An open letter to loved ones supporting women who struggle with eating.
Dear Loved One,
You might already know that I’m someone who has used food in excess to: cope with my difficult emotions, to try to meet unmet needs, to quiet shame, to mask fear, among other reasons.
I’m not necessarily drinking large quantities of alcohol, nor using illicit substances. Instead, I turn to eating in part to numb/distract/escape/avoid/stuff/fill/ emotions that I find unbearable.
I am not doing this because I’m being indulgent, or permissive, or lazy or because I don’t give a care. Quite the opposite. I’m doing this because I’m suffering. This is how inner pain manifests for me.
I know you love me and care about me and want the best for me. Often times the things you do and say show that…and sometimes they don’t.
With that in mind, I want to help you help me. I know this is what we all ultimately want. So here are some ways you can truly support me:
1. Trust me
I’m learning to trust myself and my body and so I’m making purposeful choices on what I choose to eat, how much and when. No foods are excluded.
I’m eating regularly, in a balanced way and mindfully, which allows all foods to be ‘back on the table’; that’s what balance is about. Think of it as: “Mostly plants, and sometimes cake”.
2. I’m looking at ALL measurements of success…not only the scale.
The scale is just a measurement of my gravitational pull to the earth. I might use it, but only in part, or I might not use it at all.
From a health perspective…medically speaking, that is, I can have healthy ‘numbers’ such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc., even if the number on the scale doesn’t match weight charts.
So besides the scale, I’m also going to look at:
- My energy level
- My positivity
- My pace
- How my clothes fit
- My complexion
- My confidence
- My social interactions
- My awareness and honoring of hunger/satiety cues
With that, please don’t ask about my weight – instead, it’s much more meaningful to ask how I feel.
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3. Sometimes when I eat, it’ll be the whole cake. Yeah, the whole cake.
Here’s why: again, I am someone who has used food in excess to bear the unbearable. So…if it’s the whole cake, know that shaming me will only perpetuate the problem.
Shame is already one of the ‘unbearables’ I need to cope with, so please don’t give me more.
Know that when it’s the whole cake, it’s not about me being permissive. I am not being indulgent. I am not, not caring. I AM SUFFERING.
If it’s the whole cake, something’s up. I don’t want to eat the whole cake. So when that happens, please support me by offering a hug, telling me you love me and letting me know you’re here when I need you.
Because I WILL NEED YOU. (Oh! And you might want to wait ‘til I’m done with the cake. ☺)
Thank you for supporting me.