Erin Christ: Q&A With Food Influencer & Eating Disorder Advocate
Erin Christ is a food influencer and advocate for raising awareness around eating disorders. She runs the @bodybybreakfast Instagram account – you may have seen her sharing delicious Meatless Farm recipes in the past!
With over 50k followers, her mission is to educate, empower and excite people to rediscover their love for life through good food, self-love and positivity.
We sat down with her to chat about her story, advice for others battling an eating disorder and why discovering Meatless Farm is making her incorporate more plant-based foods into her diet.
How did you develop an eating disorder?
Growing up in Southern California, there was a huge emphasis on appearance and fitting the “standard of beauty” that society had created. I never fit that standard and convinced myself that if I wanted to be considered attractive, be happy, be successful and be loved then I had to be thin. I played soccer my entire life and even went on to play division I in college. One of the biggest challenges I faced while being a college athlete was maintaining a positive body image. I trained to be fast, strong and muscular in order to perform on the field, but I also wanted to be seen as attractive and feminine off the field. Trying to balance this was extremely difficult and ultimately led me to lose control. I had the desire to be the best soccer player while also looking my best; and I was willing to do whatever I could to reach that level. This resulted in me training excessively to be as fit as possible and changing my diet to reach a leaner figure, in an attempt to improve my performance level. Before I knew it, I got caught in this trap where I couldn’t stop exercising and dieting and eventually was diagnosed with exercise addiction and anorexia.
What would you eat in a typical day?
Unlike many who struggle with anorexia, I still ate pretty regularly. I always had breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. However, I was heavily restricting the amount of food I was eating, and it would not compensate with the amount of exercise and daily activity I was doing. I have a very type A personally and because of this I had to eat perfectly. My meals always consisted of “clean” and “healthy” foods. I wouldn’t go anywhere near anything that I labeled as “bad” or “unhealthy.” As time went on, I started developing many food rules that preventing me from eating so many foods. This included carbs, dairy, high-fat foods, fruits, and absolutely nothing processed because I was convinced these foods were going to make me fat and I could not let that happen.
When did you realize that you needed help?
I realized I needed help after my roommates sat me down telling me they were worried about me. They noticed I was losing weight very rapidly and were concerned about my health. This was a bit of a wakeup call that maybe I wasn’t okay but what really did it was when I was going into my senior year of college when I went to see my doctor and he told me two things. First, I was not medically cleared to play my last year of college soccer and second, if I kept going how I was going that I would have many health issues including not being able to have a family. It is my life dream to have a family and knowing that I might not be able to have that because of the damage I did to my body; broke my heart and I knew I needed to get help.
What kind of treatment did you go through?
I withdrew from classes and checked myself into an inpatient treatment facility. This type of care offered a continuum of care 24 hours a day in a hospital setting. I spent 6 weeks there going through therapy, structured eating sessions, medical care and nutrition education.
How is your recovery coming along?
It has been about 5 years since I completed my 6 weeks in treatment, and I am doing better than ever! My relationship with food and my body has improved significantly and I have found a newfound love for life! I am happier, healthier and more confident than I have ever been! I still have certain eating disorders thoughts, but they are much less frequent and not as powerful! I make a conscious effort every day to choose recovery and continue to move forward!
What advice do you have for other young women and men who are facing eating disorders?
My advice would be to remember that you are not your eating disorder. It is not easy to see yourself beyond your eating disorder and it may even be really scary. Your eating disorder has become your identity and your life. It decides your actions and behaviors and effects how you see everything around you. It makes you forget who you are, but your name is not, or will ever be, “Anorexia,” “Bulimia,” or “Eating Disorder.” You are not your diagnosis. It does not have that power over you. You are so much more than that and you are worthy of recovery and deserve to live a life full of love, happiness and joy!
What kinds of things do you like to do to stay healthy?
I think there are so many different definitions for “healthy” and it means something different to everyone. I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits all thing but it’s what makes you feel physically, mentally and socially well. I believe there is a whole mind-body-spirit connection when it comes to health and all of things must be taken care in order to live your best life. For me personally, there are a couple things I do that help me stay healthy. First, being fueling my body with the proper nutrients and adequate amounts of food. Second, I make sure to move my body enough whether that be through high-intensity exercise (Orange Theory) or more low-impact movements (walks, stretching). Third, I make sure to get enough rest through sleeping at night and also making sure my body gets enough rest to recover. Finally, I make my mental and emotional health a priority. This includes having a positive mindset, reducing my stress and surrounding myself with people who inspire and motivate me.
What made you start @bodybybreakfast?
I originally started @bodybybreakfast as a way to keep myself accountable during my eating disorder recovery. I kept it very private and didn’t want anyone knowing about it. I would share what I was eating daily, and it was kind of a creative outlet for me. I then began gaining followers and connecting with others who struggled with an eating disorder and it became this community of support. I never expected it to grow as much as it did, but I am grateful every day for the amazing community I have full of incredible, inspirational and supporting individuals. On this platform, I get to share my story, offer a helping hand to those struggling and have made lifelong friendships.
What is your favorite breakfast recipe?
It is so difficult to pick only one, but I would have to say my favorite breakfast recipe is pancakes! They are so versatile to satisfy whatever you are feeling! They can be made sweet or savory, be plain or have chocolate chips in them, drizzle them with peanut butter or slather them with syrup! I believe life really is a combination of magic and pancakes.
Do you consider yourself to be plant-based? Flexitarian?
I do not have a label on what kind of foods I eat. I don’t follow any specific diet, as long as it makes my body feel good then I am here for it! I welcome all foods into my diet because it gets rid of that feeling of guilt or shame and instead emphasizes having a healthy relationship with food and your body. Healthy eating is really about eating a balanced diet filled with a variety of nutrient-dense, real, whole foods. I eat what my body craves and what makes me feel like a Rockstar!
Do you feel like what you eat effects how you feel throughout the day/week?
Yes! My body naturally craves wholesome and real foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. When I eat those foods, I notice I have increased energy, better digestion, clearer skin and overall feel at my best. This is what majority of my diet consists of, but I also include going out to eat and sweet treats into my weeks as well. These foods don’t always make me feel the best internally and can cause bloating, gas and fatigue.
How do plant-based meat alternative fit into your life?
We all know that plant-based meat alternatives are becoming extremely popular and are definitely getting a lot of hype. Although, I am not labelled as plant-based, I am always open to trying new products and reduce my meat consumption. Meatless Farm was definitely unlike any other kind of meat alternative I have tried. I not only got the texture of meat (without actually eating it) but I also got a flavor punch as well. I also love that the products are packed with protein and fiber as well as helping the environment! I definitely didn’t miss the meat and will be incorporating more plant-based alternatives into my diet!