Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

Letter to a Parent:

I know you love your daughter, and this may be hard to hear, but I’m concerned about how she feels about herself.

You’ve raised someone who is very strong and level-headed. You may think she engages in irresponsible activities, but going out on her own and exploring new experiences is normal for a young woman.

She doesn’t mean to get herself into dangerous situations, and when it does happen, getting punished or yelled at will not work.

She needs to be heard.

Your daughter has the belief that she is not good enough. She is not good enough unless she is thin. She will not be desired unless her body is fit and perfect. So maybe she felt the need to skip dinner. 

Then she went out drinking on that empty stomach. Her tolerance is lowered, but she doesn’t mind because the lack of food makes her stomach flatter. And therefore, she feels pretty.

Does your beautiful baby only believe she is wanted because of her figure? Does she not have enough confidence in her intellect or wit? Did someone allow her to believe that most others find fat gross; that even a full stomach is unattractive?

These beliefs will kill your daughter. They continually put her in dangerous situations (like the one outlined above). But they are also draining her of the ability to enjoy her life.

Please do not let her life boil down to one goal: letting others think she is perfect and happy. What kind of empty existence will that be?

There is no use placing blame on how we got here. We don’t always know where these thoughts come from, but you have a job now, to reverse her way of thinking.

Bring life back into your daughter’s world, bring her true happiness which derives from loving every inch of herself.

Unconditional love, which your daughter is completely deserving of, means that she is loved always and regardless of what may come.

Do you think she hasn’t noticed that she’s gained weight? …In this society? 

EVERY time you see her, you need to say: “You are beautiful.” She may roll her eyes. She needs to hear it.

Teach her: I am beautiful now, I was beautiful then, and I will be beautiful later. Do not let anyone let her feel LESS THAN even if she has changed. And never allow your daughter to put HERSELF down. Do not even allow her to think she NEEDS to lose weight. No one needs too.

Some parents believe they need to teach “healthy eating” to their children. Be careful. Eating disorders are running rampant and hiding within many “health/fitness” fads.

Your daughter is not a computer. You cannot program her to eat the foods that you (or Dr. Oz) considers healthy. She is human, she is vulnerable, she is imperfect. If there is any weight talk, it needs to be done in front of a professional: a specialist in eating disorders or a nutritionist. 

It is not shameful to seek out help. Young girls today have so much pressure on them to be thin, fit and perfect. Do not be part of the problem. Do not be blind. End the stigma. Your baby is beautiful, and the ones who love her will see it regardless of size. Schools are not instilling this, social media is not instilling this, YOU need to instill it.

And for all those daughters: if you do not have a parent that will be receptive to this letter; or in case your parent was not around to say it:

I am so proud of you.

You are so strong for enduring the things you have gone through.

Society is very hard on women and YOU are so brave

Do not fear being yourself. Do not fear standing out.

There is only one you. And you are on this Earth because the world needed your spirit, mind and heart (not your body).

Do not change for anyone.

If you think you need to change your appearance, please work on your thoughts instead. Someone planted the notion in your head that you are not good enough the way you are. Remember, whatever perceived flaw this ignorant person pointed out, will be adored by somebody else who loves you.

You are deserving of everything you want in this world.

You are beautiful.

You are loved unconditionally.

You are loved when I seem angry with you. You are loved when you are sad. You are loved if your body changes. You are loved when you are being irrational, rude or unpleasant. You are loved when you feel undeserving, guilty or flawed. And yes, you are loved if you gain weight. Because it doest matter how you look.

You are always deserving of love, no matter what you may feel about yourself.

You are loved.

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Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

Weight Talk: Part 2

I want to address something that is controversial.

I cannot seem to change someone’s mind when they tell me they want to lose weight. I can ignore a stranger, but what about a friend? Unfortunately, I cant send everyone through Renfrew, as much as I’d like to. (By the way, the things I learned in recovery should be incorporated in schools. Self-esteem is way more important than whatever activity I did in 4th grade gym—just my opinion).

Weight loss and body conversations are extremely difficult for those in recovery.

But, if people are going to keep talking about it, I at least need to address it. And hopefully, I can help influence someone’s way of thinking away from”dieting.” 

But first: what drives you to want to lose weight? Will it make you happier? Finally get you a partner? Land you a better job? You will not get those things after achieving your so-called ‘dream body’–TRUST ME.

And I want readers to know that I don’t approve of anyone wanting to lose weight. It’s not necessary in order to be happy or grateful in life.

During my personal journey, I’ve suffered with restricting, purging and binging. These coping skills I developed around food have helped no matter what symptom I wanted to use.

I implore you to take the power back from food by using these…

WORDS FROM MY OWN DIARY  WHEN THINGS GOT TOUGH AROUND FOOD:

  1. I absolutely HATE body talk. I even despise phrases like “weight-loss” “being healthy” or “getting fit.” Those words have been abused by social media and twisted to imply “not good enough where you are.” And being reprimanded for what you eat should not happen no matter what weight you are.
  2. Don’t exercise out of self-hatred. I had to stop for almost a year because of this rule. My best friend said to me: “You will be just as beautiful if you never exercised another day for the rest of your life.”
  3. Repeat to self: I am still beautiful and loved if I never exercise another day for the rest of my life.
  4. Don’t body check for results, ever. No stepping on the scale, squeezing your body, trying on old jeans. And STOP looking at your body sideways every time you go to the bathroom. Ed’s the one telling you to do that. Tell him NO. Your body will change at its own pace if your nuroushing it the right way. Don’t let ED turn you against your body’s ability to take care of itself.
  5. You can say no to food without feeling deprived. I seem to always want cookies when I crawl into bed. I know I’m looking at it as comfort for getting through a long day. But I really have to learn to enjoy my bed without the cookies.
  6. And then say yes! I can eat those cookies at night sometimes. And I should have them in the daytime, too, even if I don’t crave them. Why? Because it reinforces that there’s no such thing as a “reward” “cheat” or “comfort” food. No food can “ruin your day.” I HATE hearing “I’m being bad today” just cause someone ate some chocolate. NO FOOD TURNS INTO INSTANT FAT ON YOUR BODY.
  7. I time my meals sometimes: 20-30 minutes. Its what we did in Renfrew. And I don’t find electronics or distractions to be the devil during meals. When I’m eating with a friend, I make sure to put down my food while I talk to her. Those little breaks help my fullness settle. I put on the tv when I’m alone and take turns between paying attention to my food, and giving a few minutes to the show. I think the key is to not do both at the same time. And I HATE that diets have abused this method as a way to try to trick our bodies to eat less. Honestly, ED is usually the sneaky voice trying to make us eat fast. He’s saying, “eat it before I can tell you how fattening it is!” or “there’s a bunch of other foods calling your name once you finish this!” Go slow and be aware while you eat so you can catch this voice chiming in.
  8. Wait for your hunger cues. It’s more satisfying (taste-wise). Also, I learned that if I stop trying to PLAN my next meal, my hunger cues will also tell me what I’m craving.
  9. Don’t live and die by rules. Treatment told us to eat every 4 hours. It’s a good guideline, but sometimes I don’t get hungry until 5 hours later. Sometimes I’m hungry after only 2. But when you don’t know if your hungry/full, this is a good reference to see if you should be eating.
  10. Contrary to ridiculous belief, your body DOES burn food in your sleep. Sometimes I stay up till 11 and I get hungry. Well duh, my dinner was at 5. EAT, TASH. Don’t feel guilty because of the hour. Your body clearly needs it for its next function. YES, your body needs energy to sleep just as it needs energy to run or jump or think.
  11. Always eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. This rule isn’t optional. I learned that every time I skipped a meal, it came back to bite me: whether it was after the weekend ended, later that night, or even at the next meal because I was famished.
  12. Snacks are cool. A pop tart here, cheese and crackers there. At one point I incorporated so many snacks that I lost my hunger cues. I learned not to habitually plan for snacks, the way I do with meals. At the very least, eat breakfast lunch and dinner, then take it moment by moment. When you get hungry, then incorporate your snack. 
  13. NEVER COMPARE. Not to someone else’s meal. Not to what you ate the day before. Not to someone else’s body. NEVER. It’s the fastest way to make yourself miserable. 
  14. If you have a favorite ritual–don’t stop it. I love my DD coffee in the morning. People sometimes talk about “all those calories,” and it used to really bother me. But honestly, Ive been having my pumpkin spice/butter pecan flavored cup of joe since the beginning of recovery and my body hasn’t blown up. And you never know, maybe the person telling me how bad my coffee is, has their own separate ritual: so, please just don’t listen to people. Its moderated. Its one cup, you can make your pleasures moderated, too, if that will make you feel better.
  15. Another example of a ritual I’ve grown to love is Sunday take out night. That doesn’t mean I only have take out on Sundays: remember, theres NO such thing as a “cheat” food/day. But, grabbing Chinese food, putting on a movie and laying with my boyfriend eases my Sunday scaries. And the food isn’t the root of the comfort, it’s the atmosphere, the care-free vibe, the company, and yes, the yummi-ness. So, again, don’t deprive yourself of things you’ve grown to love. That’s why diets don’t work. They want to cut things out that feel right for you. Good/bad right/wrong doesn’t exists.

I hope I didn’t convolute anyone’s way of thinking. I know that ignoring the elephant in the room isn’t going to make it going away, so I would rather finally address the very thing that has bothered me and will NOT seem to go away: weight talk.

    Please contact me if you want any advice, or have any questions. I want nothing more than to help.


    Email: natashalavolpe@gmail.com


    Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

    Weight Loss Talk

    Bodies are vessels, they are superficial. And by changing your shell, it cannot make you any happier. The idea is often: “if I lose weight, I will become desirable.” Since this isn’t true, no goal you reach will satisfy you. It is a bottomless thirst.

    …Which is why eating disorders involve both restricting (the only percieved way to earn love/acceptance) and binging (after realizing that the deprivation isn’t filling your emptiness).

    We have to learn to change the inside. Change your thoughts. Wake up every morning and say I am beautiful. I love my smile. I make people laugh. Love your toes or freckles if that’s the only thing you can find. 

    This will feel like a lie at first. But I HAD to keep finding reasons to love myself because of how bad I wanted recovery. I HAD to keep trying in order to rid myself of a life-threatening illness. 

    I did my makeup in a small mirror, as to not be sucked into EDs body obsession. I took my time and put together nice outfits. I played with my dog when I was sad. I painted instead of numbing myself with urges. I did what I had to do to feel GOOD about myself everyday. That’s my priority. And it’s not vanity, it’s self-love. (In reality, EVERY person should be doing this, not just those plauged by ED)

    Think of yourself as a four-year old and imagine saying harsh ED-driven comments to her. Do you find it disheartening? Good, because that four year old is still you. Don’t beat her self-esteem down anymore.

    You are and were always worth being told your beautiful and if you have to be the one to tell yourself, then that’s exactly what you need to do.

    I teach my children at the daycare “If someone tells you that you look beautiful, you do not say thank you, you say: I know.” Do not even question your own beauty. Because there may be a day when someone tries to tell you that you are not (sometimes that bully even lives in your own head) and you need the courage and confidence to tell them that they are wrong.

    And please do not think I go completely ED-free all the time. He can still make me feel uncomfortable and flawed. Sometimes I cry when clothes don’t fit me anymore. I still get insecure when wearing tight shirts. But I recognize that ED is the one bashing my body.

    And when I really think about it, I love my body. I love it for carrying me and keeping me alive through my eating disorder. I love it because it is the only one I have and the only one I’ll ever have, and it is the same shell at 120 pounds and at 300 pounds. I need to nourish it always because it is always loving me, everyday that I breathe.

    I demand that everyone stop using the phrases: “losing/gaining weight.”

    When we change our bodies, there should be one thought attached to it: comfortability and vitality. And, depending on where your body is: it may need to go UP or DOWN in weight to achieve this. Unlike the media preaches: not all of us need to go downward in size. Most of us are fine just the way we are. 

    There has pretty much been a negative connotation attached to weight-gain. We have made it seem shameful to put on pounds. But, it is most certainly NOT A BAD THING. And we have attached adoration and praise to losing weight. As if it always involves willpower and impossibility. When in fact, losing OR gaining weight can=fatality. Just as either one can=life and nourishment.

    Stop referring to a body as something that “loses and gains weight.” If you are tempted to say something like that: change the phrase to something that does not have a negative predisposition.

    All I want to do is preach self-love and body-positivity. And in those moments of self-doubt, remember there are more important things than our bodies. Put on a funny movie as a reminder not to take life so seriously. Or go on an adventure with a friend. Use those times as a challenge to rediscover whats really important in life.

    CLICK FOR PART 2