Food Freedom: Why I’m Never Dieting Again

Vegan, vegetarian, Master Cleanse, Fruit Cleanse, keto, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, Pescatarian, Reset Cleanse, fasting, tracking calories, laxatives, weighing portions, hypnosis, one-on-one therapy, group check-ins, intense exercise, removing trigger foods, appetite suppressor pills, Overeaters Anonymous, intermittent fasting, Juice Cleanse: what do all of these weight loss modalities have in common?

I’ve tried every single one.

And guess what? I still love food. I still think about food more than anything else. I still crave that cookie, head for the cupboard when I’m stressed, and eat faster and at a higher quantity than anyone I know.

This use to keep me up at night. This use to drag me into a spiral on a regular basis. This caused me to binge, restrict, and ultimately tainted my main source of happiness: Food.

So, like most people alive today, I took my issues to Instagram. And I actually made some positive discoveries.

Before I get into that, I’d like to acknowledge a lovely human I met several years ago. She is a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. One day, when we were having a drink and some nachos in Santa Monica, I opened up about my disordered eating. I had recently gone to a couple Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings and wanted to know her thoughts on the program.

She explained she advises against counting calories, restricting, cutting out food groups, missing events out out of fear of trigger foods, and using exercise as a means to justify eating. All of these tactics I had practiced at one point or another, and even been encouraged to partake in by supposed experts.

“We recommend people eat balanced meals that include fats, carbs, and protein. So, technically, nachos fit into that category,” she said.

I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, no pun intended. However, I still wasn’t 100 percent ready to put away the scale and delete MyFitnessPal.

Okay, back to Instagram. During the height of the pandemic and again around my birthday in May, I came within four pounds of my goal weight. Honestly, I wish I had stopped there and focused on maintaining. Instead, I pushed myself into a binge / restrict cycle that inevitably brought me up the scale a few stubborn pounds.

It was around that time I started watching “What I Eat In A Day” videos on Instagram. For hours, I would observe people eating (not in a gross way — these people were mostly fitness models). I learned later this is also a symptom of an eating disorder.

Eventually, all of these photos and captions about eating disorders began popping up on my Explore page. I watched women and men share their journey from suffering with an eating disorder to recovering through “food freedom” and “intuitive eating” practices. I heard psychologists, psychiatrists (including my own), and nutritionists support the same mentality my friend explained years prior. The disordered eaters discussed their inevitable junk food consumption and weight gain after breaking the diet cycle. Eventually, these normal-seeming people found what worked best and forged a healthy relationship with food.

At this point I was still tracking calories, running solely so I could eat a dense meal without shame, and regularly lashing out at my boyfriend because I was hungry.

Something had to change.

I was never fat. I was still miserable when I lost weight. I booked acting and modeling jobs at all different stages of weight fluctuation.

Why was I putting myself through this??

A big reason I stayed on the dieting merry-go-round was to impress other people. When family and friends complemented my weight loss and muscle gain, I felt I finally had control over something. No one could deny my progress: my physique was out there in the open. Every time I’d go home to Rhode Island, I’d obsess over how much weight I had to lose beforehand, and how much weight I’d gain while visiting.

In the end, the childhood trauma around being “too big to model” or “too big for guys to like me” or “too big to wear tight clothes” was running the show; not me. I had given away my power to false ideas — a voice in my head that didn’t belong to me.

And yes, being in the entertainment industry has been a trigger. For a while, I felt I had to be stick thin to book theatrical and commercial jobs — even though, like I said, I’ve booked jobs in my thinner and thicker phases. However, a theme kept coming up that I was too “in the middle.” Agents didn’t know where to put me. Athletic build but not super ripped, not plus size or curve but definitely not thin enough for runway, too tall and too sharp of a bone structure to be relatable; I was a marketing conundrum.

However, a lot has changed. Recently in a Zoom acting class, I watched a younger version of me waltz onto my laptop and slay her scene. The teacher praised her, listing shows she could see this young actress going out for.

But wait a minute! She had flabby arms. And maybe even some flab on her stomach. Thick legs like me!

And then it hit me.


I see more actors and models nowadays focusing on their craft, camera presence, and mental health, while physical activity remains an added bonus. Thank God. The people in power are finally getting a clue.

As most people know, America has a high obesity rate. So, the majority of us don’t relate to Twiggy lookalikes. People in catalogues should represent something attainable, not a body type that maybe 2 percent of women are born with.

Back to physical activity. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love exercise. I’m training for a marathon for God’s sake! Fitness remains my number one form of self-care, more so for the mental than physical benefits. But when it comes down to booking a role, the casting directors will almost always pick the person who tells the truth of the character — or who they feel can best sell the product — over the one with a flatter stomach.

So, at this point, I’m eating whatever I want. Lucky for me, I’m someone who prefers healthy food and exercise, but also loves cookies and pasta.

Speaking of that, I just had a bag of cookies delivered to my house for $20.

And that’s okay. I have gained five-ish pounds since I stopped stressing about menu options, counting calories, and restricting my diet, and I couldn’t be happier. I feel sexy, alive, and in touch with my body.

Granted, Food Freedom is still very new to me. I’m in the process of figuring out my routine, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t panic about weight gain. But in this moment, I’m loving life and praying I stay on this track.

To conclude, I’ve felt inclined to address diet culture with the holidays around the corner. I want people to know they have another option besides binging during Thanksgiving and Christmas, hating themselves, and starting Keto on January 1, only to be back at square one by January 15.

Maybe this year, try taking the shame, guilt, and overall negativity out of eating.

Let’s do an experiment: Tell yourself to not think about a pink elephant. Let me guess, a bright pink elephant just popped into your head! Same thing goes for overeating. If you tell yourself you can’t eat any desserts at a Christmas party, guess what? All you’ll think about is the desserts, and you’ll either end up eating so many you get sick OR you’ll be miserable the whole time, knowing you have to be “good.” Neither outcome is ideal.

Try this: view eating as an experience. Sit with each bite and observe the texture, flavors, and crunching sounds. If you find yourself panicking about an upcoming meal, binging, restricting, or all of the above, journal about it. Meditate on it. Breathe through it.

If you’re in a social situation (one of my binging triggers), find a new person to talk to. Put yourself out there. Don’t take things personally. Food is for pleasure and fuel, not to stuff down feelings of discomfort.

At the end of the day, no matter what happens, look in the mirror and say, “I enjoyed every bite of that cookie. I love myself and all of life’s amazing treasures.”

Stress is the enemy. If you’re stressing about eating a cookie, you’re probably doing more damage to your body than taking in the calories. These are facts, guys. Eat one, or two, or three, and stay positive. Do the same thing when you eat “healthy” foods.

Just trust me. Try it for a month. I guarantee you’ll be happier. I promise, at the end of the day, happiness is worth a few extra pounds on the scale.

Much love xo

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