A client of mine, let’s call her Julie, came to me roughly six years ago with pretty extreme disordered eating. She wasn’t anorexic or bulimic, the more common eating disorders, but she had a severely unsavory relationship with food. Her physical health, in general, was quite good other than the fact that she was a bit too thin. She was a highly educated woman with access to healthy food and she had an appetite, but what she consumed and how she did it was of great concern. She wanted to shift but had no idea how to do it.
So the 911 call came in and after our initial two-hour evaluation I realized that my “troops” would need to be hauled in as my skill set as a culinary nutritionist was not enough for Julie. I could teach her about food, shopping, cooking and help her with her overall relationship on many levels but I couldn’t crack her “vault” alone—she needed a team, one comprised of a thoughtful and thorough medical doctor; a proper “talking doctor”; the right physical trainer; and perhaps even a credible healer (I am one for taking more alternative approaches to getting well).
In a nutshell, she basically knew how to eat healthfully but truly feared eating anything other than the same foods everyday including a protein shake for breakfast; roughly 4 cups of cooked vegetables daily with some turkey or chicken for lunch; and the same for dinner. She avoided grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash; beans; and fat (whether from oils, avocados, nuts or seeds) was surely a no no!
What I garnered from my first meeting with Julie was this—she was raised with privilege but at the same time had a very hard childhood. With an abusive, controlling and manipulative father she was left with an utter lack of self-esteem and was successfully “disabled”. Thus, she had many unresolved emotional issues (who doesn’t) that caused her to feel like her life was out of her control. And instead of facing and working through the issues that would inevitably allow her to gain the control over her life that she never had, over-managing what she ate was the only way to go.
But, with two small kids who started showing a distorted relationship with food, she had her “ah-ha” moment and realized that she needed to shift. Yeah Julie!
Given the pleasure of working with this amazing woman for the past six years, I have had the true honor of watching her put the time and hard work into herself whether with me or other practitioners. I am proud to say that today Julie has a renewed relationship with herself and food due to a lot of very hard work. She has shifted many things in her life with the love and guidance of her “troops” but she did the work! She eats differently, cooks and now enjoys a wide variety of foods, including some healthy fat! And her kids eating habits are improving.
Problems come in many shapes and sizes and given the range of people I have worked with over the years, I can tell you this—difficulties don’t discriminate and they afflict people of all socio-economic backgrounds. But I am a firm believer that for every problem there is a solution. And if there is a will, there is a way. If you are determined to change, like Julie was, you will despite your obstacles. The very first step to solving any problem is admitting that there is one. And Julie did just that.
There is no quick fix for a bad relationship with food—it’s an incredibly emotional issue for most. But it can be done if you are determined to change.
PS. The woman in this photo is not Julie!