How food blogger Kruti Shah of Buena Park used Instagram to help recover from an eating disorder

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Kruti Shah of Buena Park used Instagram to help recover from an eating disorder. Photo by John Cizmas

At 14, I looked in the mirror and felt like I wasn’t worthy.

There was so much change happening—becoming a freshman in high school, new people, new organizations. Like every teenager, I guess I wanted to look a certain way.

That’s when I started starving myself. Anorexia. It had nothing to do with sports or a boyfriend or ethnicity. My parents, here from India for 30-plus years, are very loving and supportive. They are not the stereotypical Indian parents—never pushed me to be a doctor or take a certain career path. No expectations about how I should look, either.

So I can’t really figure out how this started. I was never heavy—just normal. I had done ballet as a kid, but wasn’t an athlete. I was on the school newspaper.

A few people at school noticed I was thin, but I was oblivious. My close friends didn’t say much, and no one pushed me to get help.

Finally, at 17, I went to an annual checkup. My doctor noticed I was very underweight and very anemic. That was my wake-up call.

Gradually, I started to feed my body and gain weight and be healthy. But then I went to college at UC Irvine and developed a different eating disorder: binge eating. Bulimia.

With the encouragement of my family, I began seeing a therapist. The bulimia was significantly reduced. 

Another thing that helped was sharing. Two years ago, I started a blog about food. It now has over 43,000 followers on Instagram (@cultivatewithkruti).

Spending Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea + a good book, but first, I wanted to share something. . Triggers. Just last week I found myself triggered. I’ve learned to manage them, and I’m working on healing them—it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and lots of work. . How I manage them? 1. Find someone you can trust. I always message my brother and therapist, two people I know can hold me up when I’m crumbling inside. 2. Journal. Write down how you’re feeling. Last week I was scared. I was worried I wasn’t going to be a good yoga instructor. 3. Get moving. This ones hard for me. I like to sit in one spot, but now I make an effort to get outside and walk. 4. Surround yourself with others. Another tough one for me, but I make sure to be in the presence of others, it’s a healthy distraction for me, and gets me away from acting out old behaviors (ie. restricting or binging on food) . Anyways, I wanted to share, because IG does a great job of highlighting the excitement & happiness, and each of us struggle from time to time. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Have a beautiful Sunday friends!! 🤗❤️ #cwk

A post shared by kruti shah (@cultivatewithkruti) on

A few years before, I stumbled upon a recipe blog called “Oh She Glows” by Angela Liddon. She had gone through a similar experience.

Soon, I found that creating recipes in the kitchen was a fun outlet for me—it helped me get away from myself. I was raised a vegetarian. I’d never taken a cooking class, but I enjoyed playing around with different textures and colors.

My favorite food is toast with toppings. Whatever bread I’m craving that day, I can top with avocados, almond butter, or berries.

In October 2015, my brother encouraged me to post the creations on social media. I thought that was crazy. But I just went with it and got great feedback. 

It evolved into this platform to inspire people to be more mindful of the way they are eating and encourage them to find a balance with food so they don’t have to restrict or binge. It has really brought me to a community where I can be myself.

The blog aligns with my philosophy on health and wellness. One message I give to people with eating disorders is that they are allowed to ask for help. It’s easy to feel so alone when you are struggling with an eating disorder, but you don’t have to be. So many people out there will help you.   

I think of my eating disorder in a positive light now. I’m trying to get into graduate school for occupational therapy. I’m interested in how things like yoga and nutrition can help improve people’s lifestyles and give them more value and purpose. In my applications, I openly talk about my past. It helped make me who I am.

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