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  • Writer's pictureHope Vista


I’m a panicker. I’m finicky. I worry about every single bite of food that passes my lips. I worry about what it’ll do to me, to my psyche. You see, I have body dysmorphia, and have no clue what I look like. I’ve also been in eating disorder recovery for 10 years. Despite passing that landmark, I still to this day worry. The onslaught of COVID-19 did not help, as I ate my way through the initial round of isolation. I have often questioned, ‘will I ever be able to just eat?’ Are these questions going to run through my head until the day I die. The uncertainty and fear are two things that hold my brain hostage when choosing what to eat for a singular meal.

As the first year of COVID-19 passed, I adopted an 80/20 meal regimen. This essentially means that I eat ‘healthy’ foods 80% of the time, and the other 20% is ‘unhealthy’ foods. I felt like this was a good way to not deprive myself - you don’t want to do that. That’s what leads to really unhealthy habits. 80/20 never felt like a diet - and it still doesn’t, because it’s not. It was more of a lifestyle decision to try and keep myself on an even keel. And as I decided to partake in an 80/20 lifestyle, I also decided that I was going to eat whatever the hell I wanted.

My diet has always been quite healthy as it is. I grew up in the competitive dance world, always pulling out healthy snacks to fuel my body for long exercise nights. It was necessary to keep myself fueled - otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to dance at all. Those healthy behaviors evolved into dangerous ones during my junior and senior years of high school, as I developed anorexia and lost a slew of weight. The weight that I lost didn’t even really exist to begin with.

As I pulled myself out of the pit of anorexia, I flipped, and began to binge. I had deprived myself of sheer nutrition for 2 years, and my body was hungry. My mind was starving. I just wanted to eat everything, and that wasn’t a healthy habit either. I didn’t know what my body even looked like as I continued to put weight back on, and the inability to know what I looked like made everything more overwhelming. Ultimately, the cycle of binging thankfully didn’t last long, and things began to even out as I worked through college.

Fast forward to now - I’m a 29 year old publicist who eats 80/20, still struggling with body dysmorphia, and unaware of what I look like. I haven’t known for 12 years. But despite that ongoing uncertainty, eating what I want has never been more comfortable. Sure, I follow a general 80/20 landscape - but it’s okay if I don’t. I took the power back into my own hands when it came to decisions about food, because I wanted to hold it again. I give myself an outline, but don’t abuse myself if I don’t always color inside the lines. My groceries follow the 80/20 outline, but does every day look the exact same? Absolutely not, because I don’t want each day to be the same.

Some days are filled with a bit more nutrient-dense foods. Some are filled with less nutrient-dense options. Some days, I don’t eat a vegetable with lunch, and instead opt for a big bowl of pasta, my favorite selection. Do I know what I look like? No, I still don’t. But am I more comfortable eating than ever? Yes, because I hold the power of choice. It’s mine again, and I’ve grown to be content with that. I think following that 80/20 outline is the reason why; it gave me the opportunity to be open-minded and creative with the way that I’m eating, sans deprivation. Not allowing yourself the chance to indulge at all is restrictive. You want nutrient-dense meals and snacks, but it’s alright if not every meal is a huge bowl of salad. Fuel your body the way it tells you to, while also being mindful and attentive to your health; there are truly no limits.

Eating what I want has never, ever been more comfortable - and there’s no going back.

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