Written by: Zoe Speirs, contributing writer. Follow more of her journey on her Instagram, @boporecoverywarrior.
“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”
– Paulo Coelho
When I first embarked on my recovery from an eating disorder, I remember thinking I could never trust myself around food: to know when to eat, when to stop, how much to have, what to eat, what times to eat, and so on. The constant torment that I no longer knew how to do something so many knew how to innately terrified me. I wanted to rewind to when I was a child and could fully trust my body to know what it needed and when. I was terrified that I would never get back to that. That even in recovery, I would always have one foot stuck in this need to control, never knowing if I could trust my body again.
It can feel impossible to actually let yourself trust your body and trust yourself around food. I KNOW how hard it is. It can feel like you’re stuck in this cycle of not being able to let go of the control. So here are three tips that have helped me rebuild my relationship with food and rediscover my brain-body connection:
1. No food is out of bounds. You need to break down those rigid rules that your eating disorder had in place for you. There is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food – food holds no moral value. It doesn’t dictate whether you’re a good person or worthy purely because you ate kale. Nothing bad will happen to you if you let yourself enjoy all food groups. Yes, that includes those homemade cookies your eating disorder has deprived you of.
2. Once you’ve established that you can eat anything, you might feel the need to eat everything you’ve deprived yourself of for so long. I honestly thought I would never stop having the urge to eat peanut butter and brownies. But if you let yourself eat what you crave and however much you need, these intense cravings will start to die down, and you’ll start craving things like broccoli too! You’ve spent so long denying yourself of what you want and need, that your body is trying to get everything it’s not allowed before it’s taken away again. It takes time for your body to realise that these foods won’t be denied anymore. This part is scary, and I completely understand. I was terrified. But if you trust yourself enough to let your brain-body connection rebuild, I promise you things will settle.
3. So you’ve started rebuilding your relationship with food and letting the brain-body connection re-establish. But what about your weight? This can be really scary, especially in eating disorder recovery. I urge you to throw away your scales and just let your body do what it needs to do. Your weight will settle at your set point – it will be exactly where it needs to be. Here’s one of my favourite affirmations that helped me accept changes in my weight: ‘My body may become bigger in the future, and it may become smaller, but whatever it is right now, is exactly how it has to be’. Your body is just a vessel to carry you, so let it decide what’s best for it.
Trusting yourself around food is hard, but it is so worth it to finally let go and be able to live. However, it’s important to remember that with all this in mind, you need to trust that you are capable of recovery. That although recovery is hard, scary and will involve a lot of hard work, that you are worthy of it. You are worthy of reclaiming your life. You are worthy of practising self-care and setting boundaries to help you through these tough times (and any time really!). Trust yourself to do what’s right for you.
Look after yourselves beautiful people – the road might be bumpy, but with trust, we can move forward.