Our Disordered Eating experience and The Start of Petal
Relationships with food and body can be a complicated story, often filled with stress, restrictions, and confusion. We learned that from our experiences with disordered eating that we suffered from since our teenage years. Despite the difference in our experiences, like many sufferers, we experienced isolation, confusion, and anxiety.
My relationship with food became problematic when I just moved to a new school in a completely different country. I was only 12 and didn’t understand a single word in English. Struggling to adapt to the new environment, I also started to be very insecure about my body, so I quickly learned about ‘healthy eating’, but in the wrong sense. I started to cut out certain types of food one after another in the belief that they would make me look better.
So I first stopped consuming sugar, which eventually included fruits too, then bread, gluten, and high-fat foods (that are good for you) like nuts and olive oil. I eventually started counting calories too with the calorie-tracking apps that I am so against today. I still have a screenshot saved from one app that shows that I only ate 600 calories a day. I’m glad this has passed. This lasted for over 6 years, during which I’ve lost many happy days and potential memories with my loved ones.
My disordered eating experience has also started similarly: I’ve moved to a new city, changed schools, and was introduced to a completely new environment. However, a moment that triggered my disordered eating happened when one doctor commented on my body being “bigger” than my mother’s. It was true that I gained just a little bit of weight after I’ve moved to a new city and school, but I didn't care about it before hearing that comment. I felt ashamed and so I started extreme dieting. Inpatient for quick results, I did a mono-diet, eating three pieces of a particular product per day. As a result of such restrictions, I’ve developed a binge eating disorder. I could lose and gain a significant amount of weight in a short period, which harmed my physical and mental health. This period lasted for 8 years and for the whole time I just wished I could live as a ‘normal’ person again without obsessive thoughts around my meals.
Disordered eating had a tremendous impact on our lives. Our social lives, physical health, academics, and, most importantly, mental state were all going downhill. We felt isolated, not being able to speak to anyone about what we were going through. Any social gathering that involved food was extremely stressful for both of us, as we didn’t know what food we could eat there. It was also not easy to focus on academics and work, as our brains were constantly occupied with thoughts about food. It would have been great for us to seek professional help at the time of struggles, but we were never sure whether what we were going through was “serious enough”. As a result, here we are today - working hard on making Petal to be a ‘go-to place for those who struggle with food. After what we’ve been through, we don’t want to let other people go through similar challenges. We want people to have space, where they can find reliable resources with credible information, seek support and share success stories without coming across triggering content. Lastly, we wanted to emphasize that professional help is important and it should not be hard to find.
Hence why we created Petal App, a mobile application that will help you to navigate your way towards a happy and healthy relationship with food.