Think about your relationship with food when you were twelve years old. Write down what that looked like, then compare how it is different now. How does this make you feel?
I was so awkward in middle school.
I had pimples. I was very “experimental” with my clothes. I had about a dozen hair-do’s that I just cannot understand what I was thinking. And I hated the way I looked.
I had grown up taking dance classes. While I loved dance and expressing myself via movement, it was also a huge source of dissatisfaction with my body. Ballet was the worst. There was no way, in this lifetime or the next, that I would ever have a “ballet” body. None of the poses looked right on me. I struggled to move like the other girls in my classes.
So it was around the age of twelve that I started “dieting.” At the time, with the internet still being somewhat limited and most of my information coming from magazines, that meant, quite simply, eating fewer calories. And what do you know? It worked!
As a pre-teen, I didn’t understand the full ramifications of what I was doing. However, when I got on the scale or tried on my clothes, I was thinner. So I kept eating less and less and less.
I remember making a packet of oatmeal last for a solid twenty minutes and eating a single yogurt for lunch most days at school. In my room, I’d do exercises in between meals obsessively and read to distract myself from my hunger. It was the worst time ever for my relationship with food.
Over the next one to two years, I swung the other way on the pendulum and started binge eating. To this day, it always makes me sad to think about how my teenage self was more worried about the fact that I was gaining weight – as opposed to being concerned about my trying to maintain a lifestyle of starvation – to ask for help. At the time, I worked with an amazing counselor who helped me to heal my relationship with food and my body, but it took a long, long, long time for that to happen. (And I still work on it.)
While I really don’t consider my relationship with food now perfect, put in this context, I’m so happy with how far I’ve come. Sure, I’m a long way away from that twelve year old girl. However, my relationship with food is a lifelong one. The fact that it’s been improving over the years, instead of degrading, is progress and something not everyone can claim.
Black Iron Nutrition is offering a 30 Day Mindful Eating Challenge that includes journal prompts and tasks to help bring more mindfulness to our relationships with food. And I’m in! This post is in response to today’s prompt to keep myself accountable and get the most out of my participation. If you’re interested in joining the free challenge, sign up at Black Iron Nutrition’s website here.