I was 16 years old when my relationship with food went south. By age 18, I had diagnosable Anorexia Nervosa.
In the years that followed, I gained slowly while experimenting with diets, bingeing, restriction and over exercising.
I thought that restriction was the only way to be healthy and that my worth was connected to my size.
Then came the shift.
I met a cute Italian guy. And while I’m sure that being adored by a handsome man didn’t hurt, it was his culture around food that slowly began to change my mindset. In his eyes, there were no “bad” foods. Pasta, pizza, bread, and gelato were staples. And as I began to eat these foods unconditionally, I found that I was bingeing less.
Fast forward a few years and more than a few diets. The overt disordered eating had ended, but the dieting mentality continued. I still lived with an all or nothing mentality. Nearly every Sunday night consisted of a last supper meal, or three, because the following day was reserved for a new diet and/or new exercise regimen.
And then I got pregnant.
It wasn’t until then that I had ever considered that trusting my body was a good thing. Any chronic dieter will tell you that there are rules and those rules are the key to successful weight loss and maintenance. But suddenly, I was thrown into a situation where I had to trust my body. In addition, I had to give up control over my weight because it was quickly going up. And for someone with a history of anorexia, that’s not an easy thing to accept.
So for the first time in my life (well, since I was a child), I began to eat intuitively. I didn’t even really know what it was, I just knew that I had to listen to my body. There were things I didn’t like, there were things I craved; sometimes I ate a ton, sometimes I ate very little. And because I couldn’t go for a long run to burn off the calories I had consumed or start some new intense exercise program, I wasn’t able to compensate with exercise. I had to eat and sit still for the first time in over a decade. And it was uncomfortable, but such a relief.
I finally discovered that there is a simpler and better way to live. I reflected on my history with food and exercise and got wise to Intuitive Eating and the Anti-Diet movement.
And here comes the good part!
I no longer exercise to be thin or toned. I no longer restrict any food. My thoughts are no longer consumed with what my next meal will be or when I will get to binge next. I’m no longer searching for the diet that will bring me my dream body. In fact, I will never go on a diet again. I eat for enjoyment AND nourishment and I move in a way that feels good. While every moment isn’t perfect and there are some negative thoughts that come up occasionally, I know where they come from and I know where they belong.
My passion doesn’t lie in helping you count calories count or by telling you that the XXX diet is your ticket to the body you’ve always dreamed of. If that’s what you’re looking for, then I’m not your girl. Instead, I want to help you get free. Free from the voices that tell you that you need to shrink yourself to be happy. Free from misinformed dietary advice. Free from the stress that comes from obsessing over food and exercise.
We, as women, are limiting ourselves by focusing on how much bread we ate at dinner. It’s time to change the narrative. If you are struggling like I was, I invite you to work with me. Let’s work together to help you accept your incredible body, stop the dieting rollercoaster and free up all that brain space. Here’s to your healing journey.
Alona Orofino, MS, CNS, LDN, is an Integrative Nutritionist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor with a Masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health. She received her training from the Maryland University of Integrative and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. Alona resides in Fredericksburg, VA with her husband who is a chef from Italy. Together they own an Italian restaurant, Orofino.
Alona runs a weight inclusive practice that focuses on intuitive eating. Her desire is to help women create a healthy relationship with food and their bodies, to break the dieting cycle and to heal from disordered eating patterns.