Though I have come a long way in healing my relationship with food, I have come to realize recently that is will be something a battle for the rest of my life. Our culture is so pervasive in the ways it perpetuates the restriction mentality and perfectionism, and the disordered eating mindset can creep up on you in such sneaky ways. It may seem silly that a challenge to eat only Italian food can bring back eating disorder thoughts or that chicken nuggets can have such a profound impact on my mental health, but I am glad that I was reminded of that in such a light-hearted way because it was so much easier to recognize and bounce back.
So why would I continue to fight this battle knowing that there is no end? Because while I still struggle with mental health, apathy, and just bad days, I am so much happier not operating under diet culture. I am so much happier not constantly being at war with my body and myself. I am at peace because I reject the all-or-nothing mentality around food. Food is not inherently good or bad. I am not good or bad for eating certain foods. Nourishment is more than just percentages and grams on a food label. It’s about how food makes you feel physically, mentally, and, yes, emotionally. Food can bring us together. It has cultural significance. Our relationships with food are so much more complex than diet companies and “Fitspo” models would lead you to believe.
I know I am not the only person who deals with this. I was able to get where I am in my relationship with food, because of other folks who shared their stories. That is why I want to share my story with you: the highs, the lows, and everything in-between. My hope for those of you reading this is for you to reflect on your relationship with food with a little more grace. Look at what it means to you culturally and socially, and allow yourself space to explore that with peace. Have some chicken nuggets if you want them.