If you have known me up to this point in life, you have heard or seen my "chunky days." I vividly remember going to my annual checkup around the age 10 and my doctor pulling out a chart with a bunch of lines on it and pointing to the far right side. She said, "You are here." The doctor then moves her finger to the left for what seemed like five feet and said, "this is where you should be." She looked at my father, who was raising me by himself part-time and said: "your daughter needs to lose weight."
And thus began my struggle and pressure of what my body should look like.
I did join sports as a kid, but I hated exercising. My parents fed me a somewhat healthy and balanced diet. I wasn't a kid to beg for sweets but get me alone with some snacks, game over. I would binge eat until there was nothing left to eat. In middle school, there was a pool party and the girls at the party voted me the second biggest girl, which meant they thought I wasn't the prettiest. We stood in a line and I realized what the line was about, as I and my friend stood at the far end, just like that damn chart.
My sister and I on her wedding day, 2010.Abigail Cawthorn
High school started, and I was really aware of how people judged, viewed, and even talked about other people's bodies.
I started to not eat. I did eat, but I truly didn't try. If food was offered I would eat. But I never went out of my way to eat during the school day.
Then I would get home and whatever I could find at dinner time. I was depriving myself of nutrients and happiness until I was alone. It also didn't help that the friends I was surrounding myself around were counting calories, reading and rereading food labels, and asking waitresses what was in the dish. There was so much control over what I was doing to my body. I did lose around 20 pounds in a year. Everyone was complimenting me and telling me I looked pretty. I thought my time had come.
I recently listened to an NPR podcast about Intuitive Eating. I learned that this way of eating was about balance, finding what you love to eat, and learning how much to eat. The main point is eating when your body is showing signs of hunger. I would ignore this in high school and just think: I'm not THAT hungry.
Next, to eat what your body has an urge to eat. I would ignore this too and eat some crackers when I really wanted some chocolate. Next, is to eat when you are physically full and satisfied. I thought this was being so bloated and swollen that you felt gross, so I never got full. Finally, balancing your eating, which is just putting all three steps together.
My body is now at the average weight I should be at for my height and age. I feel energized, happy, and I only look at the ingredients to tell if I don't like what is in the dish.
If you are thinking about getting off that Keto Diet or Paleo Diet, know that eating intuitively isn't to lose weight but it may be what happens. Treat yourself by being healthy and being less hard on yourself.