I feel a bit silly saying this, but I just know you’ll understand.
I used to be kinda scared to go to Italy because I knew the food was really good.
And if the food was really good, then I wouldn’t be able to stop eating it.
And if I couldn’t stop eating it, then I’d gain weight.
And that TERRIFIED me.
I had a real love-hate relationship with food. I couldn’t physically live without eating, but I didn’t seem to have any control over it. It was so delicious and yet so disgusting, scary and awful, all at once.
A couple of years ago — when I realized this fear had been holding me back from visiting an entire country — I went to Venice. And last weekend, I went again to Rome:
Rome was stunning. I went with a great friend of mine (the perfect travel partner) and yes — the food was incredible.
But you know what? I’m actually not going to talk about the food. In fact, have you noticed that I never post pictures of food?
That’s because (a) food porn can trigger binges, and (b) binge eating isn’t even about food.
It’s about not truly listening to what your body needs.
When you learn to get in touch with your body, not only do you stop binge eating, but other cool things happen too. You begin to trust yourself. You create healthy boundaries for yourself, which you — and other people — respect. You become more confident and at ease in your own skin.
This is definitely what happened to me. Just look at this photo my friend took of me outside the Colosseum in Rome (without me even noticing):
Look how relaxed, confident and at ease I am. I’m in a foreign city, talking to strangers on the table next to us, totally comfortable in my own skin.
I didn’t pose for this photo.
But when I was binge eating, I couldn’t be confident, because I wasn’t comfortable in myself. I continually ignored what my body was trying to tell me because I wanted it to look and perform a certain way.
After a LOT of reflection, I realized that’s because I was scared — on a deep level — that I wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t lean, strong, intelligent, fearless or badass enough.
So no matter what I achieved, I wasn’t happy and I was never proud. Instead, I was always striving for more.
It was a never ending scale of inadequacy.
Now — to be clear — I think it’s great to want to achieve things and make the most of your life. But the shit hits the fan when this motivation — this drive — comes solely from a place of fear.
So these days, I don’t smash my body and mind into the ground to prove my self-worth. I don’t obsess over food. I try to listen to when my body needs rest. I try to listen to sensations of hunger and satiety. I try to be kind to myself.
And you know what? This means I actually perform better, because I know when to stop working, and how to de-stress without using food. It means I can actually go on holiday, with zero anxiety about what to eat, all the while knowing that I don’t need to “be strict” when I get home.
The thing is: eating ice cream and spaghetti is part of life. The diet doesn’t start when you get home from holiday. It doesn’t start on Monday, or tomorrow. What you eat — and how you treat your body — is a continuum.
Continually dieting and beating yourself up because you think you need to look or be certain way means you’re continually restricting your experience of life.
This mindset — which I was stuck in for years — is a life thief. It can stop you from being able to just sit and enjoy quality time with your family, it can stop you going to nice restaurants with your friends, and it can stop you visiting entire, beautiful countries, like Italy.
But when you can listen to your body; when you can put your self-worth into more than how you look, and how you perform; when you make room in your belly for laughter, there is less room for vast quantities of food, consumed in secret.
The fact is that freedom — like Italy — is there, waiting for you.
But you have to be willing to open your heart, to let it in.