This is a guest post from Sadie of For Their Tender Hearts, a blog with the mission of spreading the word about the reality of eating disorders, educating our culture to make it a safer place for her five daughters…and all of our girls. It takes a village.
Living life recovering from an eating disorder has been a struggle.
Even as an adult and busy mom, food is always a thought on my mind.
There was once a time I thought that my struggle was over, and it was almost the death of me.
I had been married for a little over 3 years, just given birth to our second daughter and was working overseas as a missionary. Just one of these events in your life would be enough to cause stress, but add all three and it was almost more than I could handle.
It had me screaming inside.
The Monster Resurfaces
I remember anorexia coming back.
It was as if a light switch has simply been flipped to "on," and my battle with food began again.
I had fooled myself into thinking that it wasn’t there, when in fact it was hidden in a deep dark corner just waiting for its time to return. When it did, my daily battles began again.
I knew that something needed to change. I needed a way to process my thoughts, but I just didn’t know what to do.
What About "Recovery?"
Some disagree and will not accept that an eating disorder is a lifelong battle. They feel as if I should just be over it and move on.
I suppose you could say I tried that. I lived that life believing that I was in full recovery and had nothing to worry about.
These are the moments we can be most vulnerable. These are the times when our struggles can hit us the hardest.
"It’s ok to struggle," I always tell my five daughters now, but for a long time that was one of the hardest realities for me to grasp. I lived in darkness for so long.
I battled my own demons by myself and lived in shame because I didn’t want anyone to see that a struggle even existed. I wanted everyone to see that perfect outside, when on the inside everything was a mess. But it was when I was finally able to let that go and realize that we all struggle with something that I could really start my journey of recovery.
How to Stay on the Road
We use a few simple strategies in our family to help me on my road of recovery. Simple things that people who have never fought an eating disorder wouldn’t think of, like having daily meals together, only allowing napkins in the middle of the table, and making sure we encourage open and honest conversations about struggling. This creates a healthy food culture both for me and for my daughters.
One thing that comes and goes in our family is meal planning. We are trying to make it a regular thing, and when I am going through a rough patch it is always something that I rely on.
Not only is meal planning a chance to save money on your weekly grocery bills, it’s also a great way to keep your battles in check. When we meal plan consistently I know what our meals are going to be. It’s written right there so that I have a heads up on what foods I am going to face.
If during a certain time I am having an issue with a kind of food, I am able to think ahead and leave it off the list. I can accommodate our food plans to help my battle become easier and less of a stressor in my week or month.
My husband and I know that I am going to be getting the food that I need, and it’s not going to cause me to stress out over it. It’s a way of visually seeing my week or month ahead of time and being able to prepare for what is to come.
Stopping the Cycle
I want with all my heart to prevent any eating disorder from ever becoming an issue in my daughters’ lives.
I want to see them live in a generation that is unaffected by eating disorders.
To make that happen, it’s important that we keep communication open and honest in our family. They need to know that they can share freely, which I model by being honest about where I am.
My girls have seen me struggle and they have heard conversations about my struggles, but the key is that they know my struggles do not own me.
They do not define me.
Each one of my daughters will struggle too, but their struggles will not own them.
They do not define who they are.
Our struggles are just a part of this walk we call life.
I’m so grateful to Sadie for sharing her lifelong struggle with us here at Kitchen Stewardship. I honor the way she is teaching her daughters about embracing their lives, the good and the bad, whatever comes their way. It’s my prayer that her story touches your life today, and that we can all work to create a safe food culture, a safe body image culture, for all of our daughters, friends, mothers, and co-workers. For more nuggets of wisdom about life with an eating disorder, please visit Sadie at For Their Tender Hearts.