This beautiful piece comes from someone I am honored to know, and to walk with a bit on her journey of healing.Claudia Cameratti will be a monthly contributor to our blog ( her blogs will also be posted in Spanish). Chevese and I are delighted to bring her voice to you. She has so much wisdom to share.
I am Claudia Cameratti, educator and researcher from Chile, currently living in the US. My educational background includes an MA in cognitive development and a PhD in educational studies
I am also in process of recovering from BED and dieting and want to share some of the experiences I had in this journey with others navigating their own processes of recovery. It is my hope that these ideas help us in recognizing and respecting our bodies and our own humanity, creating a collective that offers support and compassion.
Today I am sharing parts of a story that is both deeply and painfully personal, and yet very regular and ordinary. In my journey of recovery from binge eating and a life dieting, I have listened to multiple podcasts, watched hundreds of videos, and read plenty of blogposts from women all over the world, to discover that the stories they tell about struggling with BED and dieting could easily have my name on it. These are the stories of the first time someone took us to a doctor and we learned that our bodies were not "adequate" and that our natural signals should not be trusted. I was 8 years old when I started the first weight loss "treatment" and I remember learning that I was wrong every time I felt hungry after my diet meal, instead the doctor's diet was always right. He knew what and how much of each food I should eat to be "adequate". I was always wrong, my body was the proof.
These are also the stories of the hours, days, months, and years spent counting calories, weighing pieces of chicken breasts, treasuring and fearing at the same time the idea of rice, bread, or pasta, not even allowing the possibility of french fries or ice cream. I have lost count of how much time and energy I spent doing this work, but I can tell you that I developed the superpower of looking at a plate and being able to tell you the full nutritional information...I bet you can too.
Most of all, these are the stories of shame, of hiding our bodies, of hiding food and eating it quickly before someone finds out, of hiding our hunger, our needs. These are stories about growing up knowing that the store will not have clothing for us, fat girls, because there is no space for us in fashion, in feeling beautiful, comfortable, and empowered. These are the stories about internalizing that there is something intrinsically wrong in us, something that needs to be controlled, fixed, and of course reduced, heavily reduced, until we become invisible.
These are certainly painful stories, but finding them has given me peace. It has helped me learn that I am not alone, that I am not the one who was broken, I am not the one who failed. It is this thing we call the system, the culture, society or whatever you want to call it, the one who has failed to include me, recognize me, respect me… Respect us.
In this journey recovering from binge eating, I have found the support and understanding of the wonderful Amy Pershing, my therapist, and a sisterhood of women who share painful memories, but also amazing strength. In this journey I have learned that BED and a life dieting has little to do with food. Even in the most extreme case of dieting, when I joined a very respectful program at a university hospital in Chile, and I ate 800 calories a day for a year, I did not go to my doctor asking for more food. I remember telling him that this diet was taking my life away, that the emotional and physical energy spent measuring food, preparing meal boxes to bring to every single social event where I was not allowed to touch any food, thinking about what I wanted to eat, but was not allowed to, about what I should eat but did not want to, counting the hours for the next day to finally have breakfast... all of that... was literally taking over my life. I could not take any more! I did not want more food at that time, I wanted my life back! That was what was taken away from me! Not chips, not pizza, my life!
…By the way, doctor’s answer was "okay, let's put you on Prozac." Problem solved???
Through my recovery I have learned about being compassionate with myself, about trusting myself and my body, and about using this anger I feel for all those years taken away from me, to advocate for myself and for others. I have learned to tell the world that I am smart, beautiful, funny, and cool, regardless of the size my hips, my arms, and my belly. That I respect others, pay my taxes religiously, and expect exactly the same respect from the world. That I am not broken, I was never broken, just bruised after years of trauma. And I have learned that my strength and the strength of all of those recovering women around the world can be the starting impulse for those just beginning their journey. Let's continue in this journey together and in the way, let’s give ourselves permission to eat the world!