I am blessed with inspiration and admiration by my clients on a daily basis. I work with so many beautiful, strong women who are fighting societal norms and standing up for themselves by becoming comfortable with and in their bodies. I love when I see that locked-in, focused look that occurs during the lightbulb moment of recovery. That’s when I know I am getting through to them and that the work we have been doing is paying off.
I work with all my clients on not only becoming more mindful with their eating, but also in every moment of their day. Most of my clients are struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating, or just a tremendously poor relationship with food and their body. Recovering from any of these situations can feel extremely daunting and oftentimes impossible. The road is not quick and is absolutely not easy. Anxiety about how long this process is going to take and how much work it actually requires is debilitating and deflating. More mindful living, as in taking each day moment by moment, is oftentimes the focus of my sessions with these individuals. I also help clients change their thoughts and behaviors about food and their bodies. I teach that there are no wrong feelings or thoughts; however, there are wrong actions. How we react to the feelings and thoughts determines how much work can be done towards recovery. I tell you all of this to share a short story about one of my current clients.
She is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She is young, beautiful, and has fought and survived TWO cancer battles. Throughout her cancer bouts she gained weight due to medications and disordered eating. She came to me, with tears in her eyes, wanting to fix her relationship with food. Our focus is not weight loss. The focus during our sessions has been implementing more self-care by listening to her body and starting to treat it with kindness. We have talked extensively about all that her body has done for her, to keep her alive. We also implemented mindfulness and adapting more of an intuitive way of eating. The lightbulb moment for her came when we deleted all negative social media accounts from her platforms, added pro-recovery resources, and talked for hours about how wrong society is for telling women how they should look.
After 3 or 4 sessions, she came back to my office and exclaimed “Allison, I took back my kitchen today!” I immediately beamed at her and asked her to tell me more. After her weight gain, she tried every diet you can think of – keto, paleo, shakeology, whole 30, even the Accountability diet by Teddi Mellencamp (PLEASE NEVER DO THIS!!!). She had many leftover “products” from these diets, including keto bombs, sugar and fat-free foods, shakeology bars – you name it, she had it all. She finally went through her cabinets and got rid of ALL of it! She explained to me that just seeing these products in her kitchen triggered her diet mentality. The next step? Grocery shopping; in a new way. She had been grocery shopping off a diet list for so long that she forgot what it was like to purchase (and eat) foods that she actually wanted! So, she took her husband along and had an entirely new experience at the grocery store. She went up and down every aisle, observed, and listened to what her body told her she wanted. She shared with me that she was afraid to go down the snack aisle, thinking she was going to want every box of cookies she saw. Guess what? When she walked down the aisle, looked at the boxes, and listened to what her body was wanting, she didn’t choose any cookies. She wanted fruity pebbles instead.
Now, she was afraid to have the fruity pebbles in her house, for fear of eating the entire box. This didn’t happen. She ate what she wanted, listened to her body, and stopped when she felt like she’d had enough. This was only possible because of the hard work she had done implementing two specific principles of intuitive eating: 1) making piece with food and 2) honoring her hunger. Of course, things are not perfect. We are still making our way through all the principles and working on her relationship with her body. However, overall my client is happier and has more food freedom that she has had in years! She even started a body and food positive Instagram account and is an amazing example for anyone working through their own struggles with food.
I am truly awed by her (and all of my clients’) strength, resiliency, and enthusiasm for recovery. This is possible for you if you have a similar story. Perhaps, the first step is to take back your kitchen.