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TRU: The Real U

One Woman With Inner Beauty Can Change the World

Food, Self Worth, and the Real Me

Food, Self Worth, and the Real Me

Because food is always on my mind in order for me to keep my diabetes under control, I didn’t realize the skewed perspective of self-worth and self-image that food was causing me to have.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 11 years old, so I had to start counting carbohydrates and paying attention to how different foods affected my blood sugar. Since then, I have been encouraged by my doctor to exercise and eat well, but he has never discouraged me from eating what I want.

Because food is always on my mind in order for me to keep my blood sugar under control, food has brought with it some emotional side-effects. It wasn’t until recently that I finally acknowledged my skewed perspective of self-worth and self-image that food was causing me to have.

My life is very structured, and that structure includes organized food and exercise. However, unplanned situations arise from time to time that throw off my typical eating and exercise schedule. Last year, my roommate and best friend got married. As the wedding came and went, finals started approaching, and family and Christmas were on my mind. I didn’t realize how much I was trying to deal with as one thing added upon another. One day I came home with a lot on my mind, and I didn’t understand why I felt like I could snap at any moment. My mom looked at me and asked what was wrong, and I just lost it. I started bawling and she held me in her arms and let me cry as long as I wanted. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of a long, difficult road of uncomfortable emotions.

Once I had finished a good long cry, I decided I wanted some food for comfort. This was definitely not the first time I turned to food to appease my emotions, but this started a phase of emotional eating that lasted much longer than it ever has in my life. I looked for anything I could get my hands on, and once I started eating, I couldn’t stop. It was especially bad at night. Binging every night became habit, and whenever I had  low blood sugar my brain told my body that it desperately needed sugar, so I had a good excuse to eat and eat until I was sick. I didn’t tell any of my roommates or family members what I was dealing with, and I would sometimes sneak food into my room without anybody seeing. I was embarrassed, and I was jealous of my roommates and family members who seemed to eat whatever they wanted without gaining any weight, and stopped eating when they were full. I was absolutely terrified of the Christmas holiday, because I knew that being home surrounded by family and Christmas treats, I would not be able to control myself.

I thought a lot about boys and dating whenever I found myself binging on junk food. I often thought, How could any guy like me if he knew I have such a problem with food? I’m just on my way to getting fat. He’ll notice. I wish I could just be in control. But I also don’t want to have to tell guys I date that I don’t eat certain things. I don’t want guys thinking I’m a health freak.

I started to keep a journal of thoughts I had whenever I felt like binging. I hated myself. I was consciously going against everything I knew about being healthy, but I couldn’t escape my actions. My blood sugar was out of control, and I knew I was gaining weight.

One day I wrote, I know that I’m not letting Christ in. But I’m scared to lose this addiction that I always turn to. It has always been a part of me, and I feel like it’s a weakness I’ll never get rid of. This is impossible to fix on my own—I need Christ to save me. I am completely dependent on Him. I tried to think of ways I could turn this weakness into a strength, but at the time it seemed impossible.

One night as I was eating pretzels and Nutella without any intention of stopping, I realized something. I wrote, God would be sitting right next to me while I am binging, as if nothing I am doing is wrong. He wouldn’t just sit here watching me with a critical eye. He would be sitting here talking with me at my worst and lowest point and my actions wouldn’t even phase Him. He would pass no judgment. He loves me no matter what.

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But I was still afraid to change. I didn’t know what to do next. I was afraid of starting on a clean slate, because I knew I would just mess up again. I had gone through this cycle before. I wanted to take control of my life again, but I also didn’t want to become obsessive about my health. I wanted to stop thinking about food. How could I ignore the rest of the world—all the diets, health claims, fit people—and figure out what was important and healthy for me?

With practice of eating healthy, I discovered that  if I had the choice, I would make everything with whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, veggies…purely because I absolutely love how those foods taste and how I feel after eating them! I feel truly happy and confident! But I struggled to know how to fill my menu with nutritional foods while being constantly surrounded by refined foods. I found it ironic that the thing I was so passionate about being in control of was one of the hardest things for me to control.

I started talking to people close to me about what I was going through. It was uncomfortable expressing my deepest concerns to people, but I had to start letting people in to this door of my life. Once I started letting people in, my issues didn’t seem so bad. Some people I talked to were shocked at first when I told them what I was going through, but they listened. Nobody had ever seen this side of me before. I had to teach people to understand this hidden struggle, because it was such a big part of my life.

One night I woke up at 3 am with very low blood sugar. After treating it with my bedside chocolate, I decided to go to the kitchen to eat some more. As I ate, rather than thinking how guilty I felt for eating more than was necessary, I started thinking about other people who might be going through something similar. I thought, Who could I relate to right now?  If I hadn’t gone out to the kitchen to eat, I would not have opened my notebook to read notes that I took from a fireside given by Brad Wilcox, a college professor and motivational speaker. From my notes, I realized, God and I are in this together. This isn’t about how much I’m eating. It’s about what I need to learn from this experience. While I was eating (and I knew what I was eating was unnecessary) I wasn’t telling myself I needed to stop. I accepted that I was eating and I kept eating. It wasn’t that it was ok or healthy for me to eat this much, but I realized that it wasn’t about my behavior. It was about my relationship with God. I realized I had power to change, and I could do anything, if I did it with Christ. I had to put my faith and trust in Him. And I didn’t feel so guilty anymore.

As the year came to a close and the New Year came around, I made some personal goals. I didn’t quite know how I was going to change, but I knew I needed to start. I accepted the fact that I struggled, and I learned to appreciate the trial as a learning experience and something that would bring me closer to God and to others. I came to understand a lot more about myself and my relationships. Before I came to these understandings, I literally could not see any way out of what I was going through…but somehow I knew I would eventually get to the other side.

Today, I can look back and pinpoint what I learned from the experience. I still struggle, and I still have weak moments, but I don’t have so much guilt anymore and I don’t base my self-confidence off of a number on the scale. I have learned how to better control what is on the inside, rather than letting outside influences determine my self-control and self-image.

As I have reflected on how I have turned my weaknesses into strengths, I have recognized new strengths as I have learned to open myself up to others and to trust in God: stronger relationships, a better view of myself, sympathy for others, a desire to be healthy, passion for healthy foods and exercise, and confidence in who I am and who I want to be.

I know that food will be a struggle for me for the rest of my life. God is not going to simply take away the temptation. But I have already become stronger and learned to expect that I will struggle, but I can accept and deal with all my struggles. I may not always be perfect, but I am so much stronger, and I can honestly say I am grateful for the experience.

Becca A. is currently serving as a missionary for her church, where she’s teaching others about their worth.

6 Comments

  1. Cristy
    Apr 30, 2014

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have verbalized what I’ve been wishing I could say!

  2. Marleen
    May 1, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your ongoing journey. It resonated very powerfully with me. Our challenge is to work on the inside. As the scripture states, the Lord looketh on the heart.

  3. Indra O.
    May 1, 2014

    I am bipolar, and I have that experience also, have not written yet, and had thought to do it, to help, like you, other people in our same situation, thanks to YW for publishing it and to you for sharing it, I wonder if I can translate it to help others also , thank you again forever .

  4. Erica
    May 2, 2014

    Thank you for your courage in sharing your experience. It is so much like my own, it’s almost scary! I am also working on this part of my life and you are an inspiration to me. We can do this. 🙂

  5. The Gist of Fit
    Jun 19, 2014

    Love it Becca! I really like how you went into depth about God and your self-worth! Your post was extremely heart felt, and I know it’s helped a ton of people out. Keep sharing and helping people!! Take care!

  6. Eliza
    Jul 1, 2014

    Wow. I feel like I could have written this post – down to being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11! I never would have thought to lay out the struggle exactly like that in words, though, and it is a beautiful thing. Thanks for sharing!

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