The Problem With Very Particular Portions

“You sure eat a lot.”

“You’re eating AGAIN?”

“Didn’t you just eat?”

These were the kind of comments I received—not just in my mind when I had an eating disorder, but also from those around me as I was recovering. And in the midst of recovery, I was taking in a lot of food. I thought that the hunger would never end, and I felt powerless to stop it.

Granted, not everyone knew I struggled with disordered eating. Many may have thought they were “helping” me. The misconceptions about eating disorders probably made many people think I was “cured” once I gained weight. Perhaps they thought that I wasn’t aware of how much I had gained, or what to do about it (as if anything “needed” to be done).

Instead of “helping” me, people’s comments about how much I was eating only caused me to hide what I ate even more. I snuck food after eating what others would deem the “correct” amount. This need to eat more, I believed, further proved how “out of control” and “broken” I really was.

Recovery felt like I was not just fighting back against a personal eating disorder, but also against a society that believes there is an absolute “right” and “wrong” way to eat, or that there’s a certain amount of each food everyone should eat—and that it’s the same across the board.

Dietitian Dialing In

When I began working with a registered sports dietitian, she did give me portion size examples for my meal plan. But she emphasized that it was a guide, or a place to work from. From there, I learned how to understand my body and hunger.

You might be thinking, okay, the dietitian helped Rachael to see that she didn’t need to eat as much as she thought she did. Actually, it was quite the opposite: I learned how often I pushed away hunger, which worsened the restriction and increased the bingeing.

It felt like my RD gave me permission to eat more than my mind ever would.

Through this work with my dietitian, I could express my fears and figure out that hunger could feel different throughout the day, but that it was okay to honor it. I learned how to trust my body again and see that allowing myself to eat more created a much more satisfied, whole person. All of the times I wanted to eat, I realized, were valid. My dietitian helped me to see that I was not “broken” for wanting more food. My body was telling me something, and it was okay to listen.

The more I understood hunger and my body, the more I could ,concentrate on life. I could move on with my day and no longer think so much about food. It was then that I came to this wonderful conclusion: My body is the only one that knows its own “correct” portion sizes each day. And even that changes day to day.

In Recovery

In recovery now, I confidently eat as much as I want. I’m no longer bothered by people’s comments about my food or body. Where before I thought I would go out of control on a certain food, thinking I wouldn’t know how to stop, bingeing has taught me that my body did know when to stop—it just happened to stop outside of my comfort zone based on the rules and regulations I put on myself.

My hope is that we begin to see that our bodies are not as “out of control” as many of us think them to be. More often than not, the rules and constraints we put on our bodies often make us feel that we have something we must “contain.”

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