Eek, I am SO honored & excited to share today’s Recovery Series post. Kim did an incredible job kicking off the series last week, and I absolutely can’t wait to keep it going with all of the inspiring ladies and gentlemen I have lined up to share their recovery stories.
Recovery Series #2 // ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ►
Today we welcome the beautiful Carrie Forrest of Carrie on Living to TBB to share her incredible recovery story. Just a little bit of background: I have been following Carrie’s blog for years, and I was originally drawn to it because we had a very large something in common… we were both vegan. When I came out about no longer being vegan in June, I quickly found out that Carrie had done the same, a mere 10 days before me.
Can you believe that?
We experienced a similar backlash from many of our vegan friends and the community as a whole. I must say, Carrie is a LOT more mature & pragmatic about the whole situation than I am, as you will see in her interview. We stuck to discussing her eating disorder, which is interesting and helpful enough as it is!
And that is just another wonderful thing about her — she inspires me to leave my hurt & anger about the backlash from the vegan community in the past in order to flourish & move forward.
Thanks, Carrie, for being amazing.
Carrie Forrest // Carrie On Living // Q&A ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ►
Q: Name, age, current location.
A: Carrie Forrest, 39 years old, Central Coast, California.
Q: How old were you when you started developing your disordered eating patterns? Was there something going on in your life that triggered it for you?
A: My first memory of disordered eating was when I was about 10 or 11 and my parents went through a bankruptcy. We lost our house and I ended up living with an aunt and uncle for about a year while my parents tried to figure things out. Gorging on candy while hiding out in my room was how I found safety.
Q: Your story is especially dear to my heart, because you and I both began to seek professional help for our eating disorders around the same time; what was your recent trigger for disordered eating habits?
A: My recurrence with disordered eating was triggered by my diagnosis with thyroid cancer in October of 2012 when I became obsessed with only eating foods that I thought would prevent the cancer from spreading.
After surgery to remove my thyroid and the tumor, I continued the strictness with my food intake, plus over-exercising to maintain my weight loss. It didn’t take long for my body to rebel from the physical and emotional trauma, and I ultimately developed even more health problems including insomnia, fatigue, and the temporary loss of my menstrual cycle.
Q: I know you suffered from a binge and restrict cycle (so vicious, I’ve totally been there), do you think veganism played a role in feeling any sort of deprivation?
A: Following a vegan diet didn’t feel depriving until I got cancer and my eating disorder came back. That said, my therapist and my doctors supported my recent decision to adopt a more inclusive diet as part of my recovery and overall health.
Q: How do you find a balance on your blog, Carrie on Living, to ensure that blogging about your eats and workouts don’t trigger old habits? Do you think that being so open on the blog has helped your recovery, and if so, how?
A: It’s helped me enormously to write about my struggles on my blog, mainly so I haven’t feel so alone. One of the breakthroughs in my recovery came as a result of a suggestion from a reader about the book Intuitive Eating. That said, I’m a lot more aware of what I write on this topic and I no longer use my blog to motivate myself to lose weight.
Q: On the subject of balance… how do you maintain balance in your life when you have a history of extremes?
A: I sought help from a professional therapist who helped me figure out how to recognize and manage my emotions, instead of resorting to binging or restriction. My healing has come from embracing my imperfections, forgiving myself for my mistakes, and, most of all, being kind to myself. That said, it’s something I have to work on every single day. Making sure I get enough rest and down time is a key part of keeping in balance.
Q: Can you share with us a few of your “fear foods” from your ED, and tips for overcoming those?
A: Sugar is still a fear food, especially chocolate. When I was first recovering, I used the technique of no restriction whatsoever, and that scared the crap out of me. I’m grateful that I’m in the place now where I can have something sweet without necessarily going overboard with it. Knowing it’s okay to eat what I want and when I want has given me a huge sense of freedom.
Q: Favorite quote:
A: When I first wrote about being in recovery from an eating disorder, I found solace in this quote from Walt Whitman: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” I’ve also suffered from depression and anxiety in the past, and just thinking about being in the sun gives me comfort.
Q: You have also suffered through thyroid cancer, and a line from your blog that particularly struck me was, “Sometimes the disordered eating habits are harder than having cancer.” Can you elaborate here? I know how hard it is to mentally unwind from an eating disorder. I am so curious to hear more.
A: I was lucky in the sense that my thyroid cancer was caught early and treated successfully, so, in that sense, it was dealt with and I’ve been able to move on with my life. My experience with an eating disorder has been that it’s harder to manage because the patterns were set so early in my life.
Q: What is your take on restrictive diets like veganism, paleo, raw vegan, gluten-free, etc. and the growing correlation between those and disordered eating habits?
A: I’m not up on the scientific research on that connection, but I know from my own experience that eating patterns that eliminate food groups have been alluring to me. That said, there are proven health benefits from certain diets, though, so it is challenging to find that balance.
Q: Let’s get some positivity going here.. tell us about a day in the life of Carrie NOW that you have found your health. What do you love to do?!
A: It’s funny that you ask that because I spent a lot of my life denying myself the freedom to do what I love, always feeling guilty that I wasn’t worth it. Now, I make time to do stuff like going to the beach, spending time with friends, talking on the phone, reading books, watching movies, etc., because I believe I am worth it.
A typical day in the life includes cooking for my husband and me, shopping for locally-grown ingredients at farmers’ markets, doing something active like a walk at the beach or a relaxing yoga session, plus spending time working on my blog and testing recipes for new posts.
Q: Three things you’re most passionate about… go!
A: I’m most passionate about feeling good, connecting with like-minded folks, and sharing my enthusiasm for all things healthy and balanced.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Jordan, thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this series and I really admire you for using your platform to help others. I’d just like to add that if anyone reading this is suffering from an eating disorder or any type of mental disease, please know there is no shame in asking for help. I know how easy it is to feel alone and overwhelmed, but it is possible to get better.
Carrie Forrest, MBA/MPH, is the author of the blog, Carrie on Living (formerly Carrie on Vegan). When she’s not washing another batch of kale for a green smoothie, Carrie can be found looking at food porn on Instagram or attempting to not hurt herself on the yoga mat.