Digital Detox

sugar snap peaA lot has changed for me since I started this blog.

When I started this blog four years ago, I had a new baby, I had just quit the 9–5 workforce, and I was trying to make it as a freelance writer and blogger. I was obsessed with going green and eating organic both for my and my new baby’s health. And I HAD to do it all on a budget, because I earned about $1500 that year. Total.

Today, my precious baby is now a precocious almost-5-yr-old, I run a successful content marketing business that grosses almost three times my previous 9–5 salary, I have team members, and I still love good food. I also lost my dad last year to leukemia, which changed my outlook on life.

But something else important has changed.

Last year, when my father was dying of cancer, I started seeing a therapist to help me deal with my grief, and she promptly diagnosed me with binge eating disorder.

This actually wasn’t the first time I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. Back in 2010, before I got pregnant, I saw a different therapist for a short time, and she also diagnosed me with “disordered eating.”

But I didn’t take the diagnosis very seriously either time.  It didn’t seem real to me — I didn’t have a real eating disorder (like anorexia or bulimia), I just had some issues around food. In 2011, when my primary care doctor asked me about the diagnosis in my file, I told her I was “better,” and she deleted it from the computer.

Just like that.

What I know now is that saying your eating disorder got “better” is kind of like saying an alcoholic or drug addict is “better.” We might be in recovery, but it’s not the sort of thing you ever cure.

In the last few months, I’ve gotten a lot more serious about tackling my eating disorder, and trying to come to a place of balance. For me, binge eating wasn’t about taking in thousands of calories at a single sitting (though I certainly did that as a teenager), but rather about the loss of control I felt around food, and the wild swings I had between restricting and eating anything and everything.

And one of the biggest changes I’ve experienced as I become more educated about my diagnosis and more open to working on those issues is that my feelings about food and food culture have shifted dramatically.

Junk in, junk out…

It’s become clichéd to say that the media isn’t good for women’s body images, but I realized this was actually extremely true for me. I would see magazines, Facebook posts, blog posts, TV programs all talking about the latest diet or “healthy” food fad, and I’d want to hop on that bandwagon so fast it’d make your boots spin.

But, as I was learning, dieting is a trigger for my eating disorder.

So I slowly started phasing things out. I’ve changed the magazines I buy from titles like Cooking Light and All You to body positive ones like Darling and Happinez and business mags like Independant.

I started unfollowing accounts on Facebook that were making me feel bad — for one reason or another. I unfollowed the Whole30 people, a couple of nutritionists, and even an acquaintance whom I like and respect very much — but who recently became a Beachbody coach, and whose posts were triggering for me.

Slowly, slowly I’ve been getting rid of the media that isn’t healthy for me, and replacing it with better stuff. I follow Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert, Bréne Brown and Geneen Roth.

And it’s made me come to some uncomfortable conclusions.

For a long time, one of the main rationales I had for fighting restrictive diets that promised me slender thighs and a less-jiggly belly was that I was a foodie; I couldn’t condone giving up entire food groups. I reveled in that self-appointed title. I loved being a food writer, a restaurant reviewer, someone in-the-know about cooking and eating and all things food.

But now I’m starting to realize, I don’t want food to define me any more. I don’t want my life to be all about what’s on my plate in public, while in private I agonize about what’s around my waist.

I’m craving more — and not more food.

Where does my voice fall?

I believe we have fetishized food in our culture to an unhealthy extreme.

One of the mental pitfalls I experience when I swing from permissive eating to restrictive is that I don’t know what to do: there are so many different rules out there, so much conflicting advice, so many hard and fast dogmas about what is and is not healthy that directly oppose one another. I become overwhelmed and, frankly, despondent that I will ever reach my goals — so I just go back to eating, because it’s easier.

To paraphrase Geneen Roth, when we are dieting, we are relying on other people to tell us what is right for our bodies. We’re listening to other people’s rules and advice and treating it as gospel.

When we give up dieting, we take back our voice.

I’m deep in the frightening process of remembering how to listen to my own body, to trust its innate wisdom, and to accept that the size it wants to be may or may not conform to what all the voices around me tell me I ought to be.

And I realized: I don’t want to be a part of the noise.

I don’t want to be one of those voices telling anyone else what’s right for them, for their body, for their family, for their life. I am actively trying to get away from that for myself, so I cannot abide the thought of being that distraction for anyone else.

I also realized that keeping up this blog in its current form had become a burden. What had once been a passion project had fizzled and become just one more thing on my to do list. And that’s never what I wanted this to be.

Putting the laughter back into Laughing Lemon Pie

This blog was born of joy. The family story that gives it its name was a moment of pure joy. The blog was born of a desire to share, to teach, to talk, to cook. For me, food has always been equated with love, and I wanted to share that love with an audience, with the world.

But I don’t want to contribute to the noise any more. I don’t want to be a part of that tsunami of information that keeps so many of us mired in negative thoughts, believing that we are wrong, or bad, or that foods fall somewhere on the spectrum of good vs. evil.

I need to preach what I hope to practice.

After much soul searching and talking with my dear friend and contributor, Emily Klopstein, we have decided to let the old version of Laughing Lemon Pie go. Its time has passed.

What that means practically is that we won’t be posting weekly any longer (unless we feel like it). We won’t be doing many sponsored posts, and I’ve removed the advertising from the site.

I also won’t be paying dear Emily to contribute here any more, though I will leave the door open if she ever feels the desire to come back and share!

It also means that you’ll probably be seeing more things like this essay, and fewer recipes, fewer reviews, and absolutely no dogma or judgement.

Instead, I may choose to talk about my journey, about the insights I gain as I turn my attention to the hard inner work of listening and being kind.

I still love to blog. I still love my silly laughing lemons. I want this to be a place that continues to provide joy, to me and others.

Thank you for coming with me on this journey.

Here’s to the next step.

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