Hi friend! Anxiety is a pretty powerful word… and I don’t think it gets talked about enough when it comes to Orthorexia and recovery from other eating disorders. The the thing is, we need to know more about it!
And we need to know for sure that we can CRUSH it 😉
YES, I HAD ANXIETY… AND ORTHOREXIA
I never thought I’d be someone who said they had “anxiety”. I knew people who suffered with it seriously, and it prevented them from living their life, being social, and traveling. So, because I never suffered from anxiety in that way… I assumed I didn’t have anxiety.
But I was wrong.
I realize, now, how much my anxiety weighs me down sometimes… and you bet that contributes to having an unhealthy relationship with food.
Yup, stress and anxiety are HUGE factors in our relationship with food! Your relationship with food doesn’t exist in its own little bubble… it’s impacted by your entire life. Between relationships, career, school, family, friends, laundry, finances, cooking, cleaning, pets, and allllll that stuff… we have a LOT going on. And that all impacts our stress and anxiety… and therefore our relationship with food.
If you’re interested in healing your relationship with food, you can start your journey to Food Freedom here:
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M DEALING WITH ANXIETY?
I’m no stress, anxiety, or depression expert… but I know how my body feels. The thing is, I never realized it was anxiety until I figured out it wasn’t just stress – it was this underlying baseline of uneasiness and tension in my body and my mind… It was like I was in a constant state of panic from “nothing”. I felt distressed even though everything was going fine.
Maybe you can relate… maybe you’re dealing with something more serious… or maybe you’re just curious about it. Either way, having the awareness that something is going on below the surface emotions (like happiness, sadness, frustration, anger, and those kinds of things) is KEY to healing your relationship with food (and yourself).
Because you heal your relationship with food by working on YOU. So, I may not know exactly what you’re going through, but I do know this: you don’t have to keep feeling this way!!! And in my own life, I had to make some big changes if I wanted to stop feeling the weight of my entire life on my shoulders at all times. (It’s seriously exhausting!!!)
WHERE DOES ANXIETY COME FROM?
To tell you the truth, it’s most obvious in the morning. It makes me wake up and start my day before I’m ready – before I’m even awake… before I’ve had one minute to lay in my bed. I felt like I had to jump out of bed and immediately start working. The pressure to be successful is unbelievable. Working for myself, I’m my own boss… and every moment I’m not working feels like I’m wasting my time and my dreams are slipping away… (I’m calling this entrepreneurial induced anxiety – is this a real thing??!)
But that anxiety was manifesting itself in my body and mind wayyyy before I became my own boss. It’s like a snowball effect. It starts with this little tiny ball that gets bigger and bigger as it rolls down the hill. Yup, just picture me standing there at the bottom of the hill when it finally hits me as this giant snowball (ooops – not good!)
My anxiety probably first started when I was thinking about college, contemplating about my future, and deciding what I was going to do for the rest of my life. It was a stressful time for me to say the least. But maybe it’s caused by something else for you – anything that makes you feel unsafe or insecure can cause some anxiety or stress (whether it seems silly and insignificant or seems like a huge deal) … you just have to know how YOU feel.
And even though I was dealing with anxiety (and still feel it on occasion) I was, and still am happy, let me make that clear. For me, this anxiety is an underlying state of being that is below the surface of my happiness. It’s not until all the other emotions are gone that I truly feel what it’s like to have anxiety (like first thing in the morning).
HOW DOES THIS HURT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD?
Dealing with anxiety can absolutely have a HUGE impact on your relationship with food. Because when we have an unhealthy relationship with food in some way, it’s all about CONTROL… releasing it, gaining it, rebelling against it, or all of the above. And because I’m also a “type A” personality, meaning I’m super organized, super neat, super on-time, and strive for perfection in all areas of my life (no wonder I had orthorexia) letting go of control was definitely a hard thing to learn.
And I took that control into my relationship with food by…
- Wanting to lose weight so I could have a “perfect body” which led to an obsession with weight loss.
- Dedicating time to a fitness routine on a daily basis which led to an obsession with working out.
- Planning every single bite of food that went in my mouth which led to an obsession with calories.
- Worrying about the food quality of everything I ate which led to an obsession with being healthy.
But trying to have that much control only made my anxiety WORSE.
I started feeling food fear around “unhealthy foods” I once loved, worried constantly about gaining weight, and avoided doing social things that revolved around food (like meeting friends for dinner) because my anxiety around food took over every other emotion. Yeah…. control was a HUGE thing I had to let go of. Clearly, I was trying to control everything because of food and body image.
I talked about my tips in this Instagram post, but I wanted to expand on them a LOT more today!
HOW DO YOU CRUSH ANXIETY (AND ORTHOREXIA)?
So knowing that anxiety and control are connected to an unhealthy relationship with food… how do we release control and crush anxiety? And ultimately find Food Freedom?
1. GAIN AN AWARENESS OF HOW YOU TRULY FEEL.
From everything we’ve talked about so far, we know that dealing with my anxiety was also a HUGE part of healing my relationship with food. But I couldn’t have figured any of that out without starting with an awareness of how I truly felt.
I had to ask myself:
- Am I truly happy with how I feel in my body and my mind?
- What feelings does inner silence bring me? Am I feeling peace or worry?
- Do I honestly believe I have a healthy relationship with food? Or does it control me?
Releasing control and gaining awareness starts with being truly honest with yourself about how you feel. You can do this through journaling, meditation, coaching, or therapy. The whole idea is by gaining an awareness, you gain control of your own happiness. If you can do that, thoughts stop controlling your actions, you’re able to find peace instead of worry, and you have the ability to rationalize anxiety and stop it before it becomes overwhelming. You know.. before it’s a big snowball! 😉
But releasing control is definitely a challenge, I know that for sure!! I rebelled against control a lot too, which is why I also dealt with binge eating while battling orthorexia. But don’t let “mistakes” discourage you. Use those mistakes to learn and grow so you gain an even better understanding of how to heal your relationship with food.
2. DECIDE THAT THE UNIVERSE IS ALWAYS IN YOUR FAVOR.
This one was SUPER helpful for me. It sounds pretty crazy (not going to lie!) But if you get into the science of it all… your beliefs have a TON to do with how you feel (and therefore your anxiety and ability to find Food Freedom).
I basically want to harness the power of my beliefs to heal my relationship with food and stress. And in order to do that, I had to convince myself (or at least try as best I can) to live in abundance instead of limitations. Essentially, I was telling my nervous system (the thing that controls the brain) that – hey no one is out to get me – there is MORE than enough to go around. And you honestly hear this stuff all the time!!
It’s why people…
- Say to “treat others the way you want to be treated”.
- Donate their money and time to charities and causes.
- Practice gratitude (anything from journaling to small acts of kindness).
Making the shift from living in a state of “what if there’s not enough ___” to believing that things will work out fine… was GAME CHANGING. It takes some time to really get used to the idea and mindset shift, but it truly calms my mind and makes it easier to find the good vibes. I PRACTICE that belief by doing things like…
- Breaking free from disordered habits
- Crushing food fear
- Practicing self-love
- Creating happiness and positivity
- Utilizing the most important tool… practice
3. PRACTICE SELF CARE AND PERSONAL GROWTH.
The last step in crushing anxiety and orthorexia is to practice amazing self-care and empowering personal growth. You must, must, must use BOTH in order to move forward in life and also find peace in every moment.
It’s not enough to eat well, sleep well, move well, and love your body (all parts of self-care)… even though those are essential to finding Food Freedom and healing your relationship with food!!
You MUST also expand your horizons, and create an environment for powerful mindset shifts and emotional breakthroughs. You can do this by…
- Reading books
- Journaling your goals and intentions
- Listening to podcasts and audiobooks
- Learning new skills
- Embracing education
- Finding a community
While these things may not seem like they have a huge impact all at once, self-care and personal growth create the FOUNDATION for healing your relationship with food.
TAKEAWAY: CRUSHING ANXIETY IS PART OF FOOD FREEDOM
Believe me, anxiety and orthorexia go hand in hand… but you don’t have to live that way!! These 3 outlined tips work to heal anxiety AND FIND FOOD FREEDOM! The process takes time (so have compassion and patience with yourself) all of it works together to help you be your happiest AND healthiest self… as long as you give yourself the space to make empowering and sustainable changes!!
If you want more, you can download my free library of Food Freedom resources right here.
Did you learn something today? You might be interested in finding Food Freedom! Using the 3 strategies in this free workshop I crushed restriction and binging for LIFE! I’m sharing my best tips for healing your relationship with food (including lessons from my experience with orthorexia, binge eating, over exercising, body image, weight gain, weight loss, and restrictive dieting). In this workshop, you’ll learn how to create your own customized Food Freedom strategy that works for YOU.