Hi Bridget, I love your blog and would like to thank you for your honesty and bravery coming forward and sharing topics of such a personal nature. You truly are an inspiration and reading your posts makes me feel like I’m not the only person who understands what it’s like to be anxious and confused and turn to unhealthy habits as a substitute. What I want to know is if you can relate to thinking about food all the time. Even if I tell myself I’m on a diet or that I hate my body, I’m constantly obsessed with food and recipes and I sometimes feel like I can’t stop. I know I turn to alcohol as a release and comfort, which I know isn’t healthy at all, but I was wondering if this is something you had experienced? Even if it’s not maybe you have some advise for me? Either way thank you for what you are doing. X
Hi there! Thank you so much for your kind words. Means the world to me J I’m really glad it is resonating – we are all humans with emotions. I believe that opening up helps so much more than pretending you are fine.
First off – food obsession. When I was very underweight, I would spend hours watching cooking videos. I would just watch instagram, and imagine eating all those foods. I would collect recipes, look at food porn and follow food accounts. It was super strange – I have never experienced that when I am eating properly. I recently read a book on the Minnesota Starvation Project (well worth a look into!) and learned that when the subjects were being starved, and at their lowest weight, they were also obsessed with food. They would eat their meals slowly and strangely, they would talk constantly about food, and they would compulsively read cook books. This obsession activates our cave man genes, to get off our butts and find some sort of food. So it makes sense that in times of reduced food intake, our innate reaction is to stimulate food desires.
In this vein, I advise you to never go on a diet again, and to stop hating on your body. Diets do not work. Hating your body is a waste of energy. Focus this towards positivity and body pride. The only thing that got me off the food obsession cycle was to begin to eat everything that I desired, combined with a hard ban on all food obsessed behaviors. For me this meant a social media ban for a few weeks, and as little time spent in the laptop as possible. I focused on all the mental space taken up by obsessing over food, and chose to spend time filling that space with reading and friends. Make the conscious decision to not dwell in the mirror for this period, because you will probably gain a little weight. Which is ok – use this as a project to be ok with gaining some weight. It will come off as your body balances out.
Another thing I would advise is to begin to see a therapist. This ties into the alcohol use – there is a reason why you are directing such hate towards yourself, and choosing to mask it with drinking. I was running in circles until I had someone gently stop me, and hold up a mirror to my behavior. It took time and patience, but I broke free. Now whenever I find myself desiring to eat less, I take that as a warning sign that something is wrong. And instead of acting, I choose to assess what it could be. It gives life a wonderful space, one that I wish all people could have.
I have definitely had periods of my life where I have relied on alcohol a little too much. I have never felt comfortable socially, and never mastered small talk. I prefer one on one socializing, and deeper conversations – qualities that I have grown to love in myself, but ones not exactly championed by our extraverted societies. Therefore I have definitely leaned on alcohol to make myself more relaxed and social. Then it is hard to stop and call it a night. Then I am filled with self loathing the next day.
It can be hard to figure out where you lie on the drinking spectrum – I am far from an alcoholic, but I have never been the person who can walk away after two drinks. It’s not exactly problem drinking in a societal way; I have never blacked out, attacked somebody, or gotten arrested. I have however been subconsciously aware that my drinking is not normal, and at times wondered if I should do something about it. I feel that many more of us fall under this category. The taste isn’t what keeps us coming back, it is the hole it fills. I can’t speak for any one else, but what helped me was deciding to spend long periods of time sans alcohol. I learned to socialize without drinking, and to have fun. However, the most important thing I learned was that nobody cares as much as you do about yourself. The level of self loathing directed at myself was compensatory for what I thought others were feeling at the hands of my awkwardness. But that was completely misguided. I realized there was no point hanging onto the self centered hate. I am just wired a little less socially. It means I have power in other areas. This does not make me a failure.
So, I say try out being sober. It will take a little getting used to, but you can have a huge amount of fun without drinking. There reaches a point in the night where everyone else is drunk, and it can be quite eye opening. Living a life without hangovers is awesome. Use the extra sleep and hangover free mornings to try out a new workout, one that empowers you, not diminishes you. Maybe it’s a hike, surf, yoga – whatever makes you leave feeling larger than when you started. Then I say do a hard ban from anything that makes you obsess over food. Ditch the diet mentality. Stop the self hate. And try eating intuitively for a while. You will start out eating quite badly (I know I did!). But then your body will start to crave healthy things. Everything will balance out. And you will get access to a whole new way of living – free and energetic.
The world needs you, and what you have to offer! So make the choices now to fill it, and empower yourself.
I hope this helps!