I have been writing and re-writing this piece for years. The timeline is all the same, how I got here is the same, but the current state of my life during these different writing attempts has varied.
Like life, my story is, and will be, a work in progress for as long as I am living. Depending on what is going on in my life, my moods, health and perspective all ebb and flow. That is part of B A L A N C E: acknowledging the changes, riding them versus fighting them, and re-calibrating.
I think up until this point I have overwhelmed myself with the need to share it all in a perfectly organized manner (that is the inner-most “Capricorn” side of me). Which is why I have not shared this yet. And to be honest, I probably never would have if perfection were what I am striving for… that’s not the case any more.
I hope that in sharing my story it will help someone, like me, who fought for so long in finding balance, joy and peace around food and eating.
The journey of my health began when I was a toddler and evolved into a bumpier road as I grew. I was born with countless allergies that brought me in and out of doctor’s offices. There were weeks when my parents would remove food and household items from my life to see if there would be an affect. I heard a lot of “no Megan, you can’t have that” growing up. Food was always a sensitive subject for me, but I never remember it bringing down my mood.
In elementary school my mom, Pegs, used to pack me lunches every day in brown paper bags. I remember I would throw them away and eat the cafeteria food like all my friends. I just wanted to fit in. That turned into hiding candies and other foods in my room that Pegs wouldn’t let me eat. I learned quickly that was one thing I could control, what I actually put into my body.
By the time I was in middle school my mother gave me control over what I put into my body. She no longer wanted to tell me what to do as she feared I would develop an eating disorder from constantly telling me what I could or could not eat. I was well on my way though…
I would lie to Pegs about what I was eating, hiding uneaten lunches in my room and eating whatever I wanted with my friends. I so desperately wanted to fit in when it came to food. Personally, I never had an issue making friends. I always had a huge group of friends from elementary school that grew when we moved into middle school and high school. I was always the outsider when it came to food though.
I can’t recall the exact time or day my eating disorder started. I know it was sometime during my sophomore year in high school. It’s not a memory my brain held on to – but that is roughly the first time I remember making myself throw up.
My sophomore year, 2004 to 2005, was one of the toughest years socially and developmentally for me. My older sister and I were not getting along AT ALL. I was branching out and finding new friends. I was sick a lot, at times due to allergies, but not always sure what exactly it was that was making me sick. I was having difficulties with Pegs who was going through menopause, and arguing with her often… I was all over the place…
That was when I turned to food. It was my source of control, but most importantly comfort. Every time I felt out of control or emotions I didn’t want to address, I would throw up. I wanted to feel nothing, empty.
During the summer of 2006, I got my sickest after a family reunion in Ocean Isle, North Carolina. For two weeks I was bed ridden with 104 fever and blisters lining my throat. I was down to 110 pounds and lost half of my hair. My immune system was completely depleted. I had hit rock bottom. It was the summer before my senior year and I was finally willing to do whatever it would take to never feel this sick again.
Pegs had been working with some Celiac clients and suggested we get tested. Our results came back that we were both severely gluten intolerant. I was floored. In 2006 gluten was not well known, or anything people were talking about.
For the greater portion of my senior year, we educated ourselves on how to live a gluten free lifestyle. We both knew I would be attending college in a different state so I had to learn how to accommodate my new lifestyle.
Eating gluten free was tough, but within three months I felt like a completely new person. The brain fog, tiredness, and constant dissatisfied hunger I felt all day were gone. The dark circle under my eyes began to fade and my skin cleared up to its normal even tone. And most importantly, I wasn’t getting sick. I loved how I felt. I knew I would never go back to eating gluten.
Like many, college was a playground, and the University of Colorado in Boulder was mine. The university had a specific dining hall with designated gluten free items, which made my new lifestyle easier to accommodate. I also felt comforted knowing that there were more people like me who had to eat this way.
Being far away from home for the first time in my life. I was constantly seeking comfort, which lead me back to food…
Freshman year of college, drinking masked my eating disorder. I never really enjoyed drinking, as I wasn’t good at controlling my intake. Being in a new state with new friends lead to a lot of late night parties. However, Boulder also had a huge hippie/stoner community, which brought forth my enjoyment of smoking weed.
Sororities didn’t rush until second semester. I remember visiting my older sister at her sorority in San Diego and thinking to myself how crazy it was. Being one of four girls in my family, I always enjoyed my guy friends. My love for community and school involvement though drove me to rush. Since I had already made friends with a lot of Pi Phi Sophomores I thought I was a shoe-in. That was not the case.
Due to a glitch in their system I was dropped for grades, when I actually had a high enough GPA. The older girls would call me during rush, and said they would write me in after normal rush. I was so confused. Even though I knew sororities weren’t for me, the feeling of it being out of my control when everything should have been in my favor broke me down.
I remember sitting in my dorm hallway, crying to my mom on the phone that I didn’t want to join any of three other houses I “preffed.” I was going to be a Pi Phi or nothing.
Looking back now I know it was divine intervention. I was not meant to be in a sorority. I used to think back and wish I had just joined another sorority house. But then I would become overwhelmed with content in knowing that I was on the right path.
It might sound dramatic, but that experience truly scarred me. The whole process of feeling judged and rejected for reasons that weren’t valid hurt. After I didn’t join a sorority, I made am intention that for the rest of college all I wanted to do was have fun and party. And that’s what I did!
I was feeling good with my food choices, but the stress of school, late night partying, and occasional homesickness fueled my eating disorder as well as other unhealthy habits. I would take friend’s adderall to stay up late studying, and I would smoke with my friends and take other drugs out at concerts, just for fun. The thing about Boulder is, as much as it was a party, also had a huge health conscious community. Many students were hyper-aware about what they were eating, and vegan diets were common. Once I connected with that part of boulder my world changed.
During my junior year I took a sociology class about animals in society. It wasn’t anything I had expected. I learned about feedlots, animal growth hormones, and how horrible the conditions of animals were being mass-produced for food. By the end of that semester I became a strict vegetarian and was back on my way to a conscious eating habit.
The summer before my senior year I worked at Pegs non-profit. I remember her talking to one of the chefs about having him take her rolodex of cooking clients. By this point she had stopped teaching cooking classes and was primarily focused on her school garden and nutrition education programs. With my new interest in food consciousness, I told her to wait until I graduated and we could do something together. That was the beginning of my career.
After I graduated college, I went with Pegs to our cabin in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. For three months we worked on her cookbook while I became certified as a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. That was when we both tried the Clean Program for our first time. I had developed a new level of clarity and balance in my life – most importantly with my eating disorder.
That following year, in 2012, my mom and I began taking hosting classes with Marki Costello at Become A Host. During class one day, we did an exercise where I was on stage with Pegs talking about our authentic selves. It was the first time I told my mom, and a room of strangers, that I had an eating disorder. I don’t know what came over me, but it was as if a huge weight was lifted of my shoulders. I remember feeling initial shame but that was quickly overpowered by a huge wave of relief.
This secret I’d been carrying with me forever no longer could control me because I made it public. I started seeing with my high school therapist again, but this time was able to be fully honest. This was the beginning of my healing. It was not something I overcame quickly. It has taken me years to manage my eating behaviors.
I have worked with many different healers, doctors, nutritionists, physiologists, intuitives, astrologers, acupuncturists, teachers, etc. who have all helped me get to where I am today. I still find it wild that the main thing that used to bring me so much pain and anguish now provides me with such joy and satisfaction.
Each year before my birthday I take time to reflect. It is so important to me to recall all that I have been through and accomplished over the past year. This year, it was brought to my attention that I have been successfully managing (not purging) my eating disorder for FIVE YEARS! And that is something I am extremely proud of.
I have lots to be grateful for. I have learned many lessons in my twenty-eight years, and I am sure I will continue to re-learn some. I acknowledge my personal growth, and so much of that is due to those in my life whom I love dearly – whether it was for a short bit or long-lasting relationship.
As one of my dear friends shared in yoga class the other night: the only thing we have control over, in any situation, is your attitude and how you choose to react. It is all a matter of your perspective. That is something Pegs has shared with me F O R E V E R! And I am pretty sure it was typed (in some form of that sentence) and taped to my bathroom mirror in high school.
Over the years my perspective on my eating disorder has shifted. It has evolved from secrecy, denial, victim, to acknowledgement, and now gratitude. Some may think I am crazy for saying I am grateful for my eating disorder, but I am. It has shaped me into who I am today.
I would never wish this journey onto anyone else, but finding gratitude in my personal struggles has helped guide me to my purpose and passion in this life. Sharing my journey to “clean eating” with seasonal cleanses has helped me gain control over my body and mind. Being able to share that transformation into my version of healthy and normal, but most importantly beneficial, eating behaviors has been huge.
Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean Program helped me detox all the crap from my college playtime. It helped me reconnect to treating my body with kindness. I began paying attention to when I was hungry versus thirsty, eating until I was full, not eating when I am emotional. I allow myself to feel my feelings and let go of them with love. All of my teachers helped me along the way, teaching me to let go of my past hurts, to forgive myself and others in my life, to find my yoga practice, to bring me to meditate and more.
I truly believe I was put on this earth to share my journey. To help others overcome their dietary struggles, and develop a balanced lifestyle that is suited just for them. Through Curry Girls Kitchen I am able to do that. Working one-on-one with clients, helping individuals and families redo their kitchen pantries, guiding hundreds of students through our seasonal cleanse cooking classes, along with providing homemade meals to my personal clients… I am living my authentic and purposeful life.
It has taken me years to get here and I am so grateful to be able to share it with all of you. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Truly, it means the world to me as I have just shared mine with you.
If you have ANY questions, comments or would love to connect further, please email me at [email protected] I would love to hear from you!