Learning to eat again - a personal story

Submitted by Tracy Stewart

After years of manipulating my body, the thought of giving up this kind of control was devastating but that is the nature of an eating disorder. As much as I thought I knew my body I actually lost touch with my body completely. I had also lost touch with my own feelings and with who I was. I did not have hunger signals anymore. At times I would binge because I did not know when I was full. There was an endless internal battle going on inside of me as a result of my eating disorder and it was slowly killing me. I would have constant feelings of guilt for starving my body but would have even stronger feelings of guilt for giving up the control and eating. It is only when I began with the recovery process that I began to realise how out-of-touch I was with my own body.

Something as simple as putting a piece of food in my mouth had become an extremely challenging task and I had to learn how to eat. This did not come naturally to me. I had to admit to myself that what I was doing to my body was not natural and that it was unhealthy. I knew it would eventually kill me but the power of addiction cannot be underestimated. I thought I would feel out of control but the recovery process has actually empowered me. I have never felt healthier in my life. I now know more about my body and nutrition than I could ever have imagined. I just had to trust the professionals and to listen to my body. My dietitian taught me that my body is not working against me and that it doesn’t want me to be fat – it’s not a normal healthy condition for the body to be in. If you give your body what it needs, what it’s asking for, it will reward you in so many ways. My hair has stopped falling out as it used to.
I now get my energy from food. I have not had one stimulant in over 100 days.

The first steps are scary and some days are more challenging than others but recovery is a blessing. My body thanks me every day. I have not dramatically gained weight. My body is burning every bit of food that I put into it. I follow my meal plan and am slowly building up more courage to take the odd risk to try new things. This takes time but it’s important to go at your own pace. I am always cold and after talking to my dietician, she indicated that my body is clearly sending me a message. It needs more fuel especially as the season is changing. I’m going to take that next step and increase some of the carbs and fats in my diet otherwise I will freeze this winter. These are all signals that I ignored when I succumbed to my eating disorder. It’s sad to think that the more uncomfortable I was, the more I punished myself, the better I thought I would feel.

While I was harming my body to the extent that I was, I thought I was numbing all of the pain and protecting myself of uncomfortable feelings. The reality of my eating disorder is that my problems and pain never went away. I just refused to confront them and they manifested in extremely unhealthy ways. Self-destruction is certainly not an answer. I’m learning to become my friend. I feel sad for that person that starved herself and deprived herself of health and nutrition. Now that I’m in recovery I have so much more respect for my body. My body is the greatest gift that I could have been given.

Read more on choosing what to eat.