Hello. My name is Wendy. I am a compulsive eater. An emotional eater. An OVER eater. YES, I have an eating disorder. It’s certainly not as commonly accepted as anorexia and bulimia, but let me tell you that it is equally as vicious. A have worked very hard on myself and my thoughts, adopted a plant-based diet, and saved my sanity and probably my life. Here is my story.
I cannot remember a time in my life when food was not a really big, bad deal. Many of my early memories revolve around my relationship with food and my poor body image. I was always sneaking downstairs in my house to eat more than my mother would allow me to. I had an almost insatiable appetite for sugar. To this day, I don’t know why or how my mother did not confront me about my sneak eating, but I’m glad that she didn’t because I would have been mortified.
My mom knew I had some sort of disorder and limited the amount of sugar in the house, but I could get pretty creative about getting it. In junior high I borrowed money from my best friend every day and bought ice cream at lunchtime. I never paid her back, she never asked for the money, she never called me out on this behavior. She was a nice friend. I was a little bit overweight, but not much. I thought I was really fat. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
My first “diet” was Weight Watchers. I was 15 at the time. I remember standing in line to pay and the woman next to me said, “How much weight have you lost?”
“None,” I replied, “this is my first time here.” I mention this because it’s important to note that I didn’t have much extra weight, but I knew on a very deep level that I had a big problem with food. I thought Weight Watchers and losing weight was the solution to my problem. I had no idea what hell was in store for me.
Dieting didn’t eliminate my food obsession, it fueled it. I would successfully diet, lose all of my excess weight, feel starving and out of control, binge/sneak eat, gain all of the weight back and start all over again so many times that I lost count a long time ago. All through high school, college, grad school, getting married, and having three children, the cycle would repeat itself time and time again. The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Master Cleanse, The South Beach Diet, The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, The Flat-Abs Diet, and Weight Watchers . . . over and over and over . . . . I hated my body and I hated myself even more for failing to maintain a healthy weight.
I wanted to feel good and look good and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to do that. I wanted to live in what Susan Pierce Thomson calls “my right sized body.” I do have perfectionist tendencies and this failure in my life was not something that I was just going to ignore. Unlike some other eating disorder sufferers, I actually have a ton of self-confidence and a feeling of enormous power and potential in my life. Not living in my right sized body drove me nuts. I wanted it all.
At 5’5″ tall, I peaked out in April of 2009 at 182.5 pounds. When an old friend asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding I knew I would have the motivation to begin yet another round of weight loss so that I would not be “the fat bridesmaid.”
I showed up yet again at Weight Watchers. Only this time, a miracle occurred. A woman at the meeting mentioned a website called PEER trainer, which in turn led me to read a book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman called Eat to Live. If you are not familiar with Dr. Fuhrman’s methodology, he recommends a high volume, low calorie, plant based diet. I explored and read everything I could about plant-based food. Blogs, books, movies, plant-strong eating challenges-you name it, I was fascinated. With a combination of Weight Watchers and my new plant based diet, I began losing weight in an enjoyable way–feeling satisfied, full and well nourished instead of hungry, angry and malnourished.
It took a long time for me to transition away completely from eating anything with a mother or a face (including cheese, eggs and milk), and all processed food of any kind (no sugar, no flour). I know this way of eating seems extreme and restrictive to some people, but this style of eating ultimately led to my brain healing from my viscous sugar addiction.
It’s been a bit of a long and windy road for me. Over the course of many years following everyone’s version of a plant based diet, I actually gained all 50 pounds back. I’m sure if you are reading this you can imagine how mortifying this was, and compound it with the fact that I was chronicling my weight loss journey on this public blog called Healthy Girl’s Kitchen. I was really at a loss of what to do, grasping at straws, when Chef AJ stepped in and made some very critical suggestions to me about my struggle.
As it turns out, simply following a whole food, plant-based diet is not enough for a large number of people. Many of us need to take it a step further and eliminate all sugar, flour and alcohol from our diets in order to heal our brain from sugar addiction. As much as we would all like there to be a one diet fits all system, my experience has been quite the opposite.
I lost 30 pounds on Chef AJ and John Pierre’s Ultimate Weight Loss (UWL) before I plateaued for over one year. I was feeling pretty good about myself, but I wanted to see this through until I really felt like I was in my right sized body. It was then that I decided to switch up my program and join the Bright Line Eating (BLE) program. I was willing to weigh my food again (after years of resistance to the idea) and stick with three meals per day again if it would give me the chance at being Happy, Thin and Free.
I’m on a magic carpet ride. I am still losing “the weight” and discovering foods and habits that either work for me or don’t work for me. I’m a work in progress and I love the direction that I am headed in.
By adopting a whole foods, plant based diet, and bounding my portions, I hope to have found what is best for me. I need to feel full (not stuffed!) after I eat so that I don’t binge later. I need to consume a high volume of vegetables to give me the energy that I need to make it through my busy life. I NEED to feel good and confident about the food that I am eating and how it effects my weight and energy levels.
I love to eat great food and I love to cook for family and friends. Through a lot of trial and error, and with the help of many experts in the field, I discovered how I can maintain a healthy weight without ever feeling deprived. I am an avid tester and tweaker of highly nutritious recipes. You’ll find those high volume/calorie dilute/DELICIOUS! recipes here on Healthy Girl’s Kitchen.
Food and sugar are no longer the scary enemy that they once were. They do not control my every waking thought and I no longer worry about how my food choices are going to affect my weight.
It also doesn’t mean that I never overeat or compulsively eat. I do. Very occasionally. And I no longer beat myself up about it. I just move on and go back to eating on my healthy plan immediately. I never ever use my slip-ups as an excuse to overeat again.
Putting myself out there publicly as a “healthy food blogger” has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It has forced me to continue to learn and grow and not revert to old unhealthy habits.
But more important than any of that is my burning desire to help other over eaters find peace with food. I know it is possible with a whole foods, plant-based diet, the right tools and the right mindset. I don’t have to remind anyone of what an epidemic obesity is in America. The health of our nation, physically, financially and emotionally, are in severe jeopardy. I enjoy being a leader in the fight to overcome this disease. Just like there is a tight knit community of bloggers recovering from anorexia and bulimia, in Bright Line Eating we are create a community of folks recovering from compulsive overeating, emotional eating and/or binge eating.
Joining Bright Line Eating has been a gift. I still eat vegetables for breakfast (a la UWL) on my BLE plan. I am healing my brain with every sugar and flour free day. I feel comfortable in my own skin. For the most part, I like what I see in the mirror–not because it’s any kind of perfect, but because something about the nutritional quality of the food that I am eating and the tools that I am using just puts me at ease with myself. I am long down the road to recovery.