Welcome back to the story of my struggles with eating, food, my body, and self-esteem! Despite being The HealthShrink, I’ve had plenty of long-term challenges in my relationship with food over the years. Back and forth, losing weight, gaining weight, losing self-esteem, and, then gaining some esteem back. That was the problem though. My inner feelings with regard to whether I was a good person or not, a success vs. a failure, pretty vs. ugly, smart vs. stupid, valuable vs. insignificant, etc., were all tied up into a gigantic knot over my body size.
I know my experiences are not necessarily unique. So many of us have had this same difficult struggle supporting and believing in ourselves. It’s too easy to get off the ‘truth trail’ and led astray onto the ‘road of nonsense’. What’s the ‘road of nonsense’? Believing we’re not good enough exactly as we are today. Thinking we need to lose weight to increase our goodness and overall appeal. Looking for love and acceptance from others before we even grant it to ourselves.
We’ve all grown up in a society that puts enormous pressure on how things are supposed to be. And, that includes us and how we’re supposed to be. I was striving to fit in and wasn’t quite sure how to do so. I didn’t possess the correct body equipment – no long, blonde, straight hair, flat-chested, muscular, no blue eyes, not thin enough, etc. How could I ever be beautiful? I believed I might as well give up, accept my shortcomings, and feel miserable forever. In short, I was not enough of some things and too much of other things. I’m sure you can relate.
I persisted for the ‘truth trail’, as I hope you will. I learned a lot about food in general. Sugar, I read and was told, is equivalent to public enemy #1. It does a whole bunch of bad for our bodies, and is super addictive to boot. Yes, addictive, like cocaine, heroin, alcohol, nicotine, etc. According to studies done with rats, sugar appears to be even more addicting than cocaine! And, you can 100% count on the food industry knowing this. They also know that if sugar, fat, and salt are combined and added into a processed food, that our brains start shooting endorphins and dopamine before we even take our first bite!
I discovered I was pre-diabetic and have, over time, curbed my sugar intake a lot. That also applies to carbs like bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, and more. Did you know that moments after you take a bite of bread that it converts to sugar? It does, and now you know.
I was also diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disorder which attacks the thyroid. I’ve learned with any auto-immune disease that it’s best to stay away from gluten. I happen to be extremely sensitive to gluten, so stay away I have. That’s been another process.
Do you love cheese? I do! Do you have a hard time not eating cheese once you start? Me too! I began working with functional medicine doctors, and with testing, discovered my brain is highly reactive to the casomorphins₁ in cheese. This means that when I eat cheese specifically, my brain fires up in the same way it does with sugar and gluten. In short, I’m addicted to cheese. The casomorphins have an opioid impact. Who knew?
I’m aware of this situation and when I eat cheese even to this day, frequently I overeat. But, the difference is now I don’t become infuriated with myself for indulging. I take it with a grain of salt and know that the cheese binge will go on for only a short period of time. And, I like to look at the big picture. In the grand scheme of things, overeating cheese here and there is okay. I’m still valuable, lovable, and beautiful. So are you!
What I’ve done with this information, is to slowly but surely, upgrade the quality of my food and eat nutritiously. I go out of my way to prepare meals I thoroughly enjoy though. I don’t contribute many dollars to the food industry’s processed ‘carbage’ and sweets. I feel good about that! I also don’t buy much cheese, and when I do, it’s cheese made from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. I feel proud and empowered over cleaning up my act and becoming much more informed.
I continue to work-out, but with less severity. My work-outs take into consideration that I have Hashimoto’s, which is energy depleting. I’ve also incorporated much breathing work into my work-outs creating an East/West blend of influences. Most of all, I try to have fun when I move. I don’t believe that working-out can only happen in a gym. Whether I walk about in the City, climb 8 flight of stairs to see my doctor, bike the neighborhood, play volleyball, tennis, etc., all is healthy, pleasurable movement. This has been key to my healing and feeling better in touch with, and more mindful about, my body.
Besides learning about healthy food and body movement, the biggest change in my relationship with food, eating, and my body, was allowing myself to truly love myself as I am right now. I believe in myself much more, I respect myself, and, I really like who I’ve become. I care about people and try to help them when in pain. When I can do or say something that enhances how another feels and/or perceives, I feel great!
I don’t look to my body shape or others for self-esteem. I get that from inside. I’m more relaxed about what I eat because I’ve weaned myself off addictive junk foods. And now that I’m more confident, I can and do eat a goody here and there. When I do though, it’s with calm and mindfulness vs. lack of attention and then angst.
In summary, I’m happy with myself short, brown hair and all. I’ve given up trying to be someone else’s ‘perfect’. I’m really enjoying my life now as it unfolds. I’m focused on growth, learning, and evolution. I also tremendously respect and appreciate my body. It is the temple for my soul. Your body is the temple for your soul. At this point in my life, I wholeheartedly embrace, “Beautiful Olive Oyl, Beautiful Me!” Hallelujah!
₁Protein fragments derived from the digestion of the milk protein, casein.
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