J April 27, 2011 at 9:34 am

Thanks for this post. I started seeking treatment for bulimia a month ago, and am still in recovery. I recommend if you are struggling with an ED to seek some help, and read inspirational blogs such as this one. I also recommend reading “Overcoming Binge Eating” by Christopher Fairburn if you are considering starting to overcome your ED. I think reading “real-life” examples, such as yours, helps those on the road to recovery and helps us to connect. I also enjoy reading all the comments and seeing how you have inspired so many girls out there.

My counselor keeps telling me this “is one of the hardest things I’ll ever do”, and trust me, it’s quite challenging especially with the old habits and the emotional ups and downs. I think it would help people that don’t know where to start- if you had a “help” section for those considering treatments- ie. recommended doctors and books to help people through EDs.

I can’t wait until I’m at the point you are at, Angela. Thank you for sharing this.

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J April 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

Thank you for posting this. It’s always nice to read someone’s first-hand experience rather than reading a textbook or only getting the opinion of a doctor.

I have recently started seeing a counselor to overcome bulimia. I’m only a month in and have only had one binge/purge. She recommended I read “Overcoming Binge Eating” by Christopher Fairburn – thought it was a great read and highly recommend to anyone seeking help.

I think it would be great if you had a “help” section with recommended books and doctors for those that don’t know where to start. I tried to overcome this on my own, but realized I needed professional help. I’m so glad I initiated it, and can’t wait to get to the point you’re at :) You’re a great inspiration.

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Deanna April 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

I can’t even begin to tell you how inspiring your blog has become to me. It started with me drooling over the wonderful food pictures you post with your recipes….then I began trying them (the lentil salad is currently my favorite). I obviously subscribed to your blog and after reading this, you have truly given me the courage to accept the fact that I have an ED. You will be the first (second after myself) that I have openly admitted this to. The binge-starve cycle has been my life for as long as I can remember and I am now 34 years old. Reading this was like reading excerpts from my own life. I have really taken to heart what you have said. I have already removed my scale from the bathroom, to which I was using to weigh myself about 5 times a day. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for the personal stories you share and the wonderful, creative and truly delicious recipes you share.

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Paula April 27, 2011 at 11:52 am

First of all, I just want to thank you for your bravery in talking about this stuff. When we struggle we tend to feel isolated, but talking about it and knowing so many women have gone through (are going through!) the same thing and connecting with them is monumentally healing!

I also have 2 cents I’d like to add ;)

1st cent: along the same vein as what I wrote above, it is SO helpful to connect with people who have/are experiencing the same difficulties. I HIGHLY recommend Overeaters Anonymous to anyone who’s ED manifests with compulsive overeating, binge eating or even just an acknowledged unhealthy relationship with food where it is used as a crutch as a way to hide from and numb pain and negative emotions. OA was instrumental in my recovery process.

2nd cent: As to the question about lack of appetite and skipping meals or eating when not hungry. I think it is so important to listen to the body and get tuned into how you feel (mentally AND physically!) and how foods, activities, and thoughts affect how you feel. For me, I know my lack of appetite was due to insulin resistance and low thyroid function. These conditions are extremely common and the symptoms are almost always attributed to something else. If you have no appetite your body is telling you it can’t handle anymore food right now! For example, with insulin resistance there is too much glucose and insulin floating around in your blood and your cells are having a really hard time using it all up yet you’re not hungry because your body does not need any more glucose! However, it is important to nourish the body. We need amino acids from protein, (healthy!) carbs and fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, etc. to support the healing process. SO, with that said, what I did, (once I had the ED mostly under control and was committed to the healing process) is I still ate at regular intervals, very small nutrition packed meals even though I wasn’t hungry. What I discovered after about a week and a half is that I began to feel hungry again and I wasn’t eating just to eat but to satisfy hunger! Such a great feeling! and a sign that my body was healing :)

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Julia April 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Thank you for this post! It’s extremely inspirational and I have a feeling I will be reading it often.

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VEGirl April 27, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Angela,

It means so much to me that you posted this and gave us this great treasure trove of insight and inspiration :). Currently at 15, I have struggled with disordered eating and depression, until my parents stepped in and took action just months ago. I have been reading your blog for months now, never commenting (though it’s high time I should!), and you outlook on life is so inspiring and helps me in the internal battle I am waging.

For me, you are a model of how one can turn the tides and be… well, happy! Thank you so much for all that you do, and I hope your flu feels better soon.

VEGirl

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Leslie Paquette April 27, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Thank you! I really took away a lot from this post that mirrors my current situation. The power of the mind is incredible!

By the way, I made my first Green Monster today and it was delicious!! ~Leslie

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Katiie April 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Hi,
I’d just like to say that I tried a green monster one day (modified slightly) and was SUPER scared to try it, but you were right, I couldnt taste the spinach at all! (Even my veryveryvery skeptical Dad thought it was delicious!) :)
As well, this post is very helpful, thank you!
I’m sort of in the later stages of recovering from, well some sort of eating disorder I’m not surewhat I could classify it as. (perhaps orthorexia AND anorexia?)
and I was wondering, how do I get over the fact that I am SUPPOSED to be gaining weight? Because I make an effort to eat energy-dense foods, etc (I’m vegetarian though) and then when I see the scale rise it still freaks me out! How should I handle that?
Thank you :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 29, 2011 at 11:29 am

My advice is not to weigh yourself. :) I know it’s hard but it really helps the situation!

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Angie April 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

Thank you so much for this post and all of the posts re: your experiences related to ED and healthy living. I know your passion for creating healthy vegan recipes, but it’s the postings on how to have found a life outside of the ED that really change my life and encourage me to continue recovery. I know you have talked about writing a book – I can only hope you get to write about your life and how you have found recovery. Everything you have discussed re: finding healthy places with your weight, size, food, exercise, relationships, etc. has had such a positive impact on me. Many thanks :) Angie

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Shayla April 28, 2011 at 11:34 am

Love love this post Angela, you are such an inspiration and I can relate to everything you’ve written. I have gone through the same struggles with my ED and am finally in a happier place….your blog helped me get there and see the light. I’m now about 12 lbs. heavier from my “restrictive” weight, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so much happier and I’ve accepted this is where my body wants to be and I can finally say I’m at my “happy” weight. You’re posts are so inspirational I’ve forwarded a lot of them to my sister whose been struggling the same way too. It’s a work in progress, but it’s helping and she finds you truly inspiring :)

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Sarah April 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I love this post. It’s so thorough! I, too, have struggled with an eating disorder and in the last year have finally found myself firmly in recovery. I want to echo what you have said here–it IS a choice, and there will be moments when you have to sit with some really uncomfortable feelings as a result of that choice. But keep going! Recovery is totally worth it.

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Jessica April 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Angela,

I love that you don’t weight yourself–I think that’s so great! I was wondering how you handled doctor’s visits, etc. where you have to weight yourself. Often, I’ll avoid going to the doctor because I hate the idea of being weighed. I keep track at home, but the scale at the doc always reads higher and my disordered thinking has me nearly terrified of what I might weight. I am at a healthy weight for myself, my happy weight actually, but I’m always scared that being “fat” again is just around the corner. Any advice for me on the doctor’s office weigh-in?

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Cassandra April 29, 2011 at 8:57 am

I think your message of choosing freedom over the battleground can apply to so much, for anyone. I have been *loving* your blog, and a lot of my friends and I all talk about your amazing food and positive message (and how much it is needed, since the Internet can be a bitter place sometimes!). Thank you so much!

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Sarah April 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Hi Angela, I was wondering if you had any advice on knowing when you’re full. I know that what helped stop your binge-starve cycle was eating when your hungry and stopping when you’re full. Lately I’ve been struggling with my hunger cues and when to stop. I keep ending up missing my hunger cues, then I realize I’m too hungry, eat too much, and can’t tell I’m full till it’s too late. Any suggestions?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Hey Sarah, For me it was really hard at first to know when I was hungry. I was so used to eating because I have ‘x’ calories allotted for a meal. It took me almost a year to stop thinking about calories and to truly embrace hunger signals. Ive heard that many people benefit from seeing a RD when dealing with these issues. Sometimes a semi-structured schedule or plan can help until you are on your way.

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Ali April 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Thank you for being so honest. It’s hard, especially on low days, to fall into the bad habits of negative thoughts, food as something to control and self-doubt. That said, knowing that even one other woman has been here, and found a more positive path, is incredibly reassuring and inspiring. Thank you for being so brave to share with us.

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Vivianne April 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

Over-Indulging & Slip-Ups – I loved loved this section. This is the area where I struggle the most. I’m always getting upset with myself after I have a bad eating day (or week as was the case most recently). I punish myself and let it get me down for days. I am working to stop this cycle and I really like your suggestion that you gave!

I’m also in therapy and I have found that for me, it has helped immensely. I loved this post, and I love love love your blog. You are so inspiring. You’re inspiring because you are open, honest, and genuine. (: <3

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megan @ the oatmeal diaries May 1, 2011 at 7:45 am

Thank you for yet another amazingly inspiring post. I love it!!!

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Lindsey May 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I’ve come a long way and one day I hope to be at peace with my body as much as you are. Your blog always makes me feel inspired and hopeful! Thank you for sharing your story. I love your recipes too!

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Natalie May 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

This is a really great post. I can relate to all of the questions you answered. I’m 18 years old, recently recovering from a mild eating disorder and it’s really inspirational knowing that there are other people out there who think and act the way I do and I am not alone. Thanks :)

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Vegan Radhika Sarohia December 13, 2012 at 9:14 am

My eighteen months late reply to say along with everyone else that is a terrific post!
It will help lots of people :)
I’m currently on a low-carb low-fat diet along with being vegan but I don’t seem to have gone crazy with it yet [will come back to this post when I do! haha]
This foods and eating disorder business is so difficult, I really sympathize with people who struggle with it…good luck to all!!!!!! And Merry Christmas

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Nora May 29, 2013 at 4:11 am

I just read this post and it made me reeeeeally confident about my path of recovery. I’m suffering from anorexia for three years now with a binge sub type starting last summer.
I did try to restrict myself more and more when my binges started as well, but obviously that didn’t work.
Last month I decided it was time to worry about becoming happy and not skeletal again and I too put my scales out of my bathroom and I am trying the “one treat a day” strategy as well because it’s far easier not to binge when you now that there is nothing you can’t do or rather don’t allow yourself to.
I’m still falling back in my binge-starve cycle every now and then (like at the moment >.<) but reading your post reinforced me that the part I'm taking is the right one and that one time I'll find myself in such a positive place as you do. Still with ups and downs, but that's how life goes. And hard times do make us appreciate the easy ones even more.
All the best to you and your further path in life,
Nora

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Marika June 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Hi Angela,
Thank you so much for creating this website and for truly being honest about your past struggles with eating disorders as well as your current successes with staying healthy, fit and happy. It really speaks to young women all over that have also had distresses related with food and body image, and on behalf of everyone currently struggling I would like to give you a real thank you. You are an inspiration and are truly amazing. It is not easy whatsoever to do what you do; it takes a really strong person to open up to this sensitive subject that has been troubling girls and women for years.
I am a 17 year old girl, a ballet dancer, that has been struggling with eating and the pressure to be thin not only coming from the profession, but from having a very strict type-A personality, meaning that I need to control everything in my life as well. Whenever there was something going wrong and I felt as though I wasn’t totally in control over the situation, I would turn to restricting my eating, which eventually resulted in very serious ankle injuries, hurting my dancing both physically as well as my drive for continuing to pursue my goals. Reading your blog has truly helped me to start focusing more on being healthy so that I CAN dance, not thin and rail to the point of exhaustion, preventing me from doing what I love and eventually hurting myself down the road. Your kind words and story are truly inspiring and for this I would like to applaud you for everything you do!
Thanks a million :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Hey Marika, Thank you so much for this lovely comment! I appreciate it so much. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles and I wish you all the best with overcoming them! (hugs)

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Nausheen October 5, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Thank you for such a beautiful post. I m currently in recovery and I loved everything.

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Jenn Fitzgerald October 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Dear Angela,

I have just read your ‘A Grain of Salt Piece’ and it really struck a cord with me. I have suffered and do suffer from a negative body image and sometimes I don’t realise how much of an impact it has on my feelings and behaviours. Last year I undertook Cognative Behvioural Therapy which turned my life around and made me realise how much of a hard time I give myself day-in-day-out, nothing is ever good enough, although people often tell me I’ve achieved something great I don’t let these thought absord and seems to let the negative throughts dictate what I do. I am aware of it now and it is a constant process of trying to stop bad habits and thoughts, some days are better than others. I love to read your website as it is so positive and inspiring, especially on those days when I am in need of some inspiration.

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Brittany June 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I want to thank you so much, from the very bottom of my heart, for being so open with your journey. Reading the posts on your blog is helping me more than you’ll ever know. I am 20 years old and have lost over 100 pounds since I was the age of 16. After this extreme weight loss, I found myself with an eating disorder after losing a little too much weight and feeling sick all the time. After finally admitting to myself that I had taken it too far, I saw a cognitive behavioral therapist, which helped quite a bit in my recovery. Now, a few months later, I’m trying to learn how to truly live again after a life of restriction and obsession.

Your blog has helped so much to show me that obsessing over calories is not a rewarding way to live, and that focusing on nutrient-dense foods that make me feel good is a much more fulfilling experience. Thank you so much again for being so open and honest. You are truly helping me continue to improve my relationship with food as I learn how to live again.

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A July 3, 2014 at 8:01 am

I’ve read through this a few times already and will probably read it a few times again. Thank you so much. I think the hardest part for me is wanting to recover, wanting to feel better and make a positive difference. You’ve pushed me in the right direction. Thank you.

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Masha October 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Dear Angela I just want to thank you for creating this ABSOLUTELY AMAZING blog. I came across it while in the midst of feeling the exact same way you describe in your post above. You brought back life into me. I now feel extremely inspired and trying my best to stay motivated by referring here every time. By sharing your life stories and your delicious recipes ;) you inspire others to better themselves and feel complete. You are a true blessing!!!. Thank you very much!!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

Thank you for your kind words Masha! :)

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Kayla October 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

Angela,
I wanted to let you know that yesterday I took a huge step in sharing my own story with “ED”, and I believe a big reason for that is in thanks to you! Reading your story helped me to realize that I needed to get help myself. Seeing a therapist was life-changing and I couldn’t be more grateful to the experience & how it has helped me. If you have a minute, you can read my story here – http://healthyalamode.com/2014/10/youre-not-skinny-enough-to-have-an-eating-disorder/ – but either way, I just wanted to share my deepest thanks for being authentic and vulnerable; and helping me to realize the freedom it could also bring to my life!
Kayla

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 21, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Hey Kayla, Thank you so much for sharing! I’m off to check out your post :)

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Meg January 30, 2017 at 10:47 pm

This was such a great post Angela. After 20 years of restrictive eating I’ve finally decided to let it go. It’s been SO HARD to watch myself gain 8-10 lbs but I know it’s healthy for me and it will do nothing but make me fertile and balanced. I feel like this piece you’ve written will be a great post to bookmark and remind myself that I’m not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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