It’s kind of crazy. Seven years ago, I would spend my days dreaming up new sugary concoctions - hello chocolate covered rice krispie treats and cookie-oreo-brownie layered bars. Five years ago, I would spend my days obsessing over the half a brownie I ate and if it “fit” into my day of “clean” eating. Three years ago, I would spend my days healing my relationship with food and my body. Today, I coach women all around the world so that they can unlock their food freedom too.
One day in that time period of obsession, restriction, and fear will always stand out to me. I was sitting at my cramped wood desk that also served as my makeshift kitchen counter, all of which lived right next to my bed – living in a college dorm room takes a lot more architectural creativity than I ever could have imagined. I was ready for a break from my homework when my friend called into our room, “Come eat cake!”.
I was so excited to celebrate her birthday, and the two Bundt cakes that her mom had sent her smelled delicious. We chatted about her day of celebrations, and she told all of us girls to dig in! I knew I only wanted a sliver…firstly, I don’t even love cake – I’m more of a cookie and ice cream kind of girl. Secondly, desserts scared me. Not the kind of scared you feel when there’s a huge spider in your room and you’re home alone, or even the kind of scared you feel when the suspenseful music is building in a movie and you know that someone is about to jump out from around the corner. No, this kind of scared was something that I didn’t really understand.
I logically knew that eating a piece of birthday cake wouldn’t make me gain 5 pounds. I logically knew that eating a few sweets wouldn’t erase my abs. I logically knew that I could still be perfectly healthy without a thigh gap. I logically knew that eating white rice over brown rice wouldn’t dramatically change my life.
But fear is a deeply emotional state of being, and I was scared of desserts. Amongst other things.
So, I picked up a fork to take a few bites of Gi’s birthday Bundt cake. I hadn’t had sugar in a couple of weeks – trying to “detox”, you know? – and the soft, chocolatey sponge set off fireworks in my mouth. Oh my goodness, this was the best damn cake I’d ever tasted. I commended her mom for doing a stellar cake-picking job and continued to fork bite after bite into my mouth.
Was there crack in this cake? My brain was on a dopamine overload as the sugary pleasure continued to wash over my body. A quarter of a Bundt cake later, and never a proper plate in sight, I finally put the fork down.
I walked back into my room with too-full of a stomach and sat with the guilt that followed. I couldn’t believe that I had let myself eat that much cake. I was upset by the quantity of calories that I’d added to my body. I was worried about what I would look like in the morning. I knew that I had to do better starting tomorrow.
And while the scared part of my brain wanted to restrict and eat “cleaner” starting tomorrow, there was another part of me that was awoken by this experience.
I knew that I couldn’t keep living in this fear – fear of calories, fear of sugar, fear of white carbs, fear of liquid calories, fear of missing the gym, fear of falling off track – and was going to have to make some major shifts if I wanted my freedom and my life back.
Now, it wasn’t like I snapped my fingers and found food freedom the next day. I didn’t suddenly drop diet culture. I didn’t completely release the power of the scale. I didn’t immediately stop criticizing myself in the mirror. I didn’t totally stop comparing the size of my portions to those of my new sorority sisters. But it was a huge turning point in my journey towards eating with love and intuition.
Throughout my phase of disordered eating, I would wonder why it had to be me. Why couldn’t I just eat froyo without a second thought like my other friends? Why couldn’t I just choose the white potato over the sweet potato without feeling guilty? Why couldn’t I just eat a sandwich without feeling like I was missing out on the nutrients of a salad?
But now, so many years after my fears of food started, I know the exact reason why it was me. And I am so beyond grateful that it was me.
I was able to completely and deeply heal my relationship with food, health, and my body, and now I change lives daily by sharing the exact tools I used to do it. I am grateful every day for my experiences, healing, and growth, as well as my community, clients, and students who have also chosen to say YES to their freedom.
If you’re ready to say YES to your freedom, then you’re in for a treat! I’m hosting a totally free (but oh-so-valuable) workshop on Food Freedom & Escaping Diet Culture FOR GOOD! Click to register here, and be sure to share this event with your friends. For more information and food freedom tips, connect with me @sloaneelizabeth on IG!