I very hesitantly sent out a newsletter to my email list at the end of June. I had put it off for awhile because I wasn’t certain I wanted to say what I had planned to say. But I choose to share and had such an incredibly positive response of people saying, “me too”. Because of that, I wanted to share it as a blogpost as well.

Recovering from an eating disorder taught me how to see in color. I used to only see two options – right/wrong, good/bad, true/false… I had a very black and white mentality that wasn’t just mentally exhausting, it fueled an extremely dysfunctional and dangerous relationship with food and my body.

One of the ways I trained my brain to avoid all or nothing thinking errors was to ask myself, “what’s the 3rd option here?”. What I found was there always IS a 3rd option. And every time I stretched my mind to find it, I found a little more peace, acceptance and trust for myself, food and my body.

3rd option

Recovery was excruciatingly difficult, but I am so grateful for what I learned. Mental flexibility is one of the gifts that recovery gave me. It’s made me a more effective problem solver and a more level headed person. It’s helped me to not make impulsive, emotionally charged decisions and instead give myself time to understand and learn. It’s allowed me to avoid getting swept up in the noise of opinion and form my own original thoughts. I’ve learned that I can hold space for a lot of different ideas, opinions, feelings or thoughts without immediately needing to pick sides in order for things to make sense.

There’s a lot of hurt, anger, senseless violence and hatred in the world right now. This current climate makes it easy to feel like you need to pick sides. And honestly, maybe we do.?? But once again I find myself in the messy middle where I’m needing to hold space for a lot of different thoughts, feelings and experiences. And I keep finding myself asking, “is there a 3rd option?”. It feels like there could be.

At the very least, I’m having what may seem to be contradictory thoughts:

  • I believe that Black Lives Matter AND I’m sick about how our country is treating our police force
  • I want to learn how to be anti-racist AND I don’t think I need to post about it on social media
  • I support law enforcement AND wholeheartedly disagree with police brutality
  • I believe the world needs America, it’s freedoms, and form of government AND clearly there’s a lot of room for improvement
  • Our history isn’t perfect AND I hope we can learn from it without destroying it OR glamourizing it

There’s so many more things I could add, but hopefully you see my point. I also hope you know that I respect you beliefs as much as my own.

I also very much recognize that I’m still learning and am no authority on any of the above topics. But I am an expert on food and body image so let me bring it back to that.

You can learn to hold seemingly contradictory thoughts about food and your body:

  1. You can hate how you look AND still choose to respect your body.
  2. You can be uncertain about what your body is communicating to you AND just make your best guess and move on.
  3. You can hate the idea of putting on a swimsuit AND put it on anyway because you like to swim.
  4. You could be scared of eating a certain food AND know you have to eat it to feel less anxious about it.
  5. You can know you’re full AND still choose to eat because it’s delicious.
  6. You can be scared of honoring your hunger late at night AND choose to eat because you’ll sleep better.
  7. You can be sad that you are full AND choose to stop eating to save the rest for when you are hungry again.
  8. You can hate the size of your thighs AND love that they feel strong when you run.
  9. You can appreciate your body for making babies AND hate that you pee a little when you sneeze.
  10. You can love that you are older and wiser AND dislike the physical changes that aging brings.

And so much more. In fact, I’d really encourage you to make your own AND statements. What seemingly contradictory thoughts are you having about food and your body? Can you learn to hold space for ALL of it? I’ve written about my experience with AND statements before in this past blogpost:

Eating Disorders, Infertility, Anger and Regret

I hope this was helpful to you! Thanks for reading – don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know what you think.