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Some days I want to yell in anger. I want to fight, kick, and scream at diet culture. I want to get mad at the years of my life that were taken away from me because I could only think through a foggy lens of disordered eating and body dissatisfaction. So many years were spent in a shame, self-deprecating, restrictive, anxious manner, that I didn't have much room for feeling anything joy, love, contentment, safety.

So now, in moments I hear the diet culture voice in the back of my head, I allow myself to get angry. Why? It allows for empowerment, accountability, freedom to take back what is rightfully mine.

I can 100% put some of the blame for how I treated myself on diet culture and unrealistic societal standards, but the rest of the responsibility? I GET to put on myself because there is so much power and growth in that too.

In many ways using food to cope can be interwoven with body image, but sometimes, it has nothing to do with body image AT ALL. Food for me was also used as a way to avoid, control, and self-sooth.

When life felt out of control, when feeling felt too hard, food could numb and inflict pain better than anything else.

When I was afraid of who I was, afraid of not being accepted, or good enough, when I felt lonely, lost, and misunderstood, food was my partner.

Numbing via restriction felt just as cathartic as bingeing to fill a deep void. But it never lasted, because externally filling will never fill what has to be internally given.

I had to learn to accept who I was, to learn my own worth, my own strengths, my own limitations. I had to stop running and start taking responsibility for myself and my needs.

It's ok if you aren't ready to feel, if food helps calm your anxious heart, but know there is another way. Know that happiness 24/7 isn't a thing, but understanding your experiences and the plethora of emotions life gives us, is incredibly empowering.

-Kaitlin Bolt-Lovett, A Life Nourished