Food is the most commonly used drug of choice when coping with anxiety, and exercise is one of the most effective of antidepressants. When we think of addiction we almost always think of drugs. But drugs don't always come in pill, powder or liquid form.
I have always had a complicated relationship with food, and I can say with no shame that I have struggled with eating disorders for a long time, without even really knowing it.
I strive to be balanced and through educating myself on nutrition, now I know what to do to get back on track even when I do slip up and that saves me.
This is not about vanity, it has everything to do with mental health. It’s about awareness on a serious issue and I’ve personally been on both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, I would binge eat and make myself sick if I ate something bad and never exercised. On the other hand, I would excessively workout and watched everything that I ate.
I felt completely out of control when I would wake up in the mornings uncomfortable in my own skin.
This behaviour highlights what an extremist I am. What I was eating and drinking had direct impact on my mental health.
In fact, I feel better when I look better and what I put into my body directly affects both how I look and feel.
I met someone recently who said, “ I feel so bad about myself looking at your Instagram. You look so healthy and put together.” That really spoke to me about how social media can portray anyone to be the happiest, healthiest versions of themselves, when deep down that same person may be suffering.
The girl who is constantly pushing herself in the gym could have major body issues and could hate herself. The person who posts photos of food could feel guilty after one bite or could be obsessing over everything that they put into their mouth.
This all came up for me again when I went away recently with friends for an epic little adventure, but I really went off track and by the end of the four days I was out of routine and I felt completely depleted.
Upon returning home, I didn’t feel like my usual self, but I did recognize the feeling. Luckily, I have the tools to flush it out of my system. It is important to indulge from time to time and then get back on track.
Unfortunately for so many years I felt trapped with my depression and in a body and mindset that I didn’t know how to change.
I am back in my routine that keeps me on track, both physically and mentally fit. A routine that took me years to master, here’s what works for me:
My Routine for flushing it out and resetting
- Each morning, I take deep breaths as I wake up my body
- I stretch the body
- Workout - usually hit the gym 5 days per week
- I bike everywhere (unless it’s raining)
- I walk as much as I can - fresh air feels so good
- I make sure to take the stairs
- Everyday try and break a sweat to challenge my body
Food as Fuel
- Lukewarm lemon water first thing in the morning
- Broth always before the gym
- Chia / detox Water throughout the day
- I carry a water bottle on me at all times and a small snack, usually nuts or an apple
- MEAL PREP IS LIFE — always do a shop for your week, plan and prep with whole foods.
Emotional Support System is HUGE for me
- Always connect with friends and family
- I have a life coach who I love to talk too(I would highly recommend her)
- I find it therapeutic to talk to people that I care about
I know that I don't need to obsess over what happened and just let it go and flush it all out. I would not take anything back, I think it’s important to try everything and enjoy your life especially for me, being a massive foodie, but if planned properly, I could have applied a few of my lifestyle choices.
The reason why I am writing this is because I saw and felt the effects of consuming unhealthy food and binge drinking. Its all fun, in the moment, but the aftermath can feel devastating.
Some people don't realize the negative effects that unhealthy food can have on not only their body, but their mental wellbeing. I'm not a doctor or a therapist, but I know how it feels to suffer from depression and I've tried everything from pills to diets. The only thing that helps me is having a healthy daily routine of working out, cooking healthy nutrient dense whole foods, limiting my sugar and alcohol intake and treating myself and indulging from time to time. Anything in excess is not good.
I always wished I had someone who understood what I was going through that could have supported me. I always felt guilty if I mentioned it, I was told that I looked great, that it was in my head or that I had nothing to be upset about. I was made to feel as if I was insensitive and self involved. I always knew that I was lucky and that things could be worse, but I never shook that feeling until I studied the science behind food. I have an amazing support system of friends and family, but I never felt comfortable opening up about this particular subject and when I did the reaction was always the same.
I felt misunderstood and alone. Now I know that I was never alone and many people have been opening up to me about these same issues seeking healing.
Feelings of pressure to look and to stay quiet about what was really going on inside me, since I know that so many people are worse off.
Now openly having been both a binge eater/drinker who didn’t exercise and, to having obsessed over working out and watching everything that I put in my mouth ... for the most part now I can say that I am balanced but still must strive for that everyday.
Food is the most overused anxiety drug, and exercise is the most effective of antidepressants, meaning what you put into your body and how you treat your body will effect how you feel both mentally and physically.
I feel it is important to be authentic and open.