Healing Beyond Diet

Healing Beyond Diet, Part 4: Victoria G’s Story

This is the fourth post in my series ‘Healing Beyond Diet‘ where I am sharing stories of those in the chronic illness community who have dealt with eating disorders or developed disordered eating habits as a result of following restrictive “healing diets”. You can read more about the start of this series here.

Today, I am sharing Victoria’s story (no, not mine). She discusses her journey with multiple health issues, a history with an eating disorder, and how following a healing diet can be triggering at times.

I want to first provide a trigger warning (which I will do before each post in this series):  This post contains discussion about eating disorders/disordered eating. I trust that you will take care of yourself and do what is best for you in regards to putting yourself first for ultimate healing.

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Victoria’s Story

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Hi! I’m Victoria Grant, I’m 25 years old, live in Canada, and I’m an esthetician! I have dealt with IBS (constipation) since high school. It got worse after I dealt with a severe eating disorder and developed SIBO and thyroid problems.

1. Can you talk a little bit about your history with an eating disorder and if you are still struggling or feel like you are recovered from it?                                          I’ve had a long history with an eating disorder; it probably started in high school, but definitely got progressively worse throughout the years. When I was 23 I moved to England to be an au pair and the family was very busy and health conscious. I wanted to follow suit, but I went overboard, running a lot on top of under eating and walking everywhere. I dropped to a very low weight that year and returned home within months. I had a hard time coming to terms with it, but with help, I regained weight. I still suffered horribly from IBS issues, though, so I researched what was best for IBS and found myself on a Paleo type diet, which seems to “help” my symptoms best. I do still struggle with the ED aspect because, having such a long history, it’s hard to let go of it. I want to be able to control all of my symptoms all the time, too. I still have some bad body days.

2. If you began a restrictive “healing diet” for your illness, can you tell me why you chose to do that?             I started a restricted healing diet for my multiple symptoms: IBS, thyroid problems, allergies, anxiety, depression, low energy, skin problems, and many more. I chose it because it does seem to help a lot with control of some of my symptoms. It definitely doesn’t heal it in any way, but I think that I am in less pain with it.

3. How did going on the “healing diet” impact your ED/relationship with food?      

Going on the healing diet at first seemed liberating, as I wasn’t eating many foods anyway, so it expanded my diet in a way. Sometimes I still miss certain foods and I see how other people eat without symptoms so that sometimes makes me feel restricted and like I’m missing out. This can sometimes set off ED because it’s all about control. Going on a Paleo diet can definitely bring back ED thoughts, such as cutting more things out, as much as it can be healing. I still have flare ups randomly and will be like “ok well I have to cut that out then” and sometimes it can be a rabbit hole of cutting out foods and feeling bad about oneself. I also still struggle with my body and if I need to lose weight and be “healthier.” I have a lot of ups and downs in this journey, but we should ALWAYS base things on how we feel not how we look. As far as eating outside the Paleo diet, I sometimes treat myself to my favorite non-paleo cafe!
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4. Were you able to find ways to cope with/keep your ED under control while on the “healing diet”? If so, can you share some of those tips with the readers? If not, how did you move forward?                                                               I do definitely find ways of coping with my ED while on this diet. I reach out to others with similar issues, follow like minded individuals on Instagram for support, watch videos, talk to my parents, cook, bake and experiment, dance, laugh, and work on acceptance that you’re NOT perfect and don’t have to be. You’re going to have really bad days, we all do, but you’re also going to have good ones, hold onto those.

5. Do you have any tips on how to manage ED recovery with chronic illness recovery in terms of diet/food?     For tips to manage ED recovery with chronic illness, I would say talk to someone you trust, reach out to others, try to switch your mindset from “I can’t have this” to “for me to feel better, I choose these foods to nourish myself and I honor my body with these foods.” Sometimes the mind needs a lot of fixing from past ED voices and “rules” it takes A LOT of work, even writing down your thoughts helps. Practice changing your mind, practice meditation to clear unwanted thoughts, get massages, treat yourself how you would if someone else was going through this and speak to yourself how you would to someone else in this situation. Be kind to yourself 💕

6. Please share anything else you feel is relevant or you want to discuss around this topic.                                   When I first followed Victoria on Instagram and started watching her stories and YouTube videos, I had literally thought I was the only one who went through/ was going through such a unique situation, it’s really hard on the head and heart. Then, I began to find more and more people who are like us, we are all the same and have similar thoughts and struggles, that’s what brings us together and I think that shows some strength! Though we may seem weak sometimes, we are literally so strong for fighting each day. I think we all deserve a little appreciation for that. It’s pretty great that we have access to such a far and wide online world, it can be good and it can be bad, but for what it’s worth it brings me closer to others who struggle the same as me. I’ve made so many connections to this day, and still do. I’m learning a lot, not just about chronic illness, but about people and how alike we all are. We should be kinder to ourselves and others💕

You Can Find Victoria Here:

Instagram: @gutgirlheals

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