(170) I cannot have food around me and resist it.

Welcome to the Season 4 premier of the Love Food Podcast! I am so glad you are here. Let’s dive into exploring a history of complicated family dynamics, genetic ties to eating disorders, trauma, and feeling stuck in binge cycles.

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Looking want more Food Peace? Want to help support the Love Food Podcast? Check out my new After the Letters Project on Patreon. I have exclusive weekly mini-episodes for $29/month and other freebies. Find more at Patreon.com/LoveFoodPodcast

This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,  

I don’t really know exactly when my relationship became complicated with you, or quite how it came to control my life. I remember when I was in my early teens, being the one to say diets are bullshit, and not thinking about what I ate. Being anti-diet culture was practically a part of my identity, and such is where my values sit today, but I live in complete contradiction.
At some point in my teens, I started restricted and using my vegetarianism to always choose the salad option at school. But it wasn’t controlling, it wasn’t overwhelming; it felt more like a natural reaction to being at an all girls school in the society that we live in – an image-based thing. Sometimes, it was reactionary, in spite of my (well-meaning) mother who would always tell me that ‘soup is a starter not a meal’, and check if I was eating enough despite her smaller portions. (I later learned she had a struggled with anorexia for years, and would still struggle to eat in times of stress.)

I developed anxiety and depression by age 16, which ruled and ruined my sixth-form life. Perhaps it was the exam stress, the family troubles – growing up with a drug abusing brother who was in and out of school, in and out of home, in and out of hospital (not that I was always told straight away). We had a complex relationship with my father, who always vied for my brother’s attention and allegiance against my mother. I tried to be always neutral, always loving of all parties – because I was, and couldn’t not be. But with this came a lot of pain, a lot of confusion, and the earnest desire to always tread this precarious, and often punishing line.  Of course, when I couldn’t – and can’t today – there is guilt. I was a straight A* student until the slump during my sixth form years, when my energy broke, and I scraped my way through the last 2 years. I used to be, and still feel like I should be, the person who was able to succeed at anything and everything without dropping the ball – but suddenly I could do nothing, and have struggled ever since. Around this time I realised there was probably something wrong – a cause. Through an explosive conversation with my mother, I was pushed to a consultation with a therapist and given the diagnosis – anxiety and depression – but didn’t receive further help.  

In my first year of uni I tried to access help myself, but was turned away by the uni counselling services after a few sessions, saying they didn’t know how to help me as I had already thought everything through so much myself. It was in this year I had a few episodes of bingeing and purging. This continued around occasional periods of stress, such as exams, but not as a regular method of coping.  

In second year, my mental health worsened. Restricting, binging and purging became a secret indulgence, but never something I saw as a problem as it was so sporadic. I had difficult relationships with my flatmates, though I had stronger friendships elsewhere, I felt alone. I became so ill I had to defer my exams. I worked towards the summer session, hoping I could somehow manage. But two weeks before I was due to take them, I was raped. 

Utterly broken, I moved back in with my parents for a few months, during which time I tried to use food to console myself while I tried to process what happened. But when a close family member was admitted to hospital with terminal cancer, I began majorly restricting. When they passed away and my family fell apart, I moved back to my uni town and started a new job, trying to get my life back on track. Pretty much all the friends I thought I had were no longer there for me. I managed to access CBT for 9 weeks, but developed bulimia in an dramatic way, binging and purging at least 3 times in a day, at one time losing a stone in a month. This continued through another exam deferral, and another. 

I fought for a year to access treatment, being passed from waiting list to waiting list, rejected for being too symptomatic, too complicated or not fitting criteria. Along the way, I met someone who truly loves me and cares for men and helps me through these struggles. When I am with him, I eat normally and don’t purge, but will find myself in tears most evenings because of food. My weight is stable at a healthy BMI, but I am miserable in my skin, mentally exhausted, and absolutely terrified: of this relationship with food that dominates my life. I cannot have food around me and resist it, regardless of whether I am hungry – I am so anxious about when I might need to eat, that I am constantly aware of a hunger, and I cannot discern the emotional from the physical. I know I use bingeing and purging as both a means of occupying myself when I am alone, as an emotional control and as a form of self-harm. And what started as a tool has grown like a weed to something that I am constantly aware of, and bothers me even when I am happiest. I love to cook, and often cook with my boyfriend, but cannot enjoy a meal without resenting myself and being overwhelmed with frustration as a result.

In a month, I will finally be starting treatment (psychotherapy with a trauma focus), but I am worried about managing my relationship with food during this time, as I know it will be a gradual process, and not the focus of my treatment. Additional private treatment isn’t easily an option for me. I am also worried about the strain I place on my boyfriend, who is always there for me, but who cannot fight the battle for me, no matter how much he may want to try. 

I am trying to keep the willpower to fight for myself, to maintain the relationships I have left and succeed in my final chance to pass these exams in just a few months. I desperately need peace with you food, so that I can have more energy to make peace elsewhere in my life. 

Yours, 

Terrified & pleading for a truce

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(158) I don’t love every part of my body. Can I still pursue Food Peace? (with Vaughn Darst)

Are you on your path toward Food Peace™ yet struggling with accepting a part of your body? Do you live in a body that gets misgendered including in recovery spaces? You can have access to Food Peace too. Listen to expert guest Vaughn Darst as he explores this part of the journey on the latest episode and season 3 finale of the Love Food Podcast.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

I want to share the work going on within Decolonizing Fitness. The person behind it, Ilya Parker, is a trans person of color Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He is a social justice advocate and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice.

He decided to merge his love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC; which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity. Check out www.decolonizingfitness.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

We’ve had a rough ride. The past 5 years have been a constant flux of hating you, loving you, wanting you, needing you, abandoning you, and re-discovering you, all the while changing the body in which relates to you. Though it really didn’t change a lot at all; in fact it’s stayed relatively the same, but this un-changing body can just looks so different. On different days, in different mirrors, in different rooms, at different times, with different people, after different meals, it looks so different and I’m not sure which to believe anymore. I’ve come to accept this changing perception and try my best to give way to the kinder ones and not give much room to the less friendly ones. This has helped me come to a much better stage in my recovery and my relation to you (Food).
 
But there’s something I feel pulling me back into unhealthy thought patterns and coping strategies.I’m a non-binary trans people who has not been through any physical transition processes yet and, although I’ve managed to accept many parts of my body that I have felt hatred towards previously, I find it impossible too accept it as a whole. Because there are parts that I unequivocally don’t want, for example breasts, and so I don’t feel I can experience my body as a whole. At least not as long as I still experience this kind of dysphoria.
 
The thing is, Food, I don’t feel like I can resolve my relationship with you and move forward in my recovery while I can’t resolve my relationship with my body and my gender dysphoria. The part that I struggle with the most is that there is a distinct lack of resources and inclusion of trans people and bodies in rhetoric about eating disorders. Often, when I’m seeking help, I find myself confronted with invalidation of my gender identity and a sense of loneliness in my struggles. In fact, I tried to access counseling and they required everyone to take a nutritional information course first, in which they proceeded to mis-gender me and almost exclusively talked about anorexia and female body ideals as though that were the only issue in the room.
 
Now I know I’m not the only non-binary trans person to experience an eating disorder and/or gender dysphoria but I feel quite lost at sea in this struggle and don’t know where I’m suppose to swim to next.
 
Yours sincerely,
Drowning in Gender-norms

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(156) Food controls my life.

Does food control your life? Is every waking moment thinking about food, your body, calories, carbs, sugar, bad body thoughts, exercise, and shame? Listen up to the latest Love Food Podcast episode exploring how to move onward and what your body needs to carry on with your Food Peace™ journey.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

I want to share the work going on within Decolonizing Fitness. The person behind it, Ilya Parker, is a trans person of color Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He is a social justice advocate and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice.

He decided to merge his love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC; which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity. Check out www.decolonizingfitness.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

Food controls my daily life.

I think about my next meal every second of every day.

Stress makes me restrict or binge. There’s no in between.

I lost XX pounds in the month of April and May – almost hospitalizing me.

Then I gained XX+ pounds in one month – August.

I binged – cookies, ice cream, anything sugary. Every day sometimes twice a day.

Food controls me. But I am more powerful. I can control this.

Disordered eating is an issue for me.

I want to look like myself again. Not me during restriction. Not me during binging. Normal me. Physically and mentally me.

Love,
Me

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(155) F*ck off diet culture.

Diet culture is literally everywhere: in safe spaces, sacred spaces, and progressive spaces. How do you break up with diets when the world celebrates their worth and demands their adherence? Listen to the latest Love Food podcast episode to give you mojo as you radically reconnect with your body.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

I want to share the work going on within Decolonizing Fitness. The person behind it, Ilya Parker, is a trans person of color Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He is a social justice advocate and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice.

He decided to merge his love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC; which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity. Check out www.decolonizingfitness.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

I am not sure if you and I can ever have a peaceful relationship. Lately, I am exhausted with recovery and the daily struggles of trying to eat intuitively, feeling like I am failing, and wanting to change my body. It feels like there is too much stress in my life that I do not have any energy left to try to go against the mainstream’s ideas on food and dieting that on bad days I wish that I had never heard of intuitive eating and embarked on this journey.
I realized that we had a complicated relationship after reading Intuitive Eating for the first time. I bought it on a whim, looking for an end to the food and exercise tracking madness, but still desperately wanting to change my body. I wanted to teach myself the “right” way to eat. I thought I was doing well, eating intuitively, and generally feeling at peace. This was until it was pointed out to me that I was following the “intuitive eating” diet, and this realization launched a pretty steep decline in my recovery. I know that the behaviors I had were not healthy and that at one time I realized that I needed help with them. But since I am not able to separate Intuitive Eating with the “intuitive eating” diet, I am so confused and apprehensive to try to re-learn it. Was everything I had learned the last 3 years completely wrong and how could I have missed the mark so much? Part of me wants recovery and the other part of me knows it will continue to be very challenging and I do not feel like I have it in me to stay on this path. I don’t think I can go back to how I was before, but I continue to be in what feels like a half-recovered space. Working through my disordered food behaviors illuminated that I have a lot of personal trauma and feelings that I was using disordered behaviors to cover up and deal with. As I work through those, I notice the disordered food behaviors creeping back in like an old friend, wanting to help me cope.
I realize diet culture is everywhere. And because it is everywhere, I feel exhausted by constantly defending my position to people and not giving in to the allure of what I know now to be another diet. My extended family gatherings that involve food consist of comments about amounts of food, “good/bad” food, needing to “work off” the food, or some special ingredient that will save us all from disease. Yoga has been a refuge but walking into the studio I might read a flyer for a weight loss cleanse, overhear conversations about diets, hear body negativity from other yogis and even some of the teachers. I attended a yoga teacher training informational session, thinking it would be a good challenge for myself to take my yoga practice to a new level and left feeling completely defeated after learning that one of the training modules was around “how to eat like a yogi”. Sharing my own baked treats with co-workers inevitably invites a litany of body and diet comments as well as their own personal justifications for eating or not eating the food I brought. I created an Instagram account for my dog because I thought it would be a fun way to share the funny things he does. Do you know how much diet culture permeates instagrams about dogs? A lot. I cannot shut off the continuous diet culture that is everywhere in my life. Something has to change.
Perhaps I am not fully on board with Intuitive Eating and HAES and that there are still pieces of diet culture I am hanging on to. All I know right now, food, is that I am mad. I am mad that I know that my food behaviors aren’t healthy for me but that I want to keep doing them because it felt like I was in control. I have so much shame for having this problem at all that I can hardly admit it to myself. I justify this by fully embracing that I hate my body and that, of course, then the disordered eating makes sense. I am so tired of starting over with different therapists, finding yet another book that I put my salvation into, hoping that, yes, maybe this one will click and I will magically love my body and I will become a true Intuitive Eater. Will I ever feel normal around you, food? Will I ever want to take care of my body instead of punishing myself for making a mistake at work, getting into an argument with a loved one, or accidentally reading a diet message on a magazine cover and feeling self-loathing? Can I enjoy you, food, without feeling an intense desire to want to exercise or restrict later? Can I trust you, food, knowing that my IBS may cause days or weeks of intense intestinal pain and fear of you, food? Will I be able to go to my doctor and not be completely obsessed for weeks after accidentally seeing my weight (and shame for feeling good that it was lower than what I thought)? It all feels too much, and I feel entirely un-grounded. I realize that this letter is even contradictory, stating that I wish I could have my old food behaviors back and also knowing that I have learned and made progress. I am just not sure, food, that I am on the right path, or even what the right path is.
Sincerely,
Wanting to Check Out

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(153) I have made peace with food yet still emotionally eat. Why?? (with Heather Caplan)

Have you done the Food Peace™ journey for some time yet still find yourself emotionally eating? Are you frustrated that food still soothes you like nothing else?? Does it feel as though you are doing Intuitive Eating incorrectly because you can’t just eat when hungry? Well, we have a podcast episode made just for you. Listen here now with special guest Heather Caplan RD from Lane 9 Project.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

I want to share the work going on within Decolonizing Fitness. The person behind it, Ilya Parker, is a trans person of color Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He is a social justice advocate and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice.

He decided to merge his love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC; which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity. Check out www.decolonizingfitness.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food, 

I feel like I am at a crossroads with you. For years I restricted you and then binged on you, part of me struggling to give myself enough of you and part of me demanding that I get my needs met. I know so much more now than I did when I first started struggling with you; I know about trauma, dissociation, how bingeing can’t be “fixed” with restriction, that my weight and my body and even what or when or how much I eat are not the problem. I know that, nowadays, when I use you to numb my feelings or try to escape them, you don’t provide me the true comfort and relief that I long for. I also know that, nowadays, I can enjoy you so much more than I did in the past. I can be flexible about when and what I eat, I can sometimes articulate what of you I’d like to eat, and I can sometimes say when I’ve had enough of you. 
 
I no longer binge as often as I used to, and I don’t binge on the quantities of food I used to. But there are still lots of evenings when I turn to you and eat more of you than I’m hungry for, or I eat something that I don’t even truly want to eat. I don’t think this is the same as bingeing, but it still feels like I’m trying to use you in ways that you can’t help me, and this behavior is keeping me stuck in a place I want to grow out of. I feel like I turn to you when I simply WANT—want more of a good feeling, or want less boredom, or exhaustion, or frustration from the workday. Why do I keep turning to you when I know you can’t give me what I need? How can I connect this knowledge that you can’t fix my feelings or take them away with the part of myself that still depends on you for . . . everything? I’m ready to take the next step, yet at the same time I feel like I am holding myself back.
 
From,
Caught in Between

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!