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TW: Mental Health, Body Image, Disordered Eating
In January of this year, I made the decision to put dieting, calorie counting, purging and everything else that came with my disordered eating/eating disorder to bed. And as a thyroid patient who sees her weight fluctuate due to the condition, that was scary.
In a society that tells us everyday that we’re somehow worth less if we don’t conform to one very specific and unrealistic body shape/weight/dress size etc. this was scary to do. But it’s almost the end of the year and I’m pleased to say that I stuck to it and have made so much progress in both my mental and physical health in the process.
Bodies come in all shapes, colours, abilities and sizes, and that’s normal and wonderful! As a thyroid patient, with health conditions that affect how my metabolism works and body looks, I understand that it can be difficult to not panic when you see your body change due to it, but everyone’s body can and will change throughout life; it’s just a part of life. It’s normal.
Dieting, overexercising and other unhealthy habits only make you more hypothyroid and place more stress on your body. Instead of focusing on ‘looking healthy’ by reaching a certain weight or size, focus on ‘feeling healthy’.
For me, this has meant being able to walk further and for longer as the year has gone on, without getting tired. Going up the stairs in my house without being out of breath. Not having brain fog or poor mental health.
Focus on feeling healthy. Aim to be able to play with your child without heavy fatigue, to get through work without brain fog and live a life uninterrupted by your thyroid.
I was slimmer two years ago due to my eating disorder but was I healthier? I was tired all the time, had sleep issues, muscle aches and pains… it didn’t reflect how I felt inside.
And remember that the BMI scale used especially here in the UK isn’t perfect. I’m classed as overweight on it but I feel like I’m an ideal weight. The weight my body likes to be and sits at when I feel healthy. Don’t focus on the amount of calories you consume, focus on the nutrients and value of the food. They have the power to do so much!
I hear from many of you who also have a history of eating disorders. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
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Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism”.