For the majority of my life, my relationship with food has been pretty rocky. I inherited my mom's love of sweets. There are so many Easter and Halloween home videos that shows my mom and I competing for the most on-screen time eating candy, and it set a bad precedent for my eating habits at home.

My mom and I, or one of my grandmothers and I, would bake treats all the time. Bonding over a pan of brownies turned into licking the bowl and eating half of the pan in one sitting. I began to associate those fond memories with food, which I didn't realize was harmful to my well-being

Unhealthy Mentality 

Hannah Brown

As this image of my childhood-self indicates, I was pretty miserable. Not only did I crash all the time, but I had horrible body image issues that weren't helped by my peers. When my friends and I got to middle school, these body images grew as I witnessed peers hardly eating or eating a ton while remaining incredibly thin.

I was athletically built and always hungry, so I felt alienated by my eating habits and by the way my body reacted to this eating. 

By the time I was in high school, I had developed the horrible habit of meticulously logging everything I ate in a small journal I hid from everyone. I would be close to tears as I forced myself to write down the extra few cookies I'd eaten in a frenzy.

Compulsive Eating Habits

wasabi, tuna, sauce, sushi
Hannah Brown

The compulsivity of my eating arrived in binges that became peppered with extremely healthy eating. I would only eat salads or make vegan smoothies for a week, and then I would down a pizza or cartoon of ice cream in one night.

When I would go out to eat with my friends, I ordered small plates or otherwise healthy items to keep up appearances. However, as soon as I came home, I'd binge on sweets.

Things seemed to get worse after high school graduation. I became obsessive with working out and going home to eat a meal large enough to feed three people. That whole summer, college couldn't come soon enough. 

Arriving to College

tea, beer
Hannah Brown

When I actually got to college, what struck me most was how differently everyone regarded food. I saw people struggling to eat enough food, to eat healthy, and struggling to find a balance.

It made me feel better seeing that everyone had their issues with food, big or small. I began to feel more comfortable having seconds or not portioning out every little thing I ate. 

It took suffering through a year of poorly lit dining halls, erratic eating hours and a variety of new foods that Chicagoland has to offer, but I finally feel comfortable with my plate. My relationship with food couldn't be stronger.