My old best friend and I used to be inseparable – hanging out in the bathroom after every meal.
At least I thought she was my friend.
She held my hand and patted my back as my knees pressed against the cold tile and my head hovered over the toilet. She encouraged me to keep going. She whispered the number of calories I had just eaten into my ear. She aided me between the gags that were bringing up my previous meal. When we were done, we silently sobbed and shook on the floor of the bathroom together. She picked me up and wiped the bile away from the corners of my mouth. We looked at our reflection in the mirror, hating ourselves.
During a heart-wrenching confrontation from my real friends, they told me they knew about my secret friend, and how much of a backstabber she was. I was finally convinced I was finally convinced we didn’t have a healthy relationship.
Her name was Bulimia.
A year ago, I would eat anything and everything I wanted. When the thought of Bulimia entered my mind, she whispered in my ear, “It’s okay, all of these calories won’t even count after you purge.”
The “days since accident” tally now exceeds the number of fingers I once kept track on daily. The fingers that were once relentlessly shoved to the back of my throat are now used to keep track of my progress.
I now live a paleo lifestyle – not diet, lifestyle.
Paleo allows me to take control over what I’m putting into my body, reassuring I won’t later purge to get rid of it.
The paleo diet is synonymous with the diet of a caveman – everything natural, nothing processed. I’ve completely cut out all processed foods, sugar, carbs and dairy. You don’t have to count calories; you can eat as much as you want, as long as what you eat falls into the guidelines. The first few days were tricky but after a week, I rapidly fell into line with the expectations
My decision to go paleo as a recovery comes from the fact that there’s no limit to how much I can eat, just what I’m eating. I call it a lifestyle because “diet” seems harsh.
My friends ask “Oh God, why would you ever go paleo” followed by an eye roll. I typically respond by laughing it off and saying “New year, new me!” or “I’m just trying to be healthy.” Yet, my reasoning expands past the resolution trend. Here is my real answer. So don’t ask again why I would “ever do that” to myself.
Eating paleo is not torture for me. It puts me in a stable and healthy mindset. When I eat good, I feel good about myself – a concept that’s been vacant from my mind for several years. When I look in the mirror I no longer despise who I see, as a matter of fact, I’ve grown to love her. When I once could only see my imperfections, my face that once looked chubby and disgusting now appears glowing and happy in the mirror.
I look at myself through bright green eyes that I once thought were easily compared to a swampy lake. The shape of my body is unique and mine, and together we have grown to be healthy. I might not have the same measurements as a the girl on the cover of “Vogue” magazine. But when I see the real me in the mirror, I’m nothing but proud.
For me, substituting homemade salads for the weekly trips to Raising Cane’s deems a self-earned high-five. I don’t sit out when my friends plan a dinner to Spin or a quick stop by Chipotle because almost any restaurant offers paleo options or with a few tweaks, meals easily made paleo.
Bulimia had become my life. She made me form lies around her. She was the friend I had to sneak around with and when conversations about eating disorders came up, I opted not to talk, with the fear of knowing far too much and letting it slip.
Part of me thought it was something I was never going to be able to overcome. But now I have a new best friend: paleo. I see how a real friend should treat me. She helps me grow as a person and opens me to new opportunities that I was previously too insecure to take on. Thanks to paleo, I have evolved into loving myself.
Bulimia? Doesn’t ring a bell . . .