She was eating clean foods. She was the thinnest she’d been since having kids. It was thrilling to be wearing smaller clothes and having a flatter tummy! She really thought she looked GOOD!
What you don’t see is that she was practically starving herself. Not because she had an eating disorder. But in hopes that she could avoid reactions and extreme inflammation. She had to cut out dairy, gluten, soy and nightshades. Even still, her symptoms were only slightly better.
She ate every bite of food in fear. If her food was contaminated with even a tablespoon of butter, her hands would swell before the meal was over and would continue to hurt for days later. She couldn’t even pick up her toddler normally because of the near constant hand, wrist and neck pain.
She was running herself ragged going to acupuncture, craniosacral and chiropractic appointments. Everyone was baffled. She was doing everything right. But the pain continued and she still woke up with reflux every day. Not only was she always stressed about eating, she was also terrified that the unresolved digestive issues were going to cause cancer, a disease that stole her dad from her earlier that year.
Because there was no diagnosis for this storm raging in her body, she often suffered in silence because she didn’t feel like she had a legitimate illness. And when people did know what was going on, she wondered if they thought she was just doing this for attention. Mentally and emotionally she was not in a good place. She wasn’t happy.
She wakes up every day in dread of choosing what outfit she will wear because her body has changed. She’s gained 20 pounds after her last child was born. Her body is s t r e t c h e d out and soft. Her thighs and butt are larger and lumpier than ever. Sometimes when she passes a mirror, she wonders whose body is really in the reflection.
But what you don’t see is a woman who is working hard to love her body in whatever state it’s in! She’s living in a body that still delights her husband. It’s given life to 7 babies and grew and birthed 3 of those. It’s fed those babies for almost 9 years! The saggy skin and stretch marks were earned and are testimony of just how great this body really is whatever shape it is.
Another thing you don’t see, is that she can now eat almost anything she wants without any pain. Why? Who knows! But she gets to enjoy ice cream again on long summer nights, pizza on lazy Fridays and no longer has to ask for the allergy menu any time she eats out!
Diet culture plus her own experience of food hating her, left deep scars. It vilified that ice cream and made pizza evil. For the longest time she had guilt for harming her body for these indulgences. She felt like a kid stealing cookies from the jar. She sneakily ate each bite just hoping her body wouldn’t notice the toxins she was feeding it.
Then it dawned on her. Food isn’t evil! And eating isn’t always just about the food. It’s about the family time. The memories. The freedom to just love life!
She’s not going to alter her diet because the memories of being restricted are still too fresh. For once in her adult life she isn’t dealing with daily discomfort so she isn’t going to work out because she knows it will cause pain (even if it’s temporary)!
Things may change in the future but right now she is just rejoicing that her body has energy and ability to truly live! She can easily pick up her newest toddler, take her big kids to play with friends and cultivate a life that she can look back on and think, “I’ve really lived.”
She truly loves who she is right now and that’s about the most anyone can hope for in life!
What about you? Do you need to live and love more? Or are you under the bondage of diet culture? Have you had your own struggles with your health? I’d love to hear where you are right now!