There are a million movements aimed towards normalizing heavier women, yet everywhere I turn, there is a reminder of how much bigger I am than everyone else.
And while I've always been larger, it's never been like this.
I want to love myself the way that these naked big bellied women on Instagram do, but I don't believe I'm larger because of how I was made. Instead, I believe I have an addiction to eating that is unhealthy. As a result, I don't feel good physically, regardless of what anyone thinks I look like.
Friends, family, lovers, and especially children don't understand the emotional and mental impact they can have on you when it comes to their comments or suggestions regarding what you look like- even outside of weight.
I've lied to myself for too long about being content with my size, and don't get me wrong, there isn't anything that my size has prevented me from doing necessarily. I have options. People would pay to watch me eat cupcakes online. Cupcakes are great.
I'm joking of course. In 2018 though, I have made a commitment to myself in all aspects of life with my health falling towards the forefront. This means addressing what has been causing me to be overweight for so long.
When people initially think of an eating disorder, they think of someone small and fragile who doesn't eat much or vomits their food. Nobody really acknowledges the other end of the spectrum, which is incredibly scary because the National Eating Disorder Organization has labeled binge eating as a severe and life-threatening eating disorder.
It's not really a taboo subject, it's more so just closeted. Literally. I prefer to eat alone. I eat passed the feeling of being full and find myself in need of time to recuperate from meals because I feel sick. I order more than I know I need everywhere I go, every single time. I go back for seconds and thirds.
If not already, I wish I was alone so I could eat more. I can eat until I am immobilized temporarily.
Consequently, my body has become a reflection of this.
I don't know exactly when this all started. One of my most common binges is pasta and I do know it was my grandmother's favorite thing to cook and eat with me and my brothers at dinner. We would all get pasta bowls topped off with tons of parmesan and could probably clear a pound each during a Disney movie.
So maybe it started off as a loving, bonding habit but it definitely didn't stay that way.
At the beginning of my twenties, especially in my first place alone...I remember I cried a lot when I would eat. I haven't done that in quite some time because I've learned how to zone out when I find myself binging these days.
In my earlier years, when my mother started locking certain foods up, I started hoarding them. Even worse, I found myself craving them so intensely that when I had the opportunity to eat something unhealthy, I went H.A.M.
I think everybody has self-destructive habits and demons they are fighting off for whatever reason. Mine just happens to be something that I have to physically carry around.
I try to explain to friends what it feels like to have no control, but nobody really gets it. Everyone thinks it's just a matter of self-control.
I'm not lazy - binge eating is legitimately a neurological addiction.
It's a reward system that creates an obsession and craving for certain foods that I'm likely to sit down and indulge in. Logically, it doesn't make sense because I have done this 3-4 times per week, but I always tell myself I'm doing it as a "goodbye" feast. You know, I can have two orders of large fries for breakfast and three bowls of spaghetti for lunch because when I wake up tomorrow, I'm starting over.
The reality though is that the foods I'm inclined to binge are always of low nutritional value and leave me feeling lethargic and unmotivated even well into the next day where I continue to make the same decisions. It's never the last time, it's never "goodbye."
As a mother now, I have a deeper understanding of how things in your childhood can end up affecting you for the rest of your life.
I want to make sure this is something my daughter never has to deal with so I'm going through the motions to heal myself so that she has a healthy relationship with food.
She is only three, so it is important that I make sure she is eating enough, but for the most part, she will stop eating when she is full. I'm not going to force her to finish, or eat things she hates like I had to do growing up.
Outside of staying proactive about not passing on all of my f-cked-up-ness to my seed directly, I've been super adamant about self-healing. Now, binge eating is not something that can be cured overnight. In fact, it involves a wide range of tactics and strategies that vary depending on what level of addiction you find yourself at with any drug.
Yes, food can be a drug, anything you can get addicted to in an unhealthy way can be a drug.
Here are a few things that have helped me navigate through this illness and my constant fight toward recovery:
- Meeting with a therapist. Outside of my personal traumas and lost loves, we work on mindful eating. Not eating in front of the television or computer prevents me from zoning out. Taking breaks in between bites to assess how I feel as I eat helps too - my therapist taught me that!
- Eating regularly. I now even have timers set up that go off, reminding me to eat something every two to three hours. Even the smallest of snacks keep me from feeling so famished that when I do get to a meal, I end up inhaling it.
- Relatability. Reading about other people who struggle with the same issue has been huge for me. It's easy to get caught up in believing that this is an uncommon thing because of how it's done in private accompanied only by guilt and shame.
- Getting it in. If I get any kind of workout in for the day, I'm much more likely to hold myself accountable for what I'm putting inside of my body! Workouts are tough for me, so I usually don't want to feel like I did something that was a waste!
- Keeping it real. I recently started being more transparent with friends about the fact that I even have an eating disorder. Some people still feel like it's something I can easily fix, but having people aware of what's going on with me creates accountability partners and the support I need to stay on track. Not everyone will understand or take it seriously, but those that do make the transparency worthwhile.
- Freedom. Another important factor is not having crazy dietary restrictions. If I want a cookie, I just have a cookie. It is much worse to believe that because I want a cookie I must eat the entire box and start again tomorrow.
All in all, the bottom line is, I might not always have a tomorrow and I want to start living my life full of energy, out loud, and comfortably. There will be slip-ups, and it will continue to be difficult, but I'm excited about challenging myself to really committing to changing myself and improving my health this year!
If you yourself are struggling with any kind of eating disorder, know that there is help for you and someone willing to listen and someone going through the same thing you are. The National Eating Disorder helpline is 800-931-2237 and you can speak with a live chat representative on their website.
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