When we’re working towards healing our relationship with food, meaning we’re letting go of restriction, our body might change. And all the painful thoughts and feelings we tried to avoid by controlling our food & weight are going to surface.
The fear monkeys, the shame monsters, the “not-good-enough” ghouls.
The limiting beliefs, uncomfortable feelings, and trauma we’ve tried to “diet away” will come up when we’re no longer using food and weight as a coping mechanism, an avoidance strategy.
It’s common to think that all these thoughts and feelings mean we’re not doing well in recovery, that we’re faltering or failing, which is not the case.
Recovery does not mean the absence of negative thoughts or difficult feelings, rather having them through the process is normal, understandable, to be expected, when you’ve grown up in Diet Culture and a fatphobic environment.
The marker of growth, what influences your well-being in the long-run, is how you respond and relate to the thoughts and feelings -- how do you treat yourself, how do you engage in self-care when the storm is arising inside?
Are you responding to them with restriction, punishing exercise, and other disordered behaviors?
Or are you responding to your fear, shame, and anxiety with compassion, kindness, and love...taking care of yourself in the most gentle of ways?
The goal of recovery is not to be free from negative thoughts or feelings; the goal is to change how we respond and to treat ourselves differently...with care, not punishment.
And discover new ways of being with the internal intensity of negative thoughts and feelings without going back to our disordered ways of food and weight control.