Bailey’s Journey Back to Intuitive Eating
Kia Ora (Hello),
My name is Bailey, I was born and raised in a small country town on the East Coast of the North Island in Aotearoa (New Zealand). These minute details may have no relevance at all to you, but in order to share my journey I must touch on where I came from and how I grew up.
Do you remember a time as kids when you’d play all day, right into the night (or at least until the street lamps turned on) until it was tea time, the only reason you’d go home was for a feed? Yup, that was me! Being a kid, naïve in nature with untouched thoughts or pre-conceived ideas was the way I lived, and I’m pretty sure how every other kid lived too. Food was fuel, no more or no less. A means of survival, to keep you going through all those neighbourhood games you’d play with the street kids. Or the occasional homemade ice-cream soda you’d happily down if your parents were feeling a little generous haha.
Intuitive eating came naturally to me as kid, as does most children. Most of our world was surrounded by fun and games, where social media and aesthetic trends (thigh gap) was unheard of. Fast forward to October, 2008 where I moved to Australia. Things here were TOTALLY different from back home. As soon as I enrolled into high-school I noticed a HUGE emphasis on fashion trends and the way you look, ultimately taking the cake!!! Girls my age in the bathroom doing their make-up left me speechless, I thought that was only for “adults”. Soon enough, I was into it too. Later down the track “healthy” eating became a popular craze, thankfully I was already on my own buzz within the health and fitness industry (being a Group Fitness Instructor at the age of 16), that nothing “shook” me when it came to well-known companies promoting “fat-free” yoghurt or “sugar-free” muesli bars. Often, I’d see many of my school mates getting sucked into those marketing schemes.
During the end of my high-school years, towards 2013 – 2014 I noticed I began to binge eat. Particularly during VCE (end of school year exam to determine uni entry score) my tendency to overeat and continue to scoff whatever into my gob, even when I was overly full ramped up. This continued for a while and led to weight gain. To combat this, I went on a few extreme diets such as the “soup diet” to help rid the excess fat. It worked, where a teeny tiny bit of weight dropped off, but really, we all know that you become extremely hungry throughout and more so by the finish, that you end up scoffing down more than you would have if you ate normally.
Instagram has now become a teenager’s dream to be fascinated by and idolize health, fashion and YouTube bloggers. Being in the fitness industry I was intrigued by an online influencer who was vegan, so decided to give the lifestyle a go. By March 2015 I became a full-blown vegan, it was absolutely great. I loved the food I was eating as I never liked red meat or seafood, and dairy made my stomach upset for that matter. By now, weight started to drop off like no-one’s business. I secretly loved it, but my body didn’t. Things quickly started to spiral out of control, and before I knew it I was a tiny 46kg (super unhealthy for my age and height). I lost my period for a long time. During this stretch, I realized I had a severe eating disorder called “Orthorexia” where you only want to eat food in its “purest” state. Get this…I would order an all-veggie juice and ask for them to squeeze in passionfruit to add sweetness, and if there was “too much” for my liking, I wouldn’t drink it, leave it on a shopping centre table and go buy a new one (hoping that it wouldn’t be the same).
You’ve probably gathered that this doesn’t add up, and it sounds like there’s something more sinister wreaking havoc behind the scenes. Yup, you guessed it I had severe OCD as a result of my eating disorder. I had many other OCD food tendencies like the one above, however we’ll save them for another day. Years went by living with these mental health disorders, still restricting my food intake (in terms of preference NOT quantity) until I was at my whit’s end where I knew I needed help. By this time, I was around 20kgs heavier. A life of restricting beautiful food, avoiding social situations that involved a meal and having tremendous anxiety around eating was soon about to change.
I heard Amy speaking at an event in Melbourne where she compassionately delved into eating disorders and I immediately knew I had to see her for help. I resonated SO much with her words it was as if she had lived my life. A year or two went by, until I plucked up the courage to see her as a Dietician. From day dot, she has been nothing but honest, supportive and an incredibly humble mentor!!!
Seeing Amy for my first visit I thought she was going to create a meal plan for me, and when she didn’t I was guttered as I thought that was my only hope to help me loose this stubborn fat once and for good. I walked out feeling a little disheartened, but I’m an optimistic person by nature and I knew good things where on the horizon.
By my second session, I started to understand Amy was trying to break my old thought patterns and replace them with positive new ones. For the first time in my life, I wholeheartedly understood and believed that a simple change of outlook can create an entire new world. We went through it all, the up’s, the down’s and the in-betweens where I felt like I was making moves, but still teetering on the edge about to fall back into old habits.
I can excitedly and truthfully say I’m FINALLY, YES FINALLY (after how many damn years…about 6 or 7) in a state where I’m content with my eating habits and body…BUT, I believe there’s always room for improvement! A few game-changing lessons Amy has kindly taught me frame intuitive eating and the importance of eating breakfast. These two teachings are what have pushed me to lead a SUCCESSFULLY HAPPY & HEALTHY life, and enjoy each bite with friends in a meaningful and rich way.
For me intuitive eating brought me back to that child-like headspace where we eat what we want, when we want and without ANY food restrictions. I now eat anything I desire, but what helps me to steer clear of any binge eating tendencies (which are usually a result of stress) is asking myself “I can have it, but do I really want it?”. Giving myself permission to have ALL the foods prevents any negative relationships. I also neither see food as “good” or “bad”. Rather, I view food and simply, just food. Some are more nutritionally dense that other, but it doesn’t mean you have to cut it out of your “diet”.
Onto breakfast…This is the one thing that has set me up for long-term success. Previously I would have brekky between 10 – 12pm which had left me in a fasted state for a very long while. From that point, my meals were very delayed throughout the day and I found myself eating long into the night, a time where your body should be preparing to “rest and digest”. Courtesy of Amy, we liken out body to a car. It needs fuel regularly throughout the day to function optimally, likewise we too need to fuel our body from the moment we rise to get the best out of our day. There’s no point at all in shoveling down a heap of food at the end of day when your “car” is supposed to be parked up in shop. Literally doesn’t make sense!
Brekky has become my favourite & MOST IMPORTANT meal of the day, and I now feel I can reach my full potential. I’m set up from the get go with a belly full of rich nutrients. By nature, I’m a Type-A, over-achieving, perfectionist type of gal so I think I was prone to an “obsessive personality” however, if I can overcome this, you can too!
Kick that “all or nothing” attitude to the curb and always remember “progress over perfection” (something I’m still wrapping my head around).
Thanks so much for hearing my story! I hope this can help you in some way & never, ever be afraid to ask for help, it show’s your strength & courage!!!