Lockdown, me & food

neon sign against a brick wall which says EAT. Neon sign has a red background and text is in yellow

TW: disorderly eating and bulimia.

I, like so many of us put on weight this year. It felt like one day I woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed what looked to me like huge, red, blotchy stretch marks, surrounding my hips and thighs. Most of my clothes no longer fit and I was disgusted at myself for what society would deem as ‘letting myself go’. Rather than being logical and putting it down to my body trying to cope with the trauma of a global pandemic and also not being as physically active because we were being forced to stay at home, I felt like I had lost control.

2020 turned everybody’s world upside down; our routines were shattered and we had to repeatedly find the strength to pick ourselves up and carry on. Having had anxiety for years, being in control (or rather feeling like I am in control) has been a small coping mechanism. The pandemic blew away all the sense of control I had on my life and so I turned to food to try and get it back.

I started to restrict. It became a kind of game, seeing how long I could go without eating anything – the longer I went the more rewarding it would feel. I’d get a rush of endorphins from feeling light headed. I used to eat a Kit Kat Chunky and feel absolutely no guilt but now it feels like the ultimate sin. Trying to restrict food groups – like sugar and fat that are always portrayed as the devils of foods – just leads to bingeing those food groups you were trying to cut out. Restricting is designed to fail; leaving you feeling depressed, anxious and overwhelmed, which then leads to eating to try to pacify those negative emotions, and then you start restricting again, convincing yourself that this time it will work!

In September I was diagnosed with Bulimia, which I struggled to get my head around as I don’t purge (force myself to throw up). Then on further research, I realised that by bingeing, then fasting (restricting) and doing excessive exercise I am in fact purging.

Yet, I still struggled with the diagnoses. Eating disorder victims are still predominantly portrayed as stick thin, white teenage girls, models or ballerina’s who are starving themselves to fit societies warped ideals of the ‘perfect’ body. It is starting to get better – Freddie Flintoff’s BBC documentary about living with Bulimia for the last 20 years highlighted that it’s not just a female illness but increasingly prominent in Men. However, there is still so much stigma around older, marginalised, ethnic and larger bodies having eating disorders.

I still have days where I don’t believe my eating disorder is real, often feeling like I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill. Many of my friends have been battling much worse eating disorders for years. But trying to pretend it’s not there and ignoring it haven’t made it go away. Fantasising about how you are going to restrict or obsessing over how much food you should/shouldn’t eat is dieting – it is disorderly. We should treat every eating disorder, no matter how big or small it appears to be to others with the same urgency and delicacy.

Christmas was a difficult time for me, feeling like I had lost control when I ate past the point of fullness, beating myself up for over indulging. The fridge suddenly becoming full to the brim with leftovers felt overwhelming. So I’ve gone back to Just Eat It by Laura Thomas PhD; just reading a page is a reminder that so many of my internalised thoughts are from years of absorbing the toxic diet culture which surrounds us.

This is not a story of overcoming an eating disorder. Like anxiety, it will always be there. I am at the middle of the story; navigating coping mechanisms and still, months later coming to terms with and accepting the diagnosis. I am proud that I was quick to seek help and am slowing finding the courage to openly talk about it, which shows just how far I have come.

If you are struggling at all with food and eating here are a few resources (UK based) that provide professional help and support:

16 Comments

  1. I can so relate with you. I’ve been a binge eater all my life – I’d eat when I’d be happy, I’d eat when I’d be sad, I’d eat to curb my boredom, I’d eat after a breakup. At the heaviest in my life (after a particularly bad breakup) I weighed 100kgs. 😓 It was only when I reached a better mental space that I was able to get into a healthy relationship with food. I started making a lot of salads and started experimenting with healthy food. I started working out and lost 35kgs! But this year was hard on me again mentally and I felt myself slip into old habits. I stopped working out because the gym was closed and started relying on food to make me happy. I put on 7kgs this year and it has me freaked out. I tried home workouts but they just don’t work for me. Now I’ve bought myself a cross trainer and treadmill – to make sure I workout everyday. It’s been a difficult year – but I hope we’re able to take care of our health better next year. 🤗🤗

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you and thank you for sharing your difficult relationship with food. Remember it’s diet culture and fat phobia that tries to convince us that how we look matters, it’s just the industry trying to take our money for stuff that rarely works ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so happy you are able to talk about this openly —you are helping so many others who may be scared and sometimes ashamed to admit to eating disorders. The documentary by Freddie made a huge difference into how we react to eating disorders. Especially with the year year coming, I have seen a lot of social media posts about making “losing the lockdown weight” as one of the resolution.
    So much so that, I was thinking about it myself. But I don’t want to create toxic relationship with food. Dieting culture is something I am so scared off, it makes you lose your sense of perspective.

    P.S Love ten mirror picture💕💕

    PSS, Sorry for this awfully long comment. Just remember you got this🧡 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ❤ Well done for ignoring the NY resolutions, diets are designed to fail and create such a toxic relationship with us and our bodies. xxx

      Like

  3. You’re so brave for sharing this! Thanks a lot for that and I wish you all the best!! You’re already done so much by seeking help and sharing your story with others. Way to go!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re right in saying that it never goes away… but that doesn’t mean that it needs to be present. We have all struggled in some way this year, and I, like you, also gained weight which seems to be triggering my bulimia. At the end of the day, you have to love yourself for who you are and keep trying every day. Worst case scenario, you mess up and try again the next day. It’s a process, not a fix 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ❤ I'm so sorry that you have struggled with disordered eating for a long time. 2020 really did erase all the sense of control we had. I hope that 2021 gives you back some control xx

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s