Hila Luxenburg
Hila Luxenburg Hila Luxenburg is 29 years old, mother of Uriya and resident of Alon. She is a personal coach, coaching groups and individuals in changing eating habits and personal empowerment. Sunday 22.3.15 No comments 1849 views

It’s Official – I have an Eating Disorder

It all started when I was pregnant, or more precisely – after I gave birth. So many things happen to us after we give birth – our bodies change, the cellulite stops by for a visit. I suddenly started doing all sorts of adult things, and it was then that I realized that they’d tricked me all this time when they said that after you give birth, the senility goes away.

As if these side effects weren’t enough, I got one more: I started to eat. A lot. Really a lot. Everything. And no, I’m not one of those skinny, annoying girls who say that they haven’t stopped eating since they woke up just because a hamburger, handful of chips and sip of orange juice entered their mouths. When I say that I ate all day long, I mean it literally. I ate all day long.

Before I would even brush my teeth in the morning, the fridge was open. I would start the day with a few leftovers from the day before – a meatball, or a square of lasagna, a few bites of rice – you know, the usual things to start off your morning.

After eating something savory, I would crave something sweet, and after something sweet – I needed something savory, and after the salt, I again needed sugar, and how can you round off the sweetness without a bite of something savory?

I can honestly say that I focused every minute of my day on thinking – what can I eat now?

The fact that I had eaten a few minutes earlier had zero impact on my ability to eat again. Even when I felt so full that I could throw up, it’d didn’t make a difference. It was clear to me that if I thought about it enough, I could find something else that I felt like eating.

So I would find myself eating a malawach (Traditional Yemenite fried dough consisting of thin layers of puff pastry brushed with oil and fried) with melted cheese, followed by a malawach with chocolate, to balance the saltiness. Then I would stop over at the nearest restaurant to get myself something, but on the way I’d see a bakery and buy a few pastries to tide me over until whatever I ordered at the restaurant was ready. After the restaurant, I would go back to the bakery to buy a few sweet croissants, because I need to have something sweet after the savory. Next, passing by the candy stall at the shuk (Open-air market). I would fill up an entire bag of gummy candies, because at that price, it was really a shame not to buy them. And let’s not forget traveling. There was not a drive that I didn’t stop at one of the gas stations to buy a sandwich, four bars of chocolate for NIS 11, savory Moroccan cookies just in case, a vanilla milkshake to quench my thirst and a package of marshmallows. I might have been the gas station’s best customer.

The results were foreseeable. In a month, I would gain about four-five kilograms. I’d stand in front of the mirror on days when it was hard to find something to wear (mostly because everything already looked horrible on me or because the button on my pants simply wouldn’t close anymore). Anyone who knows me also knows that a few extra kilos are an excellent reason to get depressed, so reaching the difficult decision didn’t take long – full speed ahead to the diet!

I would shed the extra kilograms with relative ease – at least most of them. But I longed for food so much. I missed the freedom of eating whenever I felt like it, enjoying some nighttime snacks, gummy candies, and anything sugary in general (and don’t say that’s what fruit is for, because fruit really, really didn’t satisfy me).

So I went back to eating. A lot. Really a lot. Everything. Again. And guess what happened after that? Within a month, I would gain four-five kilograms, and again – full speed ahead to the diet!

Four years of my life went by like this, in two possible states: either I would eat non-stop and without limits, or I was on a diet. I didn’t know any other way. And this seemed totally fine to me. All girls are like that, I often convinced myself – they eat a ton and then go on a diet. I’m definitely not an unusual case.

One evening, I went out with a friend to a street festival. I don’t know about you, but one of the main reasons that I love festivals is because they always include cool food stands. It was clear to me that we would first go to eat, and then maybe see what the festival had to offer. “Alright, so what are we eating?” I asked him after I contributed about half an hour of small talk. “I don’t want anything,” he replied, “I’m not hungry.”

I won’t forget his answer as long as I live. I really, truly couldn’t understand it. He’s not hungry. Yeah, so what? You don’t need to be hungry to eat. He’s really going to give up on all of these food stands just because he’s not hungry??

That same evening, as I stood open-mouthed at his answer, while I ate Thai stir fry, a pita with labaneh (Arabic for a soft cheese made from strained yoghurt, similar to Greek yoghurt), and a French crepe; there, that same evening, I understood that I in fact for years had not eaten because I was hungry. I had completely forgotten that clear and obvious part of life – that we eat when we have this feeling inside that’s called hunger.

There, that same evening, I understood for the first time that I was dealing with an eating disorder.

The very next morning, I made an appointment to see a dietician. It was a service I could get through my health insurance plan. Doctors specializing in eating disorders also saw me on a regular basis. But nothing helped. On the way to the appointments, I would still stop at one of the gas stations, and afterward, I would visit the nearest bakery.

***

About a year and a half ago, I completed my training as a personal coach. To me, coaching isn’t just another method of therapy that helps with a specific element or area in a person’s life. It isn’t just another occupation either. Coaching to me is really a way of life. It never ends, and every day is another opportunity to grow and learn something new about myself.

Through the world of coaching, I understood, and every day I understand anew, how everything that we choose to do in life reflects and testifies to our behavioral patterns, beliefs, habits which hinder or advance us, and to how connected we actually are to our inner selves.

Where does it begin? With our most basic, everyday actions.

Where did it start for me? With eating.

My eating patterns became a huge mirror for me which showed me serious things which were taking place inside of me.

I suddenly understood how disconnected and inattentive I was to my body, how disconnected I was from myself.

My body talks to me all the time, and I simply don’t stop for a moment to really listen to it. Am I hungry? Do I really feel like eating now?

I looked for my passion in life through the most common thing that I like to do – eating.

For four years, my body was sending me signals, and I couldn’t even keep quiet long enough to listen to what it had to say. It signaled to me with that heavy feeling that constantly accompanied me, the fatigue, moments sitting on my chair after a meal with my hands folded over my stomach, feeling that I couldn’t stand up. It was hard for me to perform any physical activity, and I felt negative energy day after day. Yes, I was sad, in pain and extinguished. Life passed by me, and all that interested me was finishing the day and getting into bed.

I always think about babies who are just born, before the routine and life mess up their natural habits. A baby eats every three hours. That’s what its body demands. The biological clock signals to the baby so naturally – I want to eat now. A baby won’t eat more than his or her body needs and won’t eat less either. A baby knows exactly what he/she needs to eat, when and how much.

How often does our body signal to us, our stomach shouts to us, but we don’t even listen?

How often do we choose to ignore the noises inside?

How often do we live our lives on auto pilot, without stopping for a moment and listening to our real needs?

I learned this through my eating habits, but we can also learn these things about ourselves through any everyday actions that we perform.

Inspired by the strong connection that I see between our eating patterns and ourselves, I began to instruct weight loss and proper eating groups, which focus exactly on this encounter between the body and the soul.

I must say that these meetings really move me, time after time.

It is amazing how each person encounters it from an entirely different angle. What is even more amazing to me is watching how people learn to discover themselves anew, no matter their age.

So yes, I still do adult things, I sometimes feel senile and I have cellulite. And yes, I still really like to eat and I fantasize about gummy candies quiet often. But for the first time in my life, I control my food and I don’t let it control me.

 

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