Having spent most of my teen years and twenties living with an eating disorder, I recall justifying a lot of my behaviors as ‘being healthy’.
I ate my protein and greens (when I did eat, or wasn’t secretly bingeing).
I exercised – pushing myself as hard and as often as I could with a steady diet of cycling, pump, and dance classes.
I worked hard to emulate the images of successful and attractive women that permeated popular media.
Being healthy was an addictive cocktail of punishment, restraint, discipline and a deep-seated loathing towards ‘failure’.
Failure was eating anything ‘bad’, weighing over 48kg and not being ‘perfect’ – academically and socially. (An impossible feat, then).
What an eating disorder taught me about being truly nourished
Recovery began in my 5th year at university, when I was working on my masters thesis in Psychology.
As I was going through piles of data and research, I began to look at my own eating issues with a similar level of curiosity.
I devoured books on psychology, gender roles, spirituality, and the influence of the media.
Tentatively, I practiced being an objective observer of my thoughts and emotions – viewing them as an opportunity to understand myself better.
Slowly, I stopped attacking myself and began the work of reconnecting.
(I had a lot of help. From psychologists, therapists and my own life coach. Just as my eating disorder was a secret, so too was my recovery).
Through all of this, my most pivotal learning, and one that I believe remains widely misunderstood, is that true nourishment resides in the wisdom of the mind, the spirit and the emotions.
It does not exist just in the body.
Our thoughts and feelings have a chemical effect on our bodies. Stress, repressed emotions,depression, anxiety, lives being lived half-assed – all have profound effects on our wellbeing.
Even our fears, hurts and sufferings need to be digested, along with our last meal.
Being truly nourished has just as much to do with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences as it does with what we are feeding ourselves on a daily basis.
- If you come home from a job that you secretly despise, is it any wonder that you feel drawn to sit in front of the television, inhaling a packet of Tim Tams?
- If you have been taught that anger is unattractive, and that good girls never fuss, doesn’t suppressing every ‘dark’ emotion suddenly make perfect sense?
- If you choose to ignore the same dreams and desires begging for your attention every day, year after year – is it possible that your discontent might manifest into physical symptoms?
Likewise, have you ever felt completely down in the dumps, and observed your mood instantly soar after your best friend shared some amazing news?
Have you committed to finally taking that trip overseas, going back to study, or starting your own business and been surprised that your skin suddenly clears up and you have boundless energy?
Life turns on a dime for sure …A simple shift in your emotional world can change your sense of wellbeing like a switch.
The beauty of it all is that deep and sustainable nourishment is not only achievable but completely within our power.
Yes we need to take care of our body with the right foods and strategies but we also need to observe our unkind thoughts towards ourself and others.
We can consume as many green juices and organic foods as we like, but if our hearts are filled with bitterness and we never take the time to connect with our loved ones and our surroundings – we will feel diminished.
Being truly nourished is discovering what we are truly hungry for and ensuring we leave the table satiated with love, nurturing, kindness, and something that makes our days feel worthwhile.
Asking ourselves over and over- what do I need? What do I need? What do I need?