Whether you have a clinically diagnosed eating disorder, are in a constant state of dieting, or are just restricting certain foods from your life, chances are, you are looking for control. All across the board, we are seeing women and men struggling with a life that seems so out of control, and they are just trying to hold on to something stable that they have physical control of.
When I think about the times my eating disorder was the most detrimental to my health, it was at periods in my life where I was feeling most out of control. Here are a few examples:
• Age 13: Eating disorder starts while in a very emotionally controlling relationship. It was my way of gaining attention and feeling more in control.
• Age 18-20: I moved away from home for the first time, had little money, and wasn’t enjoying college – I eventually dropped out. Life was spiraling all around me and I didn’t know where to turn other than my eating disorder.
• Age 23: My son’s dad and I went separate ways, and I realized I am gay. This resulted in a LOT of really confused feelings and I was really unsure of where my life was headed. Because of this, I turned to my eating disorder once again, in hopes of gaining a sense of control, while my life was a disaster all around me.
These are just a few examples of times when my eating disorder was extremely concerning to myself and others. I am able to tie specific happenings in my life with the times that my eating disorder was the worst, and the biggest similarity in all the situations is that life around me was out of control. So I must have been trying to gain a sense of control.
Last week, during my television interview on The Daily Dish, I was asked about control, and you know… it really took me off guard. I’ve always known my eating disorder was about control, but I’m just not sure why that is. And more importantly, what has changed to make me feel in control now without my eating disorder? That is what I want to focus on today. If you are feeling like your life is just a big whirlwind and you’re not sure how to find control, this is for you. There is no need for you to turn to your food to find a sense of this control. There are so many healthier ways.
Shift Your Mindset!
If you are heavily restricting foods, bingeing, or seem to be on a constant diet, you are probably feeling a sense of control. You are telling yourself, “Man! I’ve GOT this! My life around me may be out of control, but I can at least control this one thing!” This way of thinking is skewed, and it is time to turn the tables in your mind around! In all actuality, your disordered eating is contributing to the whirlwind around you. You are not in control at all. It is the FOOD that is in control of you. It is the ridiculously skinny air-brushed girls in magazines and on tv that are in control. You are letting society control you, and that is what is getting you in trouble. These outside influences should not be allowed to control your life. It is time for YOU to be in charge for a change!
Incorporating a healthy amount of exercise into my life made a huge deal when it came to my recovery from disordered eating. I felt as though I could truly eat the foods I wanted to eat because I was working out. There is definitely a fine line between a “healthy amount of exercise” and a whole other disorder of excessive exercising, so you still must exercise caution here, but this can be such an amazing outlet as you are letting go of a life controlled by food and transitioning to a life controlled by you. Knowing that the stress caused by making this shift can be combated by an awesome workout session is such a relieving feeling for me, and it is what gets me up most mornings to head to the gym or get to my yoga mat.
Stop Depending on the Scale
As someone who stepped on the scale every single morning (and there were periods I was hopping on every hour), I was giving a lot of power and control to an inanimate object. That’s just ridiculous, don’t you agree? I allowed my scale to tell me if I was going to have a good day or a bad day. I don’t know HOW that kept me in control! By letting go of the scale, I was able to base my mood on much more realistic things, such as my workout, how well I was eating mindfully, and my amazing life around me!
Control Your Environment
That’s right. You can, and SHOULD, control your eating environment. In order to really get hold of your eating habits, it’s so important to control the environment around you. Turn off your television so that you can truly focus on what you are doing while you’re eating and how you are feeling while you’re eating. Control WHO you are eating with. Make eating an enjoyable activity. Eat with your family. Talk about the happenings of the day. Make it positive. You can have control over the things around you and the experiences you have while you eat.
Find a Hobby and Take Control
I knew that when I changed my lifestyle and stopped focusing on food and my eating disorder, I would have a lot of free time in my mind, and I needed a way to fill it. That is where this amazing blog you’re reading was born. I needed to take control of my blog and make it mine. I know all the ins and outs of it. I’m able to control every piece of design work, content, and graphics, and I just love that. It is a healthy way for me to be in control of something. How about you find a hobby you can control. A committee, a playdate group, a blog, a meet-up, something! Pick something, and with a healthy amount of control… own it!
So what is it I would like you to take from this: I want you to see that there are so many other ways to gain a sense of control in your life without using food. I want you to break free from the control that food has over you! Just yesterday, I asked my Facebook friends what foods they wish they could eat without any guilt. So many people responded with different foods they felt guilty for eating. These foods have control over you. These foods are inanimate objects that should never have control over you. YOU get to have control because this is your life!