As far back as I can remember, I’ve been aware that my body was bigger than the bodies around me. My whole family was thin. The girls around me were thin. The Disney princesses were thin. I was preoccupied with thinness. The older I got, the more I realized: so was everyone else.
My parents (I was raised by my mom and grandma) did a lot of things right in terms of eating. They were never on diets, we never had to clear our plates. I don’t remember talk of “good” foods vs. “bad” foods. Those we all really positive! But there was also a lot of talk about other people’s bodies. For instance: Watching the Miss America pageant together as a family and hearing them discuss the flaws in each woman’s body.
Commenting on friends’ and family members’ body types or weight gain. I just knew that this was how they thought about other people (especially women), so they must think about ME that way too. Even though they never said anything like this, in my head losing weight felt like a way to win their approval.
That’s the main thing I wish parents knew, and something I will work really hard on if/when I become a parent. Talking about other people’s bodies feels so normal in our society, but I really think it’s making and keeping people sick. We need to find more accepting language to discuss bodies, or find other things to talk about!
When I started high school, I asked my mom if I could go on SlimFast diet, and she said yes, so every day I drank two SlimFast shakes and then ate a low-fat dinner. I lost some weight, and I remember it being very very easy, and not stressful at all. It was like a fun game! Counting calories and stepping on the scale every day was like a little hobby, a routine that I looked forward to.
I don’t remember when it stopped being fun. But it started to dictate my life. I lived in fear of gaining weight, and I desperately wanted to lose more. All I could think about was food. Eating it, not eating it. Counting calories, working them off.
When I went away college, the dining hall buffet was just more than I could handle. I couldn’t be “normal” around food. I had no idea how to stop eating. I’d eat until I felt like my stomach would explode. It wasn’t more than a month on campus before I thought…well…I could just puke and feel better. It was like a get out of jail free card.
I struggled with binge eating and purging for the next 8 years or so. I was always on a diet or beating myself up for NOT being on one. I really felt like it was just my fate: to be on a diet for my entire life. One day I was trolling the internet for thinspiration and came across a skinny person who talked about a book called Intuitive Eating. It changed my life.
I got the book and couldn’t believe what I was reading: if you just let yourself eat without guilt, your body will tell you when to stop. A brutal breakup gave me the “rock bottom” I needed to try something as risky as eating whatever the hell I wanted. Six months in, I felt like a completely different person. I have never binged or purged since.
I started sixmonthstosanity.com as a place where I could say all the things I want to say to people on a daily basis. There are just so many smart, funny, interesting women and men wasting so much time and energy buying into the messages of diet culture, and I’m dedicated to helping people realize that Intuitive Eating can actually work for any body.
It’s hard to break through the diet mindset. I think you have to encounter the message at just the right moment, and I want to be there for people when they hit that moment in their life. A random blogger changed my life, and I want to pay that forward to as many people as I can.