I am 18 and have struggled with eating problems for almost 5 years. As a child my mother was always obsessed with weight and eating healthy and organic foods. I wasn’t allowed all of the same foods the other kids were allowed to eat. As I got into my pre-teen years I started to gain a little weight and my mom would often tell me that she thought I was maybe gaining a little weight in my stomach but that I wasn’t fat I just needed to “watch out” or I might get that way one day. Since then I have constantly struggled with wanting to have the smallest stomach and an all around perfect body. My whole teen-age life I yo-yo dieted from eating anything I wanted to eating almost only 10 to 15 grams of fat a day… Now I have decided I don’t want to live that way anymore and though I have started eating more normal foods, I feel fat. I can’t find a balance. Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop eating then I overeat. I now weigh about *** pounds and wear a size *** about but my stomach just feels fat to me even though I know that that is still a really small size and weight. I am so afraid that I am going to continue to gain weight and hate my body. I would like to get help from someone but I am going off to college in a couple of weeks. That scares me even more because I am afraid that I will gain the “freshman 15”. I don’t know what is a good balance of the right foods. Even though I feel fat I have decided not to go back to my old lifestyle because I know things will only get worse. I just want the “tapes” Constance talked about in her book to go away. Do you have any suggestions??? – Kristina
You have taken a HUGE first step towards finding balance—deciding to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting and be free from food and weight obsessions. This is wonderful, and you will succeed. You are clearly ready to change “the tapes” in your head.
First, let’s talk about rounded bellies in girls and women. You need to understand that the weight you gained during your preteen years was simply a part of normal growth and development. Many girls “round out” before getting taller. It’s unfortunate that your mother instilled unfounded fears in you during that sensitive time of your life. In general, a curved belly is the norm for teens and women—a sign of a healthy body with female organs in all the right places. We have to stop believing that we should sacrifice so much for so-called “washboard abs,” which just aren’t natural—or realistic—for the vast majority of us. The heartache just isn’t worth it!
Regarding your desire to find health and balance in your eating, I think you’ll find many of the articles in the “Eat Well, Live Well” section helpful. Take some time to read them over (more than once), especially “Eleven Keys to a Healthy Lifestyle“. You’ll find information about hunger, overeating, healthful eating and building in treats. Also, read “Heaviness and Weight Gain Explained” in “The Truth About…” section. You are asking so many questions that are right on target, and I think you’ll find many answers in those articles. Also, read Constance’s book again. It is packed with such good information; I think you will absorb even more the second time around. It’s going to take some time and effort to undo patterns that were ingrained in you since childhood, but the freedom will be worth it!
Feel free to write back with more specific questions after you have taken some time to absorb the information I’m recommending. Also, when you get to college, go to your health clinic to find out what kind of support they offer for those who have struggled with disordered eating. This will be another important step in your new beginning.
Choose to believe the truth, and stay determined to change!