It’s 1 am and I’m standing in the glow of the fridge, staring at the pan of leftover lasagna I’d told my mom I had no interest in—way too many carbs. Now, I grab a fork and start digging away at it bit by bit until I hear my sister’s footsteps coming downstairs and frantically rush out of the kitchen.

It’s summer and my friends are ordering a pizza. I’ve hardly eaten all day and I’m starving, but I’m the one who goes to the gym and eats an apple for lunch, not greasy pizza. I tell them I’m not hungry and try not to drool at the smell of cheese when the delivery guy arrives.

It’s Easter and my aunt has put out a bowl of chocolates. I turn away while my cousins reach for them. Later, when they aren’t looking, I snatch one from the bowl, take it to the bathroom where nobody can see me and slowly unwrap the foil like someone might hear it crinkle if I’m not careful. I stand there, alone in the bathroom, enjoying my single piece of chocolate.

2012 me would be shocked at 2015 me: a food blogger, Instagrammer, baker, pinner of a million Pinterest recipes slowly earning her right to call herself an all around “foodie.”

Nearly three years ago, I’d want to beat myself up for letting someone see me eat a chocolate chip.

I didn’t realize how bad my eating disorder had become. I thought I was just being healthy by cutting down on carbs and sweets—but I wasn’t just “cutting down” on them. I became terrified of them.

I remember I used to always talk like I loved food. “Cookies are the answer to everything,” I’d gush, and say that we are definitely going to make all the recipes my friends shared with me.

When I started getting compliments on my body and how “healthy” I was, though, I decided that was my identity, and that there was no way I could actually eat the foods I said I adored.

But there’s nothing healthy about focusing so hard on avoiding “bad” foods that you miss out on eating with the people you love.

What’s ridiculous to me now, looking back, is how much I honestly thought people would care if I broke my heroic restraint from eating like a normal human being.

Recovering from an eating disorder meant understanding that food is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, I learned it could be pretty fun to flaunt.

That’s where Instagram—basically, the king of food pictures—came in. I used to use Instagram and Pinterest only for fitness inspiration, so nearly every day I was bombarded by images of girls with six-packs and “no excuses no excuses no excuses.”

I came across health food recipes now and then, but even those were scary to me because of unknown calories.

After a long break from social media, I came back to those websites with a new goal: find new recipes, make awesome food, eat that awesome food, and tell the world how awesome it was.

Yep, I became one of those people: the one that’s arranging her banana slices into a perfect ring around her oatmeal and stacking warm chocolate chip cookies to form a tower just where the lighting is perfect.

A photo posted by Kate (@pbisbetterthaned) on

My friends would poke fun at my “food art,” but being so open about my eating—and yes, I do eat everything I Instagram—was giving me a whole new perspective in my recovery. For the first time in years, I was really appreciating food without that voice in the back of my mind wishing I didn’t have to be eating it.

I worship Instagrammers like @nycdining and @missnewfoodie for the endless foodporn on their accounts. They let themselves enjoy chocolate cake and aren’t afraid to say they have no regrets.

Pinterest has become my ultimate source for new recipes—and where I discovered the magic of avocado toast.

A photo posted by Kate (@pbisbetterthaned) on

It sounds weird to think that just a nice picture of a cookie could help me in my recovery, but celebrating food instead of being afraid of it helped me learn to break free of that mindset that some foods are “bad” and that eating is ever something to be ashamed of.

I know it’s cliché, but life is way too short to not bake cookies because of beach season or go out to brunch with your friends because it might affect your waistline.

A photo posted by Kate (@pbisbetterthaned) on

First of all, food is never something to fear. Second, being healthy means moderation, not restriction.

I learned that when I started embracing food as something more than fuel, and try to remember it every day. I’m still learning, and I’m still recovering, but one banana bread recipe and dose of #yolkporn at a time, I’m getting there.

A photo posted by Kate (@pbisbetterthaned) on

This was written by Kate Leddy.

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