Most people would correlate food and eating disorders on opposite ends of a spectrum. It’s actually quite the opposite, though. Suffering from an eating disorder for almost all my life taught me that. Food becomes the center of your life, and you can’t help it. When you starve yourself, all you can think about and fantasize about is food because it’s pretty much the closest you’ll get to allowing yourself to indulge.
For me, Pinterest and YouTube were what fed me. The amount of food porn on these sites satisfied my hunger while I was losing weight. I got to an all-time low weight that should’ve really put me in the hospital. But my body is a warrior, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
I was miserable and felt very alone. The only “person” there to comfort me was “Ed,” the name I gave my eating disorder later in my recovery journey. Giving the disorder a name helps dissociate the disorder from yourself. At the time, though, we were one. It was hard to identify which thoughts were me, and which was Ed.
After an intervention by family and friends, I finally made a promise to myself on December 31, 2013 to start recovery. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I never imagined what an emotional roller coaster the recovery process would be, but I wouldn’t have the coping mechanisms I do now without the roadblocks and obstacles I learned to overcome.
But, before December 31, 2013, I began stalking “recovery accounts” on Instagram, which were accounts by people who posted pictures of their food, or before and after pictures with honest captions of how they were feeling about recovery and about themselves. That night that I made my promise, I made a recovery account for myself in hopes of connecting with other people from around the world who understood exactly what I was going through.
Now two years later, my account still has pieces of my recovery in it, but it’s mostly all about #foodporn. It’s been a gradual but dramatic shift from my first picture (see below).
I really do believe this account saved me. I met inspiring women and men who encouraged me on the days I felt torn apart by my eating disorder. They also praised me for when I overcame thoughts and challenged myself to a “forbidden food,” set by my eating disorder. Of course, therapy helped a lot too, but if it wasn’t for my personal online cheerleading squad and the close friends I’ve made in these couple years, the recovery process would be a lot harder.
As I became more engaged in the recovery community, I got better myself. I discovered the art of plating my food, and started to have fun with making my meals look a little more epic than a sad plate of boiled vegetables. I discovered various food porn hashtags, and became more and more invested in this world rather than the recovery realm.
I eventually gained my weight back, but I also gained my life back. I found the joy in food again and just living life. I’m still working on loving myself, and there are times that are extremely hard to get by. But as I go on my recovery journey, the hard times get further apart.
Through vigorous and emotional therapy lessons, I’ve learned how to pick myself up from each temptation and each relapse, and I have become a stronger woman today as a result of it. Now I go on food adventures just for fun, and I get to show people that you can enjoy the food you want. I’ve learned, and am still learning, that food isn’t the enemy.
It might look like I go on a lot of food adventures if you look at my Instagram, but in reality, I only go once every few weeks. From these adventures, I’ve learned our bodies are smarter than we give it credit for. It can adjust really well, and you can truly enjoy things deemed “unhealthy” in moderation. I enjoy eating fruits and vegetables, but I also really enjoy eating hamburgers and ice cream.
Life isn’t about restricting the things you enjoy. I am so glad I didn’t give up because I wouldn’t have the wonderful opportunities I do now if I let myself fall into Ed’s death grip.