Sweet Soul: A Balanced Life Series

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It comes as no surprise to those who read my blog on the regular that I am now starting a Balanced Life Series. I’ve talked about it here, and then collaborated with the lovely girls of ThePartyof2 on a balanced recipe here.

Although I am a food blogger and instagrammer who likes to eat at the hot spots in Boston and beyond, I’m taking my blog further and starting to focus on balance and happiness; as well as positive body image and inspiration. Too often we are bombarded by images in the media that tell us we need to look a certain way or have a certain “thing” (whether it’s physical or costs $25,000.00) in order to be happy, and sadly it becomes “bible” to some young women, men and older people as well. Trust me, I’ve fallen victim to the brain-washing of it all and developed an eating disorder for many, many years. (read here)

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SweetLife: Anxiety | My Story

Somewhere in time, having a mental illness or even talking about mental illness, was labeled: taboo. The lack of acceptance and understanding of this issue caused those who suffered from it to suffer in silence.

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 Anxiety can be experienced by everyone: becoming nervous before a test, a first date, or at work, but having clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder is a completely different experience, often times constant and crippling.

This is my story……….

As a child I was not shy at all, I was very outspoken and always the center of attention. I was never scared to do things that seemed bigger than my tiny, little body, I was always a dreamer. The same can be said for me today, but I’m also a lot more conscious of the world around me…sometimes, too conscious.

My mom had me when she was still trying to finish up college, so for a couple of years I was sent to live with my grandmother in Florida. This is the earliest memory I have of feeling anxious. It started out as separation anxiety from my mother. I would talk to her every single night without fail  and I would sleep with an article of her clothing in order to feel closer to her. Little did I know, I was already predisposed to developing some type of mental illness since my biological father also suffers from this overlooked disease.

Fast forward a few years, I began learning more about the world. It wasn’t a fairytale place like my beloved Disney movies portrayed it to be. I experienced direct racism (my 3rd grade crush told me he couldn’t “date me” because I was black), dealt with my biological father not being as active in my life as i’d liked, and many other things that may seem insignificant to some, but was hard for me. Instead of speaking about it, I internalized all of my feelings, stashing it away into my “woe is me” box, or the pages of my poetry notebook.

College is where my anxiety became the worst it had ever been. Growing up in private, Catholic schools my whole life, I was sheltered a bit. I had the same friends throughout my childhood in Connecticut. Embarking into something new such as college, with this new found freedom, I wasn’t all too prepared for what was in store, and the different people I would encounter.

I joined a sorority, and my self-image and self-confidence went for a drastic decline. In my mind, I did not compare with the skinny, tall, gorgeous, white sorority girls I was constantly around. I had to do something to be more like them, and to silence my anxiety. This is when I developed my eating disorder which I learned during my treatment, was only a way to cope with my anxieties. As my weight drastically declined, so did my grades and self respect. I let my negative thoughts of what I thought I should be and what I wasn’t, take control.

During all of this, I kept how serious my anxiety was becoming to myself because I felt like no one would understand. I also felt silly that I was letting my insecurities and worry get the best of me.

Treatment and the support of my boyfriend, family, and some friends were what saved my life. After addressing my eating disorder, I was finally left with my anxieties and finding healthy ways to cope.

When I have overwhelming anxiety, my heart palpitates, my breathing shortens, I grind my teeth at night and clinch them during the day (to the point where I crack my enamel), and my thoughts of bad things happening to those I love, wreak havoc on my mind. How does one cope with those feelings in a healthy way?…

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I have found that eating nutrient dense foods, positive thoughts, staying active and surrounding myself with positive people are great ways to cope with my anxiety. We don’t realize that what we put into our bodies (food, music, television) and who we keep around us has a direct effect on our mental stability. I also lead a strong prayer life. Growing up in the church has always remained a big part of me, so reaching out to the big guy upstairs on a daily basis keeps me sane.

Another big way to deal with anxiety is to talk it out. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or notice signs that I’m having an anxiety attack, I call on my boyfriend, mom or a couple of close friends to help me through.

Lastly, if it becomes too much, seek help from a professional! I am a big advocate of therapy. Speaking to someone who isn’t close to you is a great way to gain a different/ unbiased perspective on life. It’s relaxing to meet weekly with someone and just talk for an hour.

I hope a little glimpse into my life with anxiety/ a mental illness is helpful in understanding it a bit more, or even dealing with your own anxieties.

If you have further questions about this topic, please leave a comment below, or email me: thesweetsceneblog@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

For more information and resources regarding mental illnesses, please visit: https://www.nami.org/ or http://www.mentalhealth.gov/

xoxo

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SweetEats: What is in your Food?

It is a very complex and controversial subject when it comes to talking about GMOs.

Do you know what GMOs are?

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The dictionary defines GMOs as: an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. Note: A high percentage of food crops, such as corn and soybeans, are genetically modified.

If you know me, you know that I am a strong believer in eating organic and GMO free foods(there are days when I do dabble in some wings, or steak and cheeses etc).

I believe that you are what you eat.

It’s one thing to not know what you’re eating and to be naive to what you are putting in your body, but isn’t that something you should be concerned about before it is too late?

After I went to treatment for my eating disorder, I took a strong stand in re-learning food, and how what I eat effects my whole being (mind, body and soul). After learning about GMOs and the difference between USDA organic items, “natural” items etc it is hard to turn around and un-know/learn it. It is hard to go to a fast food restaurant and feel 100% comfortable ordering a king sized #3 when I know the negative impact it can have on my body. (maybe not immediately, but 5 or 10 years down the road)

Not everyone in my life eats like I do, nor do they have the interest as I do in what GMOs are and how it not only negatively effects our bodies, but it also has a negative impact on the earth (not sustainable at all). In order to get a somewhat entertaining clue into what GMOs are, and what an organization such as Monsanto is doing to our food, I strongly advise that you check out these two documentaries via Netflix:

1. GMO, OMG

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2. FOOD INC

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It is true that it is hard work to ensure that what we eat (at least 95%) is USDA organic and GMO free etc, but isn’t your health important?

Isn’t the health of our children, or future children sacred? Isn’t it important that in 50 years our great grand children can play outside in a sustained world and not fear that the soil underneath their little feet has been contaminated with poison? Isn’t it important to be able to live as long as we can in a healthy state of mind in order to share memories with our families?

Question of the day: Have you watched these documentaries? Do you lead a GMO free lifestyle?

If you choose not to eat as GMO free as possible, please leave a comment below and let me know why. I would love to know your opinions

xoxo

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Sweet Life: Behind the Blog-Minority with a Major Disorder

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Hi Guys. This is me, Janelle.The writer behind The Sweet Scene Blog.

In my “About Me” section of my blog, it doesn’t really give you a full idea of why I actually started food blogging. So, I figured I’d write a post on why I started pursuing food blogging as a possible career and a way to inspire other girls who are going through what I went through and continue to keep under control.

About 5 years ago I developed an eating disorder, specifically bulimia nervosa. It was a scary time for me and I was way out of control. I was a full blown bulimic.

I used my disorder as a coping mechanism for a lot of other issues I didn’t want to deal with.  About 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women suffer from this disorder. That’s a big number of women and girls.

I thought I was being secretive and hiding it from everyone, but when I went from looking vibrant and full of life, with my trademark chipmunk cheeks, and full breasts, to literally a bag of bones, everyone around me knew something was up.

When I got to college and joined my sorority I suddenly was in this bigger bubble than my suburban, Catholic school girl bubble back home in Connecticut. I felt overwhelmed.

I didn’t like the fact that not only did I stand out because I was a minority amongst my mostly all-white circle (which I’m not new to, most of my friends and school mates back home are white) but I was also curvier and (in my eyes) a whale compared to the other girls! It’s sad to say, but I felt uglier as well.

Now,in hindsight, I see that my thinking was all wrong, and toxic, but I truly believed I wasn’t good enough. So I took matters into my own hands; I controlled everything I ate and what I allowed myself to keep down and digest…which was nothing.

I began to lose weight and began to get more “attention”. When people would say “wow Janelle, you look so skinny” whether it was out of concern on their part, for me, it was validation that I’m doing it right. Justification to keep going with my disorder.

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The 4 years I lived in my own shell filled with binging and purging and partying, I wasn’t my normal self, I wasn’t truly happy. I began to push away a lot of my close friends and my parents. All I cared about was losing more weight (mind you, at my lowest, I was under 100 pounds and size 00 was too big) and partying.

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It took graduating, and starting a relationship with my boyfriend (who I am still currently dating) for me to snap out of it.

One night, I confessed everything to him. He was there for me 1000% and convinced me to tell my mother my secret.

I wrote my mom a letter telling her everything and from there it was mission: GET BETTER.

I went to a treatment facility in Greenwich, CT called Renfrew. I went through 3 months of intensive out patient therapy. I met with top notch professionals to help me sort through everything and find ways to cope with life in a healthy way; and through the process, I found out that I have high anxiety disorder.

I began to really love myself from the inside and out. I reached out to all those I hurt while I was going through my “rough time” and rekindled friendships that I smashed to pieces during that 4 year period. I began to feel alive, I felt like Janelle again. It was all due to me wanting to accept help and to the support from my family, boyfriend and friends.

I got down to the fundametals and educated myself on the different types of food and the benefits they have on our bodies. I truly have a great relationship with food now.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when my anxiety gets really bad, or I stare a little too long in the mirror and begin to get those ED (eating disorder) voices in my head, and begin to “body check” (scanning your body and pointing out problem areas or checking for visible bones).

Instead of “using symptoms” (binging and purging), as we call it in treatment, I now know ways to properly cope with those emotions.

Just like any addiction (because an eating disorder is an addiction) you ALWAYS have it. It doesn’t 100% go away. You just have to make sure that it doesn’t flare up and take control again. I hope through my blog, I can inspire young girls, young adult women, even mothers (women in their 40s and 50s suffer as well) and especially minority women who are currently suffering with this horrific disorder.

It gets better. I promise.

about me

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, visit this helpful website.

You can also leave me comments, or email me directly: thesweetsceneblog@gmail.com and I will answer any questions you may have!

Stay Beautiful!!!!

xoxo

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