Community Stories

Alana’s Story: Free From External Self-Worth

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Freedom means being unapologetically myself: body, mind, and spirit.

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⚠️Trigger Warning: eating disorders, orthorexia, weight, body dysmorphic disorder, low self-esteem, perfectionism

What are you free from?

I am free from external self-worth.

alana free from external self-worth photo

What does ‘freedom’ mean to you?

Freedom means being unapologetically myself: body, mind, and spirit. It means not feeling the pull to do and be everything for everyone.

Share a bit of your story with us:

In my 20s, I felt like I was out of control, unsure where my life was heading. So I took control of my weight and eating. It turned into a seven-year battle with orthorexia, body dysmorphic disorder, and binge-eating disorder.

My worth became completely tied to my weight and how my body looked.

I physically felt like I was going through my days walking in quicksand, and all I could think about was food.

It wasn’t until I started listening to podcasts about eating disorders and intuitive eating that I realized I had a problem and wasn’t alone or crazy.

Five months after my son was born, a few years after I had recovered, I decided to create Freedom with Food and Fitness. It is an online community that helps women heal their relationships with food, weight, and their bodies. My mission is to help women not go through what I went through.

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How would you compare your life before finding freedom from “the opinions of others” to your life after?

My self-worth isn’t dependent on how I look now. I don’t beat myself up as much and have much more self-compassion. I also have the mindset to work to heal my perfectionism.

I can dedicate brain space to things that matter significantly more than my body.

I don’t weigh myself, so that number no longer controls me.

I have more freedom to be spontaneous and have fun.

I enjoy social events without the anxiety of what to eat and how much. I feel more solid in who I am as a person and what makes me special. I also have more compassion for those in different bodies and their struggles.

What message do you have for others who can relate?

It is 100% possible to heal, no matter how long you’ve been suffering, no matter your story. We all have our reasons for being sick, but there are ways to heal the most difficult of traumas.

Surround yourself with like-minded people who have gone through recovery.

The community out here is so supportive and vulnerable with their own stories.

Share Your Story!

We can fight stigma and discover we aren’t alone by sharing our stories. Our “Free From” photo challenge is a way for you to share your story with others on social media so we can celebrate freedom together!
Learn more:

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Alana Van Der Sluys is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, author, speaker, and eating disorder survivor. She is the founder of Freedom with Food and Fitness, an online community dedicated to empowering women to heal their relationship with food and their bodies, and ditch diet culture through intuitive eating. Freedom with Food and Fitness offers a variety of resources to those ready to leave chronic dieting behind, including free resources, group coaching programs, online courses, a podcast, quizzes, and guided meditations. Alana is a contributing writer for several national publications, including the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), Elephant Journal, Recovery Warriors, The Edge Magazine, and Best Holistic Life Magazine. A lover of whisky and travel fiction in her downtime, Alana lives in New Jersey with her husband, Scott; son, Archer; and fur baby, Captain Oats.

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