With everyone seeming to say that one body type is ideal, dieting tends to be something to turn to, which doesn't always yield the best results. While dieting can be good for your health if done correctly, it can also be immensely unhealthy due to undereating: a decrease in happiness, a weak body, and damaged mental health due to the rumination over eating.

Here's Caitlyn's story on her difficult relationship with food and past obsession with diets, as well as her current journey towards eating more intuitively.

This series is a part of the Hindsight series. If you don't know what that is, here's a brief summary:

The Hindsight series consists of guest posts from various bloggers sharing their stories on Bloomly about any personal experience that they might have encountered that reflects personal growth, self-improvement, and/or struggles with mental health. The Hindsight series is about looking back on experiences that shaped who we are and have helped us grow, which we only see now with hindsight.

Learn more: About the Hindsight Series 
More Hindsight posts: Read the Series

I’ve always found all relationships to be difficult. Whether they be with my friends, a romantic partner, my family, or even myself, I’ve had hardships with each. But my struggles with relationship extends past just people to also include my relationship with food.

My relationship with food took a dive at the end of eighth grade. I’m not sure exactly what caused it, but knowing the cause wouldn’t help much anyway. All I know is that I believed I was overweight and I wanted to be smaller. At this time I was just getting into Seventeen magazine and they had just released a mini fitness magazine inside of their regular monthly magazine. Inside was a whole four or five week workout program and I started to do it. The thing was, it also had meal samples, but I wasn’t allowed to cook. So I made my own modification according to my very extensive (in all the wrong ways) internet search.

I ended up setting a 1200 calorie goal along with the rule that I had to eat something every two hours. The latter being because I had read somewhere that eating small meals every couple hours kept your blood sugar and metabolism up. I honestly have no idea if that is true. All I know is that both of these things screwed up my relationship with food.

I quickly became the person who obsessively counted every calorie. 

I kept a running total in my head all day long, and made sure to calculate my new total before any snack touched my tongue. I also became that hangry person every two or three hours. If the two hour mark came and went and I didn’t have food I would start to get fidgety. And if three hours past then I’d become awfully annoying and rude and stressed. I needed something to keep my metabolism going - supposedly.

In just about two months I had lost about twenty pounds. My hair started to thin. My nails were brittle and always broke. My period was gone. And yet it never occurred to me at the time that it might have something to do with the way I was controlling my food intake.

It wasn’t until a full year of this awful “diet” that I realized it wasn’t healthy. It was borderline, or maybe it really was, a serious health issue. So I made a promise to myself that I would stop. No more obsessively counting calories or letting my life revolve completely around food.

I stopped counting calories, but this stressed me out so much that I think I ate even less because of it. How was I supposed to know if I was eating too much if I couldn’t count how much I was eating!? Because of this I was always hungry. And I’m not talking that thing every girl tweets. I mean my stomach always felt empty (because it was), so when I went to parties and there were whole tables of food I would gorge myself. My body needed the food. But then I would be so full it would hurt and I’d end up on the bathroom floor crying. Crying because my stomach hurt, but also crying because I had just eaten so much.

I had made little, if no progress, toward the promise to myself.

Two years after making the promise to myself, I found IIFYM (if it fits your macros) from the fitness community. IIFYM is a diet that promises the eating of any food, so long as you hit your target intake of carbohydrate, fat, and protein by the end of the day. It’s actually marketed as being a non-restrictive diet and a way to regain a healthy relationship with food. It did involve counting calories, but it was more focused on my carbohydrate, fat, and protein intake. I felt great while following this diet, but having to count every little calories just flared up my past obsessive qualities too much so I quit after a couple months.

Since then, so for about four years now, I’ve been eating intuitively. And let me tell you, it has been hard as shit. 

But that’s the thing, eating when you’re hungry shouldn’t be so difficult. It should be natural. Because I tried so hard to alter my eating patterns, I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully recovered.

Every month I feel better and healthier than I did the last. But as always, I have my bad days and weeks. I have days that I want to curse myself for eating dessert. I have days where I’m tempting to not eat anything except crackers. Today if anyone ever says they ate too much or they feel bad because they ate like crap I get triggered. I start to evaluate everything I have eaten recently and panic because I think I had eaten more and worse than them. But I don’t give in. I tell the voice in my head to shove it and go on with life.

Now I struggle sometimes to remember what I ate yesterday. No longer can I recall every calorie I ate down to the crumb for the last week.

If I’m having a particularly hard day, I just remind myself of how far I’ve come over the last six years. Yes, I may have eaten a little too much and be uncomfortably full, but I didn’t eat so much that I ended up crying on the bathroom floor at a party. I might have eaten only small snacks all day, but at least I didn’t obsessively count each calorie in my head.

While my past disordered eating still rises to the surface sometimes, I feel so much more in control of my mind and relationship with food than I did during any of the last six years of my life. That’s what matters.

This is a story I haven’t really ever fully told. And this isn’t even the full story, but it still makes me crazy emotional. Eating patterns is such a triggering topic for me, which is partly why it’s taken me so long to tell this story. Just reminding myself of how I used to eat makes me want to try it again while also making me feel ashamed of what I used to put my body through.

This isn’t a sob story. This isn’t a cry for help. This is a call to make a change in our society. We need to teach people that they don’t need to be on a diet to be healthy. That losing weight won’t make you happier and no one needs to diet. Period. Dieting only screws with your eating patterns and emotions towards food, making it hard to have a healthy relationship with such a crucial necessity in life.

We, as a society, need to teach people that restrictive eating is not a solution to being pretty or popular or happy. Food is just food and it has nothing to do with who you are as a person. So instead of worrying about whether you should eat that doughnut or not, focus on being a kind person, because the world needs more of that. And then eat the doughnut to celebrate.

College with Caitlyn
About the Author: Caitlyn Stone
Caitlyn is a college and lifestyle blogger who loves to share advice for fellow college students. She is currently a junior at Northern Kentucky University where she’s studying Mathematics and Computer Science. When she’s not studying, working at the local library, or up in the gym, you can find her watching vlogs on YouTube, out shooting pictures, stalking her latest celebrity crush on Twitter, or crafting the perfect Instagram caption.

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