OPEN UP #4: How Dieting Affected My Relationships

Open Up Series

This week’s OPEN UP topic request is how disordered eating and dieting negatively affects relationships (husbands/wives/best friends), and how intuitive eating looks in those relationships.

Ah, this is an amazing topic request! Actually, Sim & I are currently prepping for our Girl Talk call for tomorrow night (sign-up here), and as I was thinking about what my “healthy & happy” weight looks like, I also reflected on my own story and what eating USED to look like for me. 

You’ll find out what a “happy & healthy” weight looks like on our call tomorrow (hint: it’s about a lot more than just looks), but today I’ll share my own experience with dieting/disordered eating and how much of an impact it had on my relationships.

I can specifically remember a time when Marco and I were just friends and I’d go over to his house to swim, and I’d bring cottage cheese and fruit with me. To be honest, I probably didn’t even need a snack, I just brought it with me because it was so routine. I had to be prepared at all times. 

I can remember another relationship in college, where my poor boyfriend always got the worst of my bad moods when I was feeling deprived and upset that I was “out” of calories and couldn’t find something to eat (ever experienced this?).

The only relief I could get when I was super hungry, but felt like I’d be breaking the rules if I ate anything, was to throw in the towel, binge, and then complain about it for hours afterward, talk about how I’d be better tomorrow, and usually tell someone they needed to “keep me on track.”

With my parents, I remember getting mad when I’d open the freezer and see that they bought ice cream. I used to say things like “You know I can’t have this in the house! Why would you buy this?! If you’re going to buy it, at LEAST put it in the outside freezer where I can’t see it!”

I specifically remember when I started eating intuitively, how weird it felt for some people, and how wonderful it felt for many others.

I remember being at the pool with on of my best girl friends as she asked “want to go get fro-yo???” in this mysterious voice like we were trying to get away with murder. I remember her annoyed response when I said “I don’t feel like fro-yo, but I’d be happy to go with you if you want to get some!”

It was like she was thinking how dare you.

But, girls, if you want to eat intuitively, the truth is, sometimes, especially in the beginning, you’ll feel like you’re disappointing people when you say “no” to something.

Let me remind us that *the way we do one thing, is the way we do everything.* So, if you feel badly saying “no” to food, it’s probably not JUST the food you have a hard time saying no to. This is likely an area that would be good to work in multiple areas. 

I found that my guy friends were MUCH happier to see me eating what sounded good, not talking about diets, and not calling myself fat (I’ll be talking about what confidence looks like to me on the Girl Talk call as well – it’s probably different than you think).

My parents were also relieved to see me with a healthy relationship to food. I remember when I first started this blog, I remember my mom checking-in: “Taking photos of your food and sharing them with everyone isn’t going to make you feel limited again? Is it? If so, it’s not worth it.” She was right.

If sharing my food sent me back into the dieting days, it would not have been worth it, because the freedom I have today has allowed me to enjoy SO much more of my life that I couldn’t even see before.

Today, I feel free to eat whatever/wherever I’d like. I don’t have to look at a menu first, I don’t have to check the “salads” first, I don’t have to order dry chicken, or skip the dressing. Instead, I know how I like to feel and I can always get what will taste good.

I used to check the menu’s before I’d go somewhere to search out the lowest calories item a place had. Now I check Yelp photos in search of what looks the best. And hey, many times, what I choose is full of veggies, because I’ve learned (all diet talk aside) real food is absolutely incredible.

Healing my relationship to food, and becoming someone who eats intuitively and refuses to diet has opened so many doors in my life. It’s allowed me to…

  • start this blog and share my story
  • start my own online coaching practice
  • find my spirituality
  • have a healthy, whole relationship (marriage) not fully focused on myself 
  • focus more on others
  • enjoy food, have fun with cooking, and explore what I like in every area of my life
  • truly get in touch with who I am, and accept all the bits and pieces of myself (to be clear, this is ongoing – I am continually learning to accept all the pieces of myself)

Today life is less about food and more about living. In my relationships now, intuitive eating looks a lot like “normal eating.”

A few notes on intuitive eating and relationships:

  • You’ve got to get comfortable leaving behind saying “yes” to something just to make someone else happy. If you don’t want something, it’s OK to say “no, thank you.”
  • You can now have fun being the person who recommends what sounds good – I’d encourage it! Instead of saying “wherever/whatever you want” when someone asks what sounds good to eat, have fun with it! Recommend a place that sounds great.
  • The negative out-loud self talk to people who you are trying to have healthy relationships with must stop. If you need a safe place to voice any negative thoughts about your body hire a coach, join a group (Mastery is an option), see a counselor, etc… 

I have found that having a safe place to voice any negative feelings I have about myself outside of my personal relationships has been life changing. Now, my relationships are free from negative self talk, and when I do have a fear/concern that I need to voice, I have someone I can trust who will help me move forward.  

What else?

Share with me in the comments what you’ve noticed you had to change when you started eating intuitively. Or, if you haven’t ditched diets for good yet, share something you’re currently struggling with, and how diets take away from relationships.

If you’ll like to talk to a coach, find my coaching application here. You can also check out Mastery (last day to enroll is this Friday 3/25), or simply start by joining Simi and I tomorrow night for Girl Talk.

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