World Mental Health Day with The Law Foodie
The Law Foodie discusses her battle with anorexia, working out and the importance of nutrition
For those of you who don't know me, I am a 26 year old trainee solicitor from Wales and I run a website and Instagram page called The Law Foodie.
World Mental health day is something that is really close to my heart as a sufferer of anxiety and an eating disorder I know all too well how it feels to have a mental health disorder and the stigma attached to it. Which is why I love days like this that promotes mental health awareness. It really is so important to recognise the signs and to be supportive of loved ones and others who are going through similar feelings and emotions.
I have battled my anorexia demons that saw my hair fall out. I wouldn't say that I am completely recovered as I still have days or weeks where those same thoughts come into my head but I now feel that I am better experienced and positioned to control them and read my own signs before it gets too bad.
Anorexia and me
I have suffered with weight related issues from a young age where I had thoughts like "I wish I looked like other girls" or "why am I so fat?" when in hindsight I realised that this was just all in my mind. I would cry and scream about clothes that would no longer fit me and it drove my family insane! At my 'biggest' size I was just a size 12 but to me it felt a lot bigger. I did not and do not have an issue with anyone being a size 12 or more as I strongly believe women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes but this mindset made me unreasonable when considering my own weight and I began to hate myself and my body at that size. Worst than this is that I've never once been called fat or been bullied for looking overweight, it was something I completely made up in my own head and insisted on telling myself.
"I was obsessed and things began to spiral out of control"
It wasn't until I was in my second year of university that my eating disorder took over my life. I would obsess over training even buying a treadmill for my bedroom so that I could run on it for hours on end. I then started crash dieting, trying every fad diet under the sun and began limiting myself to eating less than 500 calories per day. The result, as expected saw me drop to just 7st 12lbs in just a few months. This resulted in my hair falling out, my nails becoming brittle, cysts began growing on my ovaries due to the hormonal imbalance and I adopted a constant gaunt look which was far from attractive. The only energy I had was used to try and work out yet despite this, I still did not think that I was skinny enough. I was obsessed and things began to spiral out of control. I weighed everyday and watched the numbers drop. If it didn't drop then I'd send myself into a mood and punish myself by not eating.
I wouldn't say I suffered from anorexia just because I binged and purged. When everyone was worried about my health I would eat and then throw up straight away. This can happen, you can go from one eating disorder to another or you can experience a variety of symptoms at one time. There is a lack of understanding around eating disorders as the common misconception is that it is a physical illness and not mental but this is not true.
"...an eating disorder is also about your mindset."
It wasn't until I was hospitalised for fainting during my work experience and seeing how upset my family were that I decided to turn my life around. Surprisingly, after this incident I went to the doctors to seek help but was refused as I wasn't deemed "thin enough". That was when I relapsed. In my head I began to rationalise this illness once again by telling myself that if the doctors thought I was not a case of concern then I must clearly be fine. But now I know that this was so so wrong and that an eating disorder is also about your mindset. It's a mental health issue and that is where we need to raise awareness about it. Just because I didn't resemble a bag of bones did not mean I wasn't suffering.
My road to recovery
I started by documenting a food diary on Instagram to help track my progress, recipes and to connect with people going through the same struggles. I found that I started to fall in love with cooking again after being inspired by so many amazing people and food accounts and felt like I also wanted to spread the positivity and awareness as a way of giving back.
The most difficult obstacle i faced when trying to overcome my eating disorder was to change my mindset from food being my enemy to understanding that food was not only a source for sustenance and need but also of enjoyment. It took baby steps to achieve this change but once I realised that food gives you energy and that I was no longer tired and staying in bed all the time that's when I started to enjoy my food more.
Today, I don't track calories, macros and I never weigh myself. i've fallen in loved with food again and now I never diet, I choose to lead a healthy lifestyle keeping active and resting when I my body tells me too. It has taken me a long time to get to the stage where I can enjoy food again without the guilt and I choose to share that with my followers as a sense of accomplishment, motivation and education for others who are struggling with an eating disorder. I still have days where I feel guilty or too stressed to eat and I also find it hard to 'cut' or 'shred' for holidays or photoshoots as I am worried about falling into that bad mindset again.
As of now, I am stronger because of what I went through and fortunately it is more recognised now than what it was when I was suffering. Its not an easy journey and its not something you can just “get over” but there is A LOT of help and support out there now. Which is why I love social media, it is a great outlet for me to share my story, encourage others and make others know that they are not alone.
I also found BEAT (www.BEAT.co.uk) a huge help in recovering, they have so many inspirational stories and helpful resources that it is definitely worth a look. Check out the helplines below if you require any support or wish to read further information on eating disorders.
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
Helpline: (800) 931-2237
Types of eating disorders:
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