“How I Overcame Disordered Eating And Found What Works”

by | Mar 31, 2023 | Mental Health

Foodstagram is a universe on its own. Scrolling through, you’ll find Reels upon Reels of delicious dribbles and salads packed with #healthy ingredients. What you may not find in the caption is people talking about why they’re so into food – healthy food, specifically. Many people are struggling with bad eating habits, but how many actually overcame disordered eating?

When Jo Hill, the personality behind the popular foodie account @pullupsandpeanutbutter started on a journey where she overcame disordered eating in 2018, she realised that part of her food journey was to also speak about her recovery openly. It formed part of her entry into our very own Women’s Health Fit Foodie competition in 2018.

“I hadn’t realized at the time that there were other women who could relate to what it was that I’d been through,” she says.  

How it started

At the time, Jo was competing in powerlifting competitions and it felt empowering. “It was quite a liberating sport because you’re focusing on the weight that you’re lifting and not what you look like,” she says.

However, the competitive side of the sport came with restrictions that forced Jo back into uncomfortable territory. In order to compete in her weight category, she needed to lose weight in a very short amount of time for the weigh-in that preceded competitions. “The diet that I was given by my trainer at the time was like 800 calories [a day] and I needed to weigh myself every day,” Jo recalls. While it was only for two weeks, Jo experienced problems, since she had done restrictive dieting like this for years. “I was under-eating so much and my metabolism was just so used to receiving so few calories that I wasn’t losing any weight,” she says. Soon after, she quit the sport for something more mindful.

The big change

With this, Jo decided to “flip the narrative” on the content she shared. “I think the first blog post on my website was about me ruining my metabolism through extreme dieting,” she says. Soon thereafter, sharing became part of her journey toward healing.

This involved gaining weight, which was a scary prospect for someone who’d been so afraid of food for so long that she’d stuck to tiny caloric allowances for years, even eliminating nuts and avocado from her diet (even healthy fats can become scary). “I think that’s when I decided to start creating healthy recipes that I could include and to try and make little challenges for myself to overcome fear foods,” she says. Part of overcoming her fear? Creating decadent treats with healthier ingredients. Enter protein doughnuts and anything chocolate, including low-calorie waffles, brownies and power balls.

How it’s going

Through sharing her journey, she realised that many women had unhealthy attitudes towards food and viewed so many things as “bad”. Jo disagrees with this view completely. “There is no messing because there’s not a diet and there’s no finish line. It’s creating a healthy lifestyle that you can sustain,” she says. “And if it’s having a slice of cake, that’s healthy. Yes, it’s obvious it’s not ‘healthy’, but it’s healthy for your mental health.”

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