I was a college student. Like many others I had an undecided major. I was full of doubt, anxiety, and self criticisms. I had no concept of wellness. I was tired all the time. I was unhappy and I was in pain.
I developed body dysmorphia and early onsets of bulimia.
I would think about the perceived flaws with my body constantly throughout the day, throughout the hour even. I was convinced that I was not good enough in part due to my body. I became obsessed with the idea that my body was severely flawed and that I needed to fix it.
With no concept of nutrition or health I looked towards bulimia as a solution to my issues.
Bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa, is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder that is characterized by a cycle of binge eating and purging. Binge eating is the consumption of large quantities of food, sometimes an enormous amount. Purging, or self-induced vomiting, is then done to compensate for the binge eating.
I would not have diagnosed myself as having bulimia nervosa. But it was the path I was headed towards based on the decisions I was making. That is, until I found the study of nutrition and dietetics.
These feelings of self-doubt and body image issues filtered from adolescence, but became more warped and wounding throughout college. There were many reasons for this. Whether it was because of my own self-criticisms or the criticisms of the people around me.
As I was dealing with these issues, among others, being a college student not knowing what I wanted to do was stressful and a source of much anxiety. I wanted to find something I was passionate about – something that was meaningful to myself and others. My sister recommended I look into Nutrition and Dietetics and once I found it I immersed myself into my studies. I was keen on learning more and enthralled by the subject matter. My grades began to soar (no thanks to Chemistry). I found a study that I was passionate about and it began to show – on my transcript and trickling out into my life.
With my new-found knowledge and growth, I began to look at food differently. Food became a source of sustainability for my body and my mind in which the narrative changed. Food’s sole purpose wasn’t just for survival anymore but for me to thrive and live and feel good about it. My body became flooded with nutrient-dense goodness, weight melted away without me being so conscious of it, and stayed away without me trying. But that wasn’t even close to my biggest incentive.
Nutrition was my route to healing. It let me come back to myself in ways I didn’t know I lost. It became a realm of creativity for me that was also the best form of self-care that I could give myself, especially at the time of my stress and for my future self. I began my own blog called Alaa’s Pantry, with the sole purpose of creating an outlet for myself to be creative and share my newfound food knowledge in hopes other people could benefit as I had.
We suffer today as a community, as a human race, with so many illnesses and diseases that could be prevented solely through what we consume. Highly processed foods, loaded with salt, sugar, preservatives, and pesticides, have taken the place of wholesome nutrient-dense foods. Our food systems and foods themselves have become commodified at the expense of our sustenance – and out sustenance is important. Our sustenance means living a high quality of life. And that is Important. We deserve to be nourished fruitfully – body and mind.
What I hope to achieve with Alaa’s Pantry is to simplify the discourse surrounding nutrition and health. I want people to look at nutrition, and the idea of eating wholesome foods as our norm. I want people to come to a place where we can change the discourse of “I’m eating healthy today” to “I’m eating” and for the default to be wholesome foods that are still delicious and satisfying. Both good for us and good for our planet. Accessible and affordable for every person on earth regardless of life circumstance. Nutrition is a basic human right.
I am no where near where I want to be when it comes to my daily diet and lifestyle. I’m still working on it everyday to diversify my foods, experiment in the kitchen even more, and to be more mindful and knowledgeable of how food is grown and where it comes from.
For those suffering with eating disorders, or body image issues, or other self-criticisms when it comes to diet and health, know that nutrition is one of the greatest forms of giving back to ourselves. It takes time, years even. And know you are worthy of that time. It becomes less about the number on the scale and more about all the goodness and replenishment you’re giving not just your body, but your soul.