It’s finally time for Episode Two of the Ambitious Kitchen Wellness Series in partnership with Under Armour Women.
First, I’d like to say, thank you for the overwhelming positive response to my first episode and thank you for continuing to read my blog.
This episode is all about the power of food; how food has the capacity to nourish, overwhelm, exhaust, heal and comfort us. Some of us gather around the table every night or enjoy dinner out with friends without thinking about how much we’ll eat or when our next meal will be. For me, this has never been the case. I’ve thought about food my entire life.
Admittedly we’ve discussed this before on the blog, but what I never realized until the past year is that SO many women (and men) have a rocky relationship with food and often struggle with their body image, eating disorders and an obsession with healthy eating.
I still find today that there are limited resources online available to those who have struggled or are struggling with eating disorders. When I was first battling with my eating disorder, I had nowhere to turn. I didn’t know what to Google, who to call, or how to know that I needed something. I told my friends and mom, but no one can understand what it’s like unless you’ve experienced it.
What I do want to say is that there is hope waiting for you out there. A life full of happiness, joy and comfort outside of worrying about food or what you look like.
I personally no longer believe in counting calories. It’s never been a good mindset to me because I can easily get addicted to the numbers. Same goes for the scale. What I do believe in is eating nourishing food and practicing portion control, which is often easier said then done.
No one starts off by choosing to have an eating disorder, but rather it happens because of stress, diets, life changes, traumas and our environments. It’s important to realize that eating disorders are not just about food, but rather about what’s happening psychologically. My eating disorder started because of the obsession with calorie counting, but continued because there were traumatic events in my life that felt beyond my control, including losing my Dad. There were also emotions and feelings that I didn’t know how to express. I channeled this through food, the one thing I felt I could control.
For me, the best option was to choose to see a therapist who opened me up to so many beautiful mindsets I hadn’t had before. Here were some life-changing things I learned from her:
+What if food was just food? That there was no good or bad, but that you practiced eating all kinds of foods.
+The weight of your food choices weighs so heavily on you that it’s like carrying around a backpack of bricks all day, every day. What if you could take off the backpack and simply be free to live your life without so many rules?
+What are the foods you don’t allow yourself to have? I want you to have those foods. Just see what it’s like for a day, or a week. See how you feel.
+What if you loved yourself and your body for what it was capable of doing, instead of punishing it for what it looks like or what you ate the day before?
+What if you had a conversation with your eating disorder as it was separate from you? What would you say to your eating disorder if it was a person?
These simple reminders helped me more than anything. I also read self love and self help books because I needed a better understanding of my core and who I was as a person. The journey of self-discovery and healing is wonderful.
If you are looking for resources related to eating disorders, here are a few I recommend:
1. Project Heal
2. National Eating Disorders Association
3. Emily Program (only in MN, DC, PA and OH)
4. F.E.A.S.T. (resources for families)
5. Eating Disorder Hope (general education / awareness, treatment centers, etc.)
Finally, here’s the episode! I hope you all love it as much as I do.
Thank you to Under Armour Women for being an amazing partner. I love you guys.
Video: Gray Duck Creative
Thank you for opening up and sharing your experience with others who may, or may know others, going through a similar experience and looking for support.
Thanks so much for reading, Miriam!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Monique! Here’s to continued balance and wellness.
Thanks so much for reading, Liz!
A wonderful post as always. You seem to have such a level-headed and well-recovered view of regular eating nowadays and it’s great to see. As a fellow sufferer, I know how alone you can feel, but the things your therapist raised to you are all very powerful and meaningful questions. Thank you for this, and for spreading the word about recovery!
Thank you so much for the note, Kelly! Recovery is so important and SO possible.
Thank you for sharing. My emotional eating with food has been a daily battle but I am getting better. I allow myself to enjoy food as nourishment, not as punishment
I can totally relate to the daily battle – nourishment over punishment is so important. You got this Amy!
I SUPER loved this post and super resonated with it; being someone who exercises daily but struggles with an eating disorder, I totally agree that I’ve struggled to find concrete help in terms of nutritional recovery. Like you said, friends and family can only understand so much, and a therapist helps you work through all the internal issues. This trouble I have found since having worked through the internal issues has been the external (nutritional) change; I love that your blog encourages eating ALL foods in moderation, enjoying what you eat, and not counting calories. Even more, I love that you have that understanding of what it means to come from a lifestyle of restriction to a lifestyle of freedom with food. I’m still looking for that freedom, but you have no idea the encouragement your blog brings me in getting to that place.
I’m so glad you can find encouragement here – thinking of you, Maria!
love this. so open honest and real! there is not enough of this out there – i think we all struggle in some ways and it helps to know that you are never alone!
Sharing your experience will help SOOOO many others!
You are so right when you said that so many woman go through this. This started for me when I was a teen. However, there is hope and healing! There is a book called “The Look That Kills” by Michellle Myers that could be helpful. Thanks for sharing and my prayer is for healing and health for those going through this🙏
I’ll have to check out that book – thank you for the rec!
I appreciate how far you have come in your journey and your openness to share. However, it has always seemed not to fit your progress that most of the recipes have calorie counts posted. That seems counterintuitive to your purpose and supporting others who are trying to live in a more balanced way. However, things aren’t always what they seem and I acknowledge that there may be more to that than what I observe. 🙂
Hi Kristina! Thank your for your comment! Truth be told, I think it’s fair to post nutrition on my recipes — after all this is a healthy recipe website. Posting nutritional information is something I’ve done for a long time and most of my readers appreciate it; even citing that this is one of the most important factors when it comes to recipes (via my survey). The problem isn’t about posting the macro information, but rather it lies within what a person does with the information at hand. My blog wasn’t made for people with eating disorders (I just shared my journey), but rather those who are looking for healthy, balanced recipes — everything from desserts to healthy meals and snacks. Nutritional information isn’t just about calories, but also carbohydrates, sugar, serving size. It can be helpful to have a website dedicated to providing information. Just because I post nutritional information, doesn’t mean that I don’t support others or that I’m not a proponent of helping others achieve balance. I agree that calories counting isn’t helpful to finding balance, but I do think that having nutritional information available also helps to increase awareness with food intake and portion control. In fact, I find nutritional information to be empowering to help most people make healthy choices. So, that’s my rationale, and hopefully helps you understand where I’m coming from.
That all makes sense. 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful response!
This was a really interesting post! I appreciated hearing your perspective about restrictive eating, recovery, and balance. I just have a few questions/ comments that I have been meaning to post for awhile, but have put off because I have not wanted to seem critical or rude. First, I agree with Kristina in that it seems somewhat counterintuitive to say that you do not count calories and then show calorie counts for each meal (even more counterintuitive that they are posted for “healthy” meals but not desserts). I also have a question about why so many recipes are labeled as “skinny.” I understand this word is supposed to imply “healthy” or “good for you” but I think it has such a loaded meaning. When labeling a margarita as “skinny” and implying it means “healthy”, this is essentially saying skinny is good. I guess I have just always had a problem with labeling foods this way. I understand that balance and health look different for everyone but I fear for girls/ women who are in the process of recovery and are trying to make “skinny” recipes, or follow a meal plan that still refers to “cheat days” and “treats” as if one food is good and one is bad. I guess to me, recovery should be 100% free, and not restrictive whatsoever. I think many times people “recover” from eating disorders but still have many underlying restrictive habits rooted in orthorexia and fitspo culture, which is essentially still an eating disorder, just masked as something else. It is easy for those people to see blogs that promote balance and follow them wholeheartedly, which may or may not be a good idea. Like I said, I appreciate your post but just wanted to raise my concerns.
Thanks for your comment. I’ll provide a little bit of perspective for you when it comes to my rationale for posting nutritional information; I say nutritional information because that’s exactly what it is. It’s not just about the number of calories, but also about serving size, carbs, fiber, sugar and protein. I mentioned above that I believe nutritional information provides awareness, and this is for people of all shapes and sizes. Of course there are plenty of other ways to shift healthy awareness, but I do think that having nutritional information is empowering and often times very helpful. Sometimes I think that we forget that nearly 50% of Americans are overweight and often are looking to make a change in their diet. Just because I’ve had an eating disorder, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be able to help others who are looking to make a dramatic shift in the way they approach food. Or provide someone with fiber and protein information if they are looking for something nourishing pre/post workout, or even for a new mama who is looking to get in extra calories for her and her baby, or because she’s breast feeding.
I find it a little unfair for someone to judge or cast a blanket on the idea of recovery, because we all have our own stories, journeys and lives. I’ve spent a long time recovering in MANY different ways, from grieving trauma, working out anxiety, working on my mental health and discovering my own unique perspective in this world, particularly what works for me when it comes to food and exercise. I’m not saying that what I’ve experienced is everyone else’s either.
This website isn’t devoted to those struggling with eating disorders and it never has been. What this website IS about is nourishing, healthy recipes, stories, and inspiration. 🙂 Rather though this series, I am just sharing my personal experience because it’s freeing to me, and I also think it gives others a chance to feel empowered to share their journey, whatever that may be. I’m not perfect, nor do I claim to be.
To answer your question about recipes labeled skinny: I have around 6 recipes labeled skinny out of 500+, so your comment seems a bit exaggerated, however ususally when something is labeled skinny it means that it’s just a bit lighter than an original version. Perhaps it is loaded, but I also think it’s just an easy, fun word. Maybe I need to be more sensitive to the ED community on that one, so thank you for pointing that out. I appreciate it.
I agree that there is a problem in the online community rooted in orthorexia and the CRAZY obsession with ‘clean eating’ taken to an extreme. That being said, I also think that it’s OKAY to still want to eat healthy meals, promote health and fitness and LIVE LIFE! Or to feel inspired to eat a little better by following someone who enjoys a nourishing smoothie for breakfast made with really interesting ingredients. It’s a fine line between inspiration and obsession, no?
Finally I want to say that just because you’ve had an eating disorder and recover, shouldn’t prevent you from being a voice out there. That’s exactly what I wanted this wellness series to be about, which is where I’ve been and where I’m going. I’m not perfect and I make mistakes, just like any other human being out there. I know I can’t make everyone happy but life is a journey and I always appreciate hearing other’s perspectives, so thank you for your comment. 🙂
I really really appreciate your response, thanks for being so willing to hear what I had to say. I never thought about the nutritional information in the way you described it, so that makes a lot more sense. Thanks for explaining it! I am always thankful when women can have respectful conversations online without them turning into judgemental filled blowouts 🙂 thanks for all you do and for taking time to hear me! Wish you nothing but the best.
Reading about your experience has resonated with my relationship with food so much. It used to be in my mind every waking moment. Eating disorders such a complex sensation that I think most people don’t feel comfortable acknowledging them and don’t know what to do. I’m glad that you’ve found light at the end of the tunnel and are benefiting others by speaking out about it.
Thanks Cassie! Agreed — very complex, so speaking up is a great place to start.
This post is wonderful, thank you for sharing! I love the shot of you joyfully eating a donut – so many sites/blogs talk about everything in moderation and balance but only include light or “healthified” versions of treats. While I appreciate the value of adding nutritious value to some classic indulgent foods, I’ve recently realized I was still keeping many foods completely off limits. It has become such second nature I didn’t even realize it! Blogs like yours are so helpful for me as I strip away the remnants of my ED and get closer to FULL freedom with food.
Thanks so much for your note, Beth! I’m glad you’ve found this blog helpful for you – there are tons of better-for-you treats here, but I completely agree that sometimes you just need a good ol’ donut 🙂 Have a great rest of your week!
Monique, I just want to say THANK YOU!! I have been making your recipes for years – you are my “go-to” food blog for every occasion – but I only recently started reading your wellness posts. I am not usually one to comment but I feel compelled to tell you how very comforting your blog has been for me. I recently started seeing a therapist for an eating disorder I wasn’t able to acknowledge for a long time. Like you, it was a way to gain control in my life after my parent passed away. Also like you, I grew up in Minnesota! You are the most real and relatable beacon on this journey towards wellness. Your blog is like a great friend I never knew I had. Fun, honest, great sense of humor, loves food, loves to travel and try new things…thank you thank you for being authentically you and sharing your story. You have made me see that I don’t need to be defined by my eating disorder and that there is fun and adventure both beyond it and within it as I find balance. <3
Hi Laura! Thank you SO much for your note. I’m so glad that you’re finding both food & wellness inspiration here. I love what you said about having fun and adventure while finding balance – it’s incredibly important. Thinking of you during your wellness journey, and know that you’ll always have a friend here! <3