How to Stop Obsessing About Food and Body
by Lisette Hoschek
When was the last time you felt comfortable in your body? Or you walked by a mirror and didn’t immediately feel a growing sense of anxiety warming your belly? And speaking of bellies…
When was the last time you felt comfortable showing yours?
Here’s the last time I did:
Yup, that’s Lisette- about three years old- and letting it all hang out. That was before I learned the message from our culture that my body was not OK as she is. Before I learned to “suck it in.” And before I was brainwashed into believing one of the most important things I could spend my life doing was to shrink my body.
Yes, that was years before I became obsessed with food and with my body.
Trust me, I’ve been there
I remember all too well how it feels to open my eyes in the morning vowing to eat less today. And to have a daily tally running through my head the instant it hits the pillow at night. Consumed with thoughts of food and dieting every minute in between.
And I remember what it’s like to feel my stomach growl as I get up from the supper table. Tired, and exhausted. Silently taking bites of food from kids’ left overs while I cleared the table. Hoping nobody else noticed.
I vividly remember sitting at a restaurant with my friends literally unable to focus on their conversation while thoughts of calories and food choices screamed in my head. I could see them laughing, hear them talking, and I wanted to join in. But I couldn’t get the food noise out of my head.
And I remember all too well how it feels to walk into a room and immediately size up how large and small the other women are. Ranking myself in the hierarchy of who is thinnest and hating myself if it wasn’t me.
But who am I kidding? I hated myself even when it was me.
It was hell.
I remember thinking maybe I could never be “normal” with food. Maybe I was “too messed up.”
Don’t get me wrong- I tried to heal my relationship with my food and with my body.
I tried it all. I tried diets. I read books. I went to therapy. I went to support groups. I joined online groups. I went to treatment for an eating disorder. I tried “recovery.” Over. And Over. And over again.
And while I was able to abstain from certain harmful behaviors for periods of time, I was never able to silence the disordered thoughts screaming in my head.
Even during those respites between symptoms, I was plagued by my obsession with food and my body. I never felt free. I never felt comfortable. I never EVER felt at ease around food. Or in my own skin.
The details and specifics of my path do not matter. The number of pounds I lost or gained over the years and the symptoms and behaviors I vacillated between are not important.
What does matter is my life revolved around what I ate, what I didn’t eat, what I was going to eat, what I “shouldn’t” eat, and what I was going to do about what I ate or didn’t eat.
I was obsessed with calories and food and exercises and the numbers on a scale and my pants.
I began to wonder if I could ever recover.
At my best, I was living a very restricted life where I constantly and carefully watched my food and exercise. I focused more on what people thought of me than I did on my own heart.
At my worst, I was secretly engaging repeatedly in harmful behaviors feeling unable to stop while ignoring my relationships.
I hated myself, dreaded waking up in the morning, and felt hopeless and alone.
One of the worst times came surprisingly after my third son was born. Postpartum depression was the nudge that pushed me off the diving board back into the sea of disordered eating. I quickly found myself drowning. I had the life I dreamt of- an amazing husband, three healthy children, and the luxury of being a stay at home mom. Yet I wanted to run away. Worse, I wanted to give up on myself and on life.
And yet with the darkest time in my life came one of the greatest gifts.
Because it was the catalyst I needed to make REAL, lasting and healing changes.
On my knees, I was broken and finally painfully honest with myself. At that moment I was able to open myself up to ask for and receive help.
And to do it in a NEW way.
Today I can honestly say I no longer think about food and my body constantly. Instead- these thoughts take an appropriate amount of space up in my mind given my emotional and biological need to eat every day. This leaves me free to live a life connected to my passions and purpose. I’m ready to help other women reach the place of freedom. I want to share what I’ve learned and what has helped me build a life on a solid foundation instead of the shaking ground of disordered eating and body hatred.
I no longer believe there is something wrong with me.
THERE NEVER WAS
And there isn’t with you.
I believe deeply in my heart that it is possible to recover from disordered eating. It is possible to stop hating your reflection in the mirror. And it is possible to stop spending your time, energy, and money on trying to shrink your body (or keep it shrunk).
I want to help other women find true peace and true freedom. And I’m starting right now by sharing some things I learned on my own personal journey.
Here are 3 Steps You Can Take Now To Stop Obsessing Over Food and Body Today
1. Give Yourself Permission to Eat ALL Foods
Yup- you read that correctly. Recovery from obsessions, recovery from hating your body, and recovery from disordered eating STARTS with permission.
That means giving yourself FULL permission to eat any and all foods. It means stopping labeling some foods as “good” and some foods as “bad.” And it means untangling the moral judgment we blindly attach to the way we eat.
What do I mean by that? I mean this:
You are not a better person if you eat a salad.
You are not a worse person if you eat chocolate.
Stop and read that again.
You are not a better person because you choose salad. And you are not a bad person if you choose to eat chocolate. We are living breathing human beings who need food to stay alive. We were not put on this earth to resist enjoying food.
In fact, FOOD IS SUPPOSED TO BE ENJOYED.
And trust me, I understand that after years of living in a culture that has brainwashed us into believing food IS a moral issue… it is hard to let go of this idea. But if I could do it- you can too.
It starts by reminding yourself that you deserve to eat foods you enjoy. In the amounts that you enjoy.
And that whether you eat a bowl of spinach or a pint of ice cream- you are still a valuable human being worthy of love and acceptance. REGARDLESS of your weight or size. Regardless of your health status.
2. Let Go of Trying to Control Your Body Size
YUP- this is a biggie. This one is SO hard. Trust me- I spent years grappling with it. I even spent years trying to “recover” without gaining weight.
It was not until I came to terms with this deep truth that I was able to truly heal:
I can not safely control my body or weight in recovery.
I know this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s a truth that takes time to sink in. And it goes against literally everything we’ve been taught our entire lives. But just for a few moments, consider what your life would be like if you accepted it’s not your job to control your body. That it’s not even possible to safely control your weight.
How would your life be different if:
- you weren’t spending so much energy trying to change your body?
- dieting wasn’t a full time job?
- you let go of trying to change your body shape or size
- you accepted your body as she is right now in this moment
For me, it was a spiritual practice to work on accepting my body. Truth be told- it still is.
And it’s a practice that’s brought freedom, grace, connection, and healing to my life.
3. Start Curating Your Social Media
This truthfully is one of the most helpful things I did in recovery. Initially I tried just hiding triggering people and accounts.
But that wasn’t enough.
Then I tried following more body positive, health-at-every size accounts. What ultimately made the biggest imprint on how I view bodies was creating a new instagram account SOLELY for recovery. On that account, I follow ONLY body positive, health-at-every-size, fat activists, and plus size models. Finding folks in bodies my size or larger to look at every single day has greatly impacted the way I view diverse bodies. And I commit to spending 5-10 minutes a day looking at these images.
I challenge you to try this for two weeks and see if you notice a shift in the way you view bodies.
So there you have it my friend: 3 Steps You Can Take Now To Stop Obsessing Over Food and Body Today. I hope you found them helpful.
Remember- these steps are just a starting point towards shifting your life away from food and body obsession and onto living a life of freedom. If you’d like to go deeper in this work, I’d love to schedule a free consultation call to see if private coaching is a fit for you. Just email me and we can set up a time.
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey!
PS— Please keep an eye out for more emails from me. My intention is to share meaningful, inspiring, and helpful information to support you on your path. *If you don’t receive an email from me soon, please check your spam box and add my email to your addresses.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this piece of artwork that my 9 year old created a few years ago:
If this resonates with you and you’re interested in going deeper into this work with my assistance, please email me here and we can schedule a free consultation.