I’m pretty picky about what I allow myself to see on social media. I don’t seek out articles or blogs that show pictures of food, talk about dieting, showcase exercise routines, or talk too much about the nitty gritty details of nutrition. Scrolling through media like this can be addicting, and I know that for me personally, this can plant the seeds for obsessing over food.
The reason my obsession with food became so problematic for me was that it drained my energy and attention away from the things that matter. (This is in addition to the obvious, which is that it led to habits that harmed my health.) The best gift that recovery gave me sounds pretty simple: it gave me my life back.
When I was stuck in my obsession with food, weight loss, and exercise, I had little room left to think about and invest in other things in life: relationships, hobbies, school, work, my faith. My eating disorder sucked all the life out of me and turned me into a really boring (and highly irritable) shell of a human. The final trigger that helped me commit fully to recovery was recognizing the fact that there had to be more to life than food.
I wanted more.
More than counting calories. More than waking up every day and thinking about how I could avoid food better than the day before. More than pursuing a smaller pant size.
Recovery is a long and challenging road, and it’s not an overnight, quick fix. Rather, it consists of thousands (millions, even) of small moments when we need to make the choice to live for something more. Clinging to the hope of a better life is what kept me going. The number one thing that helped me recover was believing that there was more to life than food.
There had to be more to life than food — and I found it in a relationship with Jesus.
There had to be more to who I was — my identity — than the size and shape of my body.
There had to be more to the experience of eating than counting calories — things like enjoyment, community, nourishment.
There had to be more to exercise than losing weight.
There had to be more of a reason to get out of bed in the morning than to try to make myself smaller.
Even today, in moments when I’m tempted to become preoccupied by thoughts of food, I remind myself that there’s more to life. I remind myself that what (or how much) I ate for dinner isn’t important. I unfollow people that tell me it is. I try to fill my mind with thoughts centered on the purpose of life — like loving other people, spreading joy in the world, and looking for the light.
I’m not perfect at it, but I try. And that’s what keeps me going.
What about you?