Disordered eating is much more common than you may realize, but resources for help get better all the time as psychology reveals its emotional roots. In reading the book, Eating In The Light Of The Moon, by Anita Johnston PhD, I remembered my childhood friend’s extended problem with bulimia, and, I realized that I have my own emotional issues around controlling my food.
I remember that my friend was always the tallest girl in our class throughout grade school, and unfortunately, she was also the chubbiest. Being the “Big Girl” couldn’t have been easy for her, and her shyness, and low self-esteem showed. In 5th grade, she came down with a bad virus, and she was out of school for about 3 weeks. It was astonishing when she returned to school a thin version of her former self. She’d lost what looked like about 30 pounds!
She was elated about her new shape. From that point on, she’d bring a lunch to school but she’d only eat the apple in it. She wanted to stay slim and healthy, like her Mom. I remember that she’d never overeat anymore when we’d hang out after school and on weekends. She was on the skinny train, and she was going to stay on it.
What surprised me shortly after this point, was when she said that her Mom had told her it was okay to make herself throw up once in a while if ever she overate or felt too full. “OMG, WHAT?!?!”, I remember thinking. And so began 8-10 years of an off and on bulimic roller coaster for her. She saw it as normal, but she hid it from everyone. I actually tried it several times myself, but I didn’t get addicted to it, and so my weight didn’t fluctuate like hers did. She’d go through phases of stopping vomiting, overeating, gaining weight, and then the cycle would start all over again.
I don’t actually know what helped her to get off the roller coaster, because we drifted apart after high school. But I still wish, before she’d become malnourished, that I’d been able to hand her the book I just finished reading.
The subtitle of this excellent book is: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors, and storytelling. It’s rich with stories from ancient times as well as Anita’s own stories, so it’s actually fun to read. I found myself at the end of the book, well before I’d anticipated I’d finish it.
This book is valuable because through stories, truths are symbolic instead of literal, so they’re easy to apply personally. These symbolic truths help us to connect to our inner world of emotional needs, our deepest beliefs, our natural rhythms, to the rhythms of Mother Earth, and to the power of our intuitive wisdom. Anita Johnston helps us uncover our true feelings and needs, both from our recent experience AND from our childhood, from which we may have distracted ourselves with our patterns of controlling our food.
Halfway through this book, I realized that over the course of the past 20 years in developing my own expertise in healing with whole food nutrition and cooking, and in exercising great discipline with food nearly 100% of the time, was my unfounded childhood belief that I needed to have control over something.
This book was invaluable to me, it was a fun and quick read, and now I pass it on to you, because you never know who’s life it might save.