“I am not my habits”

If you know me, you know food is my love language. I’m a self proclaimed cupcake enthusiast who writes for Duke Spoon, loves to eat, and loves to bake. I studied abroad in Florence and ate gelato every day for 4 months. I’m passionate about nutrition, exercise, and health. I jump at the chance to make others feel loved through baked goods. And I hope to share my passion for food with others.

But food is also my enemy. I’ve been on diets since age 13, telling myself I’ll finally be “happy” once I lose 20 pounds. “Maybe I’ll have more friends when I lose weight; I’ll be more attractive, more successful,” I think. Every day is a battle between self restricting and self indulging. I’ll go several meals without eating – claiming I’m not hungry – then later that night find myself over-eating so much that I feel physically ill. Then comes the regret, the guilt, and the shame.

The cycle starts all over again.

My self-confidence each day is directly tied to how much I’ve eaten and whether or not I’ve exercised. I have to remind myself to stop looking at the size of other girls’ legs, because I am never going to have that thigh gap that is so ridiculously emphasized in our culture. My muscles are not going away. I’ve never been satisfied with the way I look, no matter the number on the scale. Even though I’m not diagnosed with a DSM-5 eating disorder, I undoubtedly have disordered eating habits.

So I’m tired of denying it, and I’m tired of doubting myself. Yes, I love food, but I hate what it does to me. We have to stop shaming each other for our bodies and start focusing on health – a priority that is too often sidelined. I’m done with mental health being delineated into “disordered” or “not disordered.” Because we’re all dealing with something, and it’s time to start talking about it.