Have hope, chase joy, embrace life – recovery is possible.

To the -oh-so-lovely M.
[my mermaid – the dietitian who swam beside me during my first year of treatment],

You saw me through my first year of treatment, holding my hand as i took those first shaky steps towards recovery. You helped me to consider that my worth was greater than any number on a scale – that i deserved to recover. While it took me much longer to truly believe this, you helped to sow this seed of value in my soul – one which i would continue to nurture over the next two years, into the beautiful, flourishing blossom of self-worth that rests in my heart today 🙂

[From the ‘thankyou’ gift i made for M., when we finished our work together.]

To the brilliant M.C.
[the psychologist who gave me the space to discover ‘me’],

You were the first person to provide me with a space that was truly my own. At first I didn’t know how to fill it – it took me quite a while before I learnt how to “just say whatever comes to mind”. When we first began our meetings together, I filled them with the expectations & offerings of others, but as time went on, I realised that this was not a space for the ideas of others – it was a space for me to discover my own. And it was in these meetings, that I began to discover myself – one beautiful, hidden piece at a time 🙂

Thankyou for being consistent.
Thankyou for being reliable.
Thankyou for being here when I needed you to be, & thankyou for the times when you weren’t.
Thankyou for your silence, even though it made me uncomfortable.
Thankyou for your words.
Thankyou for the pushes when I needed them, & for supporting me when I needed to stay still.
Thankyou for helping me to feel safe again.
Thankyou for teaching me that crying is actually okay.
Thankyou for your lack of criticism, but thankyou also, for not always agreeing with me.
Thankyou for your reassurance.
Thankyou for giving me this space, & the time to learn how best to use it.
Most of all, thankyou for helping me to feel worthy of filling it.

[A bag i sewed as a ‘thankyou’ gift for C.T.
Yep – those are my feet!]

To the beautiful C.T.
[the dietitian who helped me explore an exciting lifeinfullcolour during my 2nd & 3rd years in treatment],

You taught me about so much more than food & eating. In teaching me to trust my body, you taught me to trust in myself. In encouraging ‘experiments’, you helped me to replace my fear with curiosity – & that curiosity has led me to discover beauty & wonder in every place I look. You helped me discover the things I value – you helped me to discover MY value.

Thankyou for your encouragement.
Thankyou for your smile 🙂
Thankyou for your patience – especially in the face of my many shoulder shrugs & “I don’t know”s.
Thankyou for your flexibility – for allowing me to work with you, in a way that worked for me.
Thankyou for your humour.
Thankyou for sharing you enthusiasm for nutrition with me – & for helping me to uncover my own shared passion.
Thankyou for your metaphors, analogies, & crazy hand-waving.
Thankyou for recognising, that the smallest of steps can sometimes be the hardest to take.
Thankyou for celebrating those steps with me 🙂

[Every cloud has a silver lining…]

M.C. & i had already said our goodbyes back in December after he moved on from his work at the ED service, but i had still been keeping appointments with C.T. C.T & i met again this past Tuesday, & although we had been working together for a couple of years now, there was something very different about this particular meeting…. This time our appointment was not for my ‘treatment’ – this time, we were celebrating 🙂

Three years after entering treatment for an eating disorder, i was ready to move on. And so, on Tuesday, the 8th March, 2011, after a beautiful celebration, i walked out of C.T.’s office, & through the door of the big cream building that was now so familiar. I walked out of that building for the last time as a client of the Eating Disorders Service & into the sunlight, ready to embrace the next exciting chapter of this beautiful lifeinfullcolour 🙂


[C.T. & i celebrated my recovery with my favourite raw, vegan chocolate cake 🙂
We even wore party hats ;)]

To those who have not experienced the devastation of an eating disorder (whether directly, or indirectly), there is little i can say to convey just how heart-wrenchingly painful, & overwhelmingly exhausting the journey to recovery can be. So many times i feared that i would never recover, or in moments of relative stability, found myself thinking that ‘this is as good as it gets’. But as overwhelmingly challenging as this journey has been, it has been equally beautiful. And you know what? My life becomes richer & more beautiful every day 🙂

I often refer to my recovery as a journey of self-discovery. I have learnt so much about myself – my likes, my dislikes, my strengths, my passions, my dreams… I’ve just begun to uncover my potential, & it is far greater than I could ever have imagined. I am vulnerable, yet strong, & more resilient than I know. I am beautiful, passionate, intelligent, creative, magnificent! And I have a courage that roars like an open fire in my heart.

For so many years of my life, I truly & deeply hated who I was, & I didn’t think that could ever change. But you know what? I really do love the person I see now – a magnificent, complex being, full of surprising beauty – & I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life getting to know her better 🙂

I feel such immense gratitude to be here now at this point in my life, & for every beautiful, scary, & painful moment that has led me to it. Sometimes I feel as though my heart might burst with all of the hope & joy & love it holds nowadays. I am grateful to have had these 3 years to heal, & to begin this incredible journey of self discovery, & I am especially grateful for having had access to the treatment I needed to save my life. I feel truly blessed to have been able to work with such an incredible team of people, & i am deeply grateful to everyone who has helped support me on this journey – i would not be here without you.


We made it through the darkness to the light
Oh how we fought, but still we won the fight
Oh, yes, we stand together
Sia, ‘The Fight’

With much love, & gratitude,

Supporting Sofia

“Sofia Benbahmed is engaged in two battles: 1 with an eating disorder, 1 with an insurance company. You have the power to help her win both.”

Last year Sofia Benbahmed entered residential treatment, so she could work on recovering from a 12 year battle with an eating disorder. But entering treatment was a battle in itself – Sofia’s insurance company would not agree to fund the months of treatment advised by the eating disorder specialists that had reviewed her case. But Sofia wants to recover, & decided to undertake a legal battle with her insurance company with the hope that they would agree to fund her care. But legal battles such as these take time, & with a severe eating disorder ravaging her body & mind, time was not something Sofia had a lot of.

So last year Sofia made the brave move of announcing to the world that she had an eating disorder – & that she needed their help.

With the help of friends, family, & many kind-hearted strangers from across the world, Sofia was able to raise the funds to enter residential treatment at eating disorders treatment facility, Monte Nido. As well as engaging in treatment, Sofia has also remained engaged in the battle with her insurance company, & her case is ongoing. With raised funds now running low, & an insurance company still refusing to fund her treatment, Sofia faces the potential of having to leave treatment prematurely, against her treating team’s recommendations for further care.

In her post ‘The Half-Baked Cake’, Carrie Arnold from ED Bites recalls a statement made by the clinical director of the Renfrew Center (for the treatment of eating disorders) in Bethesda:

Normally, you look in a cookbook for how long to bake a cake, and the recipe says to bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Managed care operates under the premises that you can make the cake at 500 degrees for 20 minutes and still have a finished cake. The irony is that often the cake looks done on the outside, but the inside is still completely raw. And if you let the cake sit for any length of time, the uncooked interior causes the whole cake to collapse.

After receiving less than half of the care her doctors recommend, Sophia is now faced with her own “Half-Baked Cake” scenario, & is again appealing for our help.

(Image via: We ♥ it.)

Why should you help Sofia?

Because, she deserves to live. She deserves a lifeinfullcolour, free from the torturous grasp of an eating disorder. And she deserves the chance to fight for that. Yes, Sofia is one of many. No, she is not any more deserving of treatment than any of the other thousands of people struggling with this illness. But she is also no less deserving.

Having lived a dark & tortured life at the hands of my own eating disorder, i know the struggle that Sofia is now facing. But i also know that the fight is worth it – recovery IS possible 🙂

When i first heard of Sofia’s fight, not long before she entered treatment, i was unable to contribute financially to her treatment. I am thankful today however, to be in a position where i am able to make a financial contribution to support her in this fight. Here is the message i left for Sofia, along with my gift:

Darling Sofia,

I believe in you.
You have been in treatment for 3 months already, & i am so proud of you & your determination to keep fighting this illness. It is a long battle, but i have so much faith in you. I know that you can win this war. Of course you may lose a few battles along the way, but i know that you have the courage to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, & keep fighting. Don’t ever give up that fight Sofia, because you are worth fighting for. Keep hope in your heart beautiful girl & know that i hold that hope for you in my own.

Have hope, chase joy, embrace life – recovery IS possible 🙂

If you are able, please consider making a donation to support this woman in her continuing fight for recovery – every little bit helps. If you are unable to make a financial contribution, you can still support Sofia by helping to spread the word – please pass this information on to your friends, family, & colleagues, so they may choose to make a donation if they are able.

To make a donation, please visit Sofia’s new GiveForward page.

Your support & generosity is very much appreciated 🙂

“I don’t have an eating disorder.”

I have uttered those words so many times in the past 4 years.

“I am not sick. I am not thin. I don’t need treatment. These is nothing wrong with me. I am fine, fine, fine, fine, FINE.”

Even after multiple hospital admissions due to complications from my disorder, even after starting treatment, i was still in denial for a very long time.

“I don’t have an eating disorder. I just have “food issues.””

In fact, it was not until my second year of treatment that i was able to admit to having an eating disorder. It was not until then that i could say those words & not feel like a fraud.

My thoughts last year, had been to finish up with treatment in December, just before the holiday break. Therapy had been going incredibly well & i had made a lot of progress, & my psychologist was also about to resign. My ED behaviours were under control, & any lapses were only momentary. My life was not lived according to the rules devised by my disorder, & i felt ready to pursue the next chapter of my life & my recovery on my own. Things came up however, & i felt rather overwhelmed – my biggest, & really my only lingering trigger for ED behaviours – & although i had stopped seeing my psychologist, i continued my connection with my dietitian.

Yesterday i met with my her for the first time this year – it had been 5 weeks since we’d last met. Those 5 weeks had been challenging for me in many ways, but not overwhelming. I had managed to navigate my way over, under, around, & through any challenges that had popped up, & i had resisted any urges to return to my disordered behaviours. I had enjoyed blogging here over the holiday break, & it had helped to keep me afloat during those challenging moments. It was not an easy time, but i got through it – the wonderful story of my life these days! 🙂

When we met yesterday, keeping in mind my progress, & my thoughts on finishing treatment, my dietitian asked me what i would like from our sessions – what did i need? Where to from here? It was a simple question for me to answer, & a joyous answer to give 🙂

“It might sound funny, because i guess i have known this for a long time, but it hasn’t really hit me until now… But i really do know what i am doing with food now. I know what foods make me feel energised & strong. I know which foods don’t. I know how much i need to eat to feel good, & how frequently. I know what it’s like to feel hungry, &  satiated, & i can respond to those cues – the way i eat now is determined by how i feel, rather than a set of ridiculous rules.  And i found myself thinking, “What else is there? I don’t think there is anything else.””

She agreed wholeheartedly with me, & with that we decided to meet once more, in a month, & if all is well to say our goodbyes 🙂

I have come to realise over this holiday break (& again, it sounds somewhat strange, even to me, that this realisation is only just “hitting me” now), that i don’t have an eating disorder. I am well & truly in recovery from an eating disorder.

I am no longer afraid of food. In fact, cooking & eating food is one of the greatest joys in my life! Most people i know would not hesitate to call me a “real foodie!” – a claim that is undeniably true yet equally shocking, for those who know of my past. In fact, it is true, that i have now discovered a freedom around food, that many of my friends & family are yet to acquire for themselves. Most of the time, i am able to eat very intuitively, eating what i want, when i want it, & trusting my body to balance everything out – i eat for enjoyment as well as nourishment. I love cooking & sharing food with others, & i love trying new foods. I. Love. To. Eat. 🙂

I am also incredibly accepting of my body now. Sure i have days where i look at myself in the mirror, & my eyes zone in on my thighs or my tummy, & i find myself thinking “My thighs are so fat. My tummy is so bulgy. I would look so much better if i lost a little weight”. Sure i have days where i feel utterly miserable based on whether or not i can fit comfortably into my jeans. But these thoughts & feelings now rarely dictate my behaviour – they don’t dictate how much i eat, how much i exercise, or whether or not i can leave the house. They don’t dictate my worth as a human being, as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter… I am lovely, & i am loved, & those things do not change in relation to my jeans size 🙂 It is now much easier for me to resist the urges to manipulate & reduce my body’s shape & size, because i know that those things have no bearing on who i am as a person – i know that what i look like does not make me any more or any less of a remarkable human being, & my self worth is no longer tied up in my appearance & my ability to manipulate it.

After 3 years of treatment, i am now able to say “i don’t have an eating disorder”. I can say those words & know deep within myself, that these are no longer words of denial. They are not a denial of my current state of health, nor are they though a denial of my past. I don’t have an eating disorder, but i did suffer greatly with one in the past. There are still some lingering symptoms & signs – the way restriction still pops into my head as an option when i’m feeling overwhelmed, the lingering digestive issues that my body & i are still working on healing, the struggle i have to moderate my level of activity…. But i do not have an eating disorder. Today, no words have ever felt truer than “I am in recovery.” 🙂

(Images via: We ♥ it.)

First of all, an apology to those of you who have been hanging out for this final post in lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) – i have been away for the past few days, & unfortunately didn’t have time to write up this post before i left.

Thankyou for being so patient! 🙂

If you are just joining us now, you might also like to go back & try the challenges from my previous posts in this series:

These posts were intended to give you a small taste of what life might be like if you ditched the deprivation & guilt that comes from a dieting approach to health & beauty. It was my hope to give you a taste of the alternative – a non-dieting, health at every size approach, which honours your body’s internal wisdom, & nourishes not only your body, but also your heart & soul. I wanted to remind you that you are worth looking after – you are deserving of your own kindness, love, & respect.

There is so much more out there to discover & learn about ‘Health At Every Size‘, & today’s post is about encouraging you & sharing a few simple ways that you might like to continue exploring the idea of HAES 🙂

A really great place to start learning more about a Health At Every Size approach & exploring what that could look like for you, is following blogs that encourage a non-dieting, self-nourishing approach to health. Sites that help you to dissect the messages you receive in the media & elsewhere about what it means to be healthy or beautiful, & give you an alternative perspective or course of action. Sites that remind you that you CAN be happy, & you CAN be healthy, no matter what your jeans size, & give you the encouragement & support you need to believe it.

Two of my favourite blogs, & two that you simply must explore, are Beautiful You, & Dances With Fat. Each of these blogs have really helped me to dissect the messages i had been recieving about my beauty & worth & helped me to unhinge these from my size & shape, realising that they are in fact two separate things & that my beauty & worth is not dependant of my size or shape.

Beautiful You taught me that i am worthy of love, respect, & self-care, right now. Exactly as i am. No exceptions – & certainly not an exception based on my body size! Dances With Fat taught me that it IS possible to be fat AND healthy, but more importantly, that being fat is not a reason to give up your life to dieting – you can live a beautiful & rich lifeinfullcolour WHATEVER size you are! 🙂

There are SO many other wonderful blogs out there though, & i encourage you to seek them out. A great starting point is to check out Medicinal Marzipan‘s list of Body Image Warriors, & Nourishing The Soul‘s list of Nourishing Blogs. Also, keep an eye out on lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page for shout-outs & links to other great pages 🙂

If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating, & perhaps starting your own journey towards normal eating, it’s really important to have support, & there is no better place to find that it than from a qualified dietitian. If you are in Australia, try the Dietitians Association Of Australia, or if you are in America, The American Dietetics Association.

Experiment with different foods. Rediscover old favourites. Make time to cook. Share a meal with friends. Go out for dinner at your favourite restaurant. Try a new restaurant. Notice the different textures of foods. Notice the different flavours. Eat by candlelight. Eat in the sunshine. Eat what makes you happy. Listen to your body. Eat what makes IT happy. Stop being so angry with pizza. Stop being so angry with yourself. Forgive. Enjoy 🙂

If you want to find joy in movement, forget what you’ve been told about “exercise”, & think outside the box. Think back to when you were a kid – play. Explore different ways of moving your body. Try rock climbing, soccer, hula-hooping – run off & join the circus! Dance, swim, bounce on a trampoline. Try yoga. Do somersaults. Cartwheel. Walk, skip, jump, & twirl. Swing, slide, or climb trees. Move because it is fun. Move because it makes you feel strong. Give up the torturcise. Explore & discover what makes YOU happy! 🙂

Remember –

And most importantly?
Remember that you CAN be happy, AND healthy, at any size! 🙂

Thankyou all for joining me this past week – it really has been wonderful to have you here 🙂 I hope you have found some enjoyment & value in my challenges this week, & i hope you they have been helpful in giving you a small taste of what it would be like to ditch the deprivation & guilt, & begin to nourish your body & mind. If you would like to share your thoughts with me on any of these challenges (or on anything else!) feel feel to drop by & leave a comment on lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page, or shoot me an email 🙂

Have a beautiful, glorious day 🙂

Day 5: Connection

Welcome to Day 5 of lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) – today’s theme is Connection 🙂

If you are just joining us now, you might also like to go back & try my Self-Care Challenge from Day 1,  Joyful Movement Challenge from Day 2, Intuitive Eating Challenge from Day 3, or Self-Acceptance Challenge from Day 4 🙂

Eating disorders flourish in an environment of disconnection & loneliness, but they can also help to create this environment.

Eating disorders are scary – my violent mood swings from frustrated screaming, to terrified & hysterical crying, to an impulsive mania, & back again, left friends & family asking “Where is the lovely girl i once knew? Will i ever see that sweet girl again?”. My grey-toned flesh & weakness, coupled with frequent trips to the emergency room left people terrified & wondering “Will this be the last time i see her alive?” It was a terrifying prospect, & one few people wanted to expose themselves to – out of fear many people removed themselves from my life.

Leaving the house had also become overwhelming, & the thought of having to eat something unplanned & unmeasured terrified me – after being turned down time after time, friends stopped inviting me out. neg used this as “proof” that everyone hated me, that i was a horrible person, & that i would never have any true & lasting relationships with people. I withdrew even further into my disorder.

(Image via: My camera! :))

The first few years surrounding my ED diagnosis, were the loneliest of my life. The lack of connection in my life left me feeling more hollow & empty than a lack of food ever could. But as i progressed through treatment, i began to reach out to people again – it was incredibly difficult, but i began to reconnect.

My treatment team & i now realise how important connection is to my continuing recovery – so much so, that my entire relapse prevention plan centres around it. While “me time” is also listed, things like talking to friends, maintaining contact with other positive body image activists, &  volunteering are all listed as important connections for supporting my recovery.

I try to maintain a sense of connection however i can, & today i want to encourage you to do the same!

Studies have shown that maintaining positive connections can not only provide a sense of companionship, or a shoulder to cry on, but can also assist us in maintaining our physical health, & even extending our life!

A study by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University in Australia, followed nearly 1,500 older people for 10 years, & found that those who had a large network of friends outlived those with the fewest friends by 22%. As well as helping ward off illnesses such as depression, a sense of connection has also been found to improve the health of people suffering cancer & cardiovascular problems.

Day 5 – Connection:

My challenge for you today, it to reflect & connect 🙂

  1. Reflect
    • Who?
      Who do you feel most connected to?
      Can you list 3 people in your life that you feel close to?
    • What?
      What activities make you feel connected?
  2. Connect
    • Who?
      How can you reconnect with the people you listed above?
      How might you connect with someone new?
    • What?
      How can you make more time in your life for the activities you listed above?
      If you are not yet engaged in them, how can you begin to incorporate these activities into your life?
  3. Make time for connection today 🙂
    • Call or visit a friend or family member
    • Say hello or smile as you pass someone in the street
    • Hug someone

How will you connect with someone today? 🙂

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today, where our theme of Connection will be permeating my posts. And please feel free to share with me there, or here on the blog how you have found today’s Connection Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! :)

(Unless specified, images via: We ♥ it.)

Day 4: Self-Acceptance

Welcome to Day 4 of lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) :)

Today’s theme is Self-Acceptance, but if you are just joining us now, you might like to go back & try my Self-Care Challenge from Day 1,  Joyful Movement Challenge from Day 2, or my Intuitive Eating Challenge from Day 3 🙂

(Image via: We ♥ it.)

In Day 1: Self-Care, i recalled the times when i had neglected my own needs in favour of taking care of others. What i was really conveying through that behaviour, was a belief i had that the needs of others were more important than my own – i didn’t feel that i deserved the same love & care that i was giving to others. I never felt deserving, because i never felt “good enough”. I was constantly striving to be better, more “perfect” – i felt i had to “earn” self-love & the love of others.

“You are not good enough” was a message that permeated my life, & i spent so many years trying to become “good enough”. I studied things i had no interest in because “i should”. I tried to get top marks because anything less was “not good enough”. I tried to change my appearance because there was always someone telling me i could look “better”. Can you relate to any of these things?


(Image via: We ♥ it.)

In all those years of trying to become “good enough”, it never occurred to me that i had the power to change what “good enough” meant. It never occurred to me that i could just stop & say to myself “Hey, you know what? You ARE good enough – who you are right now is good enough. You don’t need to change a thing to earn that.” It wasn’t until a year or two ago, that i realised the power of self-acceptance – “I might not fit everyone else’s definition of “good enough”, but that is okay. I am okay.”

To me, self-acceptance isn’t so much about accepting the way you look, as it is about accepting yourself as a person. I found that once i had learnt to accept & love myself as a person, it was a very natural progression to accepting my body. Once i realised what an amazing human being i am – & that i am worthy of acceptance & love exactly as i am right now – i stopped wanting to change myself, & that included changing my appearance. I realised that i don’t need to be flawless in order to be loved, & that it is entirely possible to love & accept who you are without loving your appearance.

The funny thing is, once i learnt to love myself as a person, once i stopped being so afraid of showing my true self, my true beauty was revealed to myself & the world – once i had learnt to love myself, i learnt to respect myself, & that was reflected in how i looked after my own body. Instead of looking at a pretty new dress & thinking “I don’t deserve it” or “I’m not thin enough/pretty enough/good enough to wear that”, i began to think “I’m worth it” instead. As Medicinal Marzipan says in her brilliant post “Thoughts On Being A “Pretty Fat Girl”“:

People will be attracted to you if you love yourself. That is a fact. And it often has very little to do with your actual weight. Because when you love yourself: you stand differently, you smile like you mean it, you extend kindness and warmth because you can see outside of your little shell of pain, and you dress in a way that is both comfortable and flattering instead of trying to hide your body away or make it something that it’s not.

And it’s really not about having a pretty face. It’s about having a compassionate and loving heart, and teaching yourself to accept your perceived flaws and make the absolute best out of every moment.

My challenge for you today is to explore your magnificence. Yep, you heard me – YOU are MAGNIFICENT 🙂

While self-acceptance is not just about accepting the parts of ourselves that we do like, it can be a good place to start. When we are caught up in thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve this”, it is easy for us to forget what it is we do like about ourselves, & to forget that we contain any wonder or magnificence at all.

Day 4 – Self-Acceptance:
Get your pens & paper out for today’s challenge, because it is list time! 🙂

  1. I am awesome because…
    Write a list of things you like about who you are as a person.
    Perhaps it is your compassion or kind heart, perhaps it is your quirky sense of humour, or perhaps your generosity & goodwill.
    Perhaps it is something entirely different! 🙂
  2. My body is awesome because…
    What do you like about your body?
    I like my quirky wayward eyebrow, & my pudgy little tummy.
    Perhaps you like the colour of your skin, or a special birth mark.
  3. I am good at…
    Instead of focusing on what you “can’t” do, or what you find challenging, focus on what you can do – each & every one of us has our own special talents 🙂
  4. I am learning to…
    What are you learning about yourself & the world around you?
    How are you growing & changing?
    Perhaps you are learning to play a new instrument, or perhaps you are learning something more intangible – to live a lifeinfullcolour perhaps? 😉

Aim for a minimum of 5 answers in each category, but feel free to write 50 if you’d like to! 🙂
And try not to beat yourself up too much if 5 seems difficult – many of us have been so conditioned to believe that we are not “good enough” that it can be difficult to see past that to our talents & beauty. But if you give this challenge a go anyway, that gives you some other things to add to your talent list – determination & bravery! 🙂

Try to keep your focus on these things throughout the day 🙂

Perhaps for an extra challenge (i know, i’m tough – aren’t i? :P), you might like to try practising some positivity – after all, there is no better way to change an “I’m not good enough” into an “I am awesome – just as i am” 🙂 (Which, you are – just so you know ;))

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today – & prepare yourself for a bombardment of posts inspiring self-acceptance & self-love! 🙂 And please feel free to share with me there, or here on the blog how you have found today’s Self-Acceptance Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! :)

Day 3: Intutitive Eating

Welcome to Day 3 of lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) :)

Today’s theme is Intuitive Eating, but if you are just joining us now, you might like to go back & try my Self-Care Challenge from Day 1, or my Joyful Movement Challenge from Day 2 :)

When i was very entrenched in my eating disorder, it was clear that i was not eating intuitively – my body & mind were starving, but i continued to ignore any signals of hunger. Other times, i would ignore my body’s signals of fullness. When i entered treatment, & began my journey to normal eating, it was of course extremely difficult, but that difficulty was made worse by the fact that by that stage, i was completely unaware of what it was like to feel hungry, & what it was like to feel full. After ignoring those hunger signals for so long, i could no longer recognise them. The simple message of “eat when you are hungry, & stop when you are full” was impossible for me, because i didn’t know what hungry or full was. And so i relied on a meal plan for quite a while, until those hunger signals returned to my awareness.

You don’t need to have suffered an eating disorder to have a complicated relationship with food & eating, or to be confused about whether you are hungry or not. Messages you may have received as a child, such as “eat everything on your plate”, can conflict with the dieting mentality of our adult world. With so many mixed messages around what we should or shouldn’t eat, how much, how frequently, it is no wonder that we feel confused!

Do any of these statements ring true for you?

  • I always “clean my plate”, eating whatever is on it, even if i am not hungry
  • I sometimes feel hungry, but don’t allow myself to eat because it not breakfast/lunchtime/dinnertime yet
  • I try to restrict my eating, & often feel hungry, but i try & use my “willpower” to ignore those signals
  • I sometimes eat beyond my hunger, & keep eating, even though i feel very uncomfortable
  • I avoid eating foods i really love, because they are “bad”, “fattening” or “unhealthy”
  • I sometimes binge on the foods i love, because i don’t let myself eat them very often
  • I find the message “eat when you are hungry, & stop when you are full” to be a real challenge
  • I often feel guilty about eating

What is “Intuitive Eating”?

Intuitive eating looks much the same as “normal eating“. It teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with food & eating, by encouraging you to trust in your own body’s wisdom. It teaches you to distinguish between physical & emotional hunger, & to make food choices that honour yourself & your body’s needs.

Intuitive eating helped free me from a fear of food. Most people who meet me now, would have no idea that i have struggled with an eating disorder, that i would cry over dinner, or could take 3 hours to eat an apple (yep – that actually happened once!). I am now able to recognise my hunger & satiety (fullness) signals, & i am able to trust in my body to look after my health & maintain my weight. I have a freedom around food that i never thought possible, but it took a lot of hard work to get here.

Intuitive eating can be really difficult, or even scary, but it IS possible to find peace in food & eating. If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating, & perhaps starting your own journey towards normal eating, it’s really important to have support, & there is no better place to find that it than from a qualified dietician. If you are in Australia, try the Dietitians Association Of Australia, or if you are in America, The American Dietetics Association.


(Image via: StumbleUpon)

Because i am not a qualified dietitian, i am not going to encourage or challenge anyone to change their way of eating. Instead, my challenge for you today, is to try & reconnect with your hunger & satiety signals.

Day 3 – Intuitive Eating:

  1. Notice
    Throughout the day, try to notice what your body is telling you about how hungry or full you feel
  2. Guage
    Using the hunger scale below, see if you can work out where you hunger fits on the scale

     

    • 10 – Stuffed – nauseous, ill, cannot eat any more
    • 9 – Very Uncomfortable – tired, bloated, may need to loosen clothes
    • 8 – Uncomfortably Full – feel you have eaten too much
    • 7 – Full – cannot comfortably eat any more
    • 6 – Comfortable – not hungry, not full – satisfied, but could “squeeze in” a little more
    • 5 – Slightly Hungry – begin to notice hunger, thinking about eating
    • 4 – Hungry – ready to eat
    • 3 – Very Hungry – stomach is rumbling
    • 2 – Extremely Hungry – irritable, unable to concentrate
    • 1 – Starving – weak, light-headed

Today’s challenge is all about exploration & awareness – try not to have any judgements around where you fit on the hunger & fullness scale at any given moment. Instead try to approach this challenge with a sense of curiosity & exploration, & remember this is not about changing how you eat, but about simply noticing your body’s experience. If you find this challenge particularly difficult, please seek out support.

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today, where our theme of Intuitive Eating will be permeating my posts. And please feel free to share with me there, or here on the blog how you have found today’s Intuitive Eating Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! :)

(Unless specified, Images via: We ♥ it.)