Let’s start by saying that I’ve been doing this thing for a LONG TIME. I started my Instagram account, @restoring_radiance, almost eight years ago. So much has changed since then. I was in college, going through an eating disorder, and dreaming about having a normal relationship with food one day. Here’s my story and how my life has changed because of food.
My Journey with Food
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved food, being in the kitchen, etc. When I went to college, food became more of an enemy than a friend. I was struggling with body image and trying to be “skinny” like other girls. Prettier. Smarter. You know what I mean. So I avoided food like the plague and instead became OBSESSED with “healthy” eating, which now is a term called “orthorexia”. I was so obsessed with healthy eating that it was unhealthy. It ruled me. I wouldn’t go out to eat with friends and wanted to stay in my dorm room and eat my food by myself.
At various times, I was vegan, dairy-, gluten- and soy- free, and then basically lived on nuts and green smoothies. I did get “skinny” and lose 40 pounds at one point (my body has been lots of different sizes). Even though my body was smaller, I was even more depressed and insecure than ever before because I still didn’t measure up to other girls. Comparison truly is the thief of joy.
I lost sight of everything I loved: being around the table and enjoying food with people I loved, cooking and baking with my mom or even at all, and going out and trying fun food at restaurants and spending time with my new college friends. I was so depressed that I started binge eating because I didn’t know a better way to deal with it. There were many days I didn’t want to talk to anyone and just wanted to hide.
So many things were out of control in my life and I was going through a lot with other relationships so I controlled the one thing I knew. Food. It became my best friend in times of desperation, but left me with so much guilt and shame after binging and quickly became my worst enemy. I’d go through weeks of juice cleanses and then binging and it was such a vicious cycle. My goal was to eat as little as possible everyday which then backfired on me, because my body desperately needed nourishment. It was basically screaming at me, yet I ignored it.
The Light Ahead
A couple years later, out of desperation and knowing something needed to change, I started an Instagram account. It was at the beginning when Instagram was truly instant and just a picture in that moment. I shared when I worked out or what I ate for breakfast. It was my own personal food and exercise journal as a way to track everything in hopes to have it “inspire me” to get find peace with food. Mind you, it was a private account because I didn’t want anyone close to me to know I liked food or what I was doing. Other girls were doing the same thing and I started really connecting with them.
One day I accidentally made it public when I was messing with the settings and it was the time when Facebook notified you that your friend “Alexis Phillips (at the time) joined Instagram as ‘restoring_radiance'”, which was actually my worst nightmare. But who knew it would have turned into what it is today? Or that Instagram would become what it is now.
So that’s the back story of it all. Where I came from versus what you see now. The name came at a time of a lot of struggle, pain, hurt. But I wanted to “restore my radiance,” and find a place of normalcy. I longed to sit around a table and enjoy a meal and conversation without obsessing. I wanted Jesus’ light to radiate through me. Because light always overcomes darkness. I desperately wanted to be restored and healed from my eating disorder.
I also want to add in here that I’m not an ED counselor and unfortunately am not certified to give advice. I’m sharing my experience in hopes that I can connect with someone out there who may need help. But I pray that if you’re dealing with similar things to seek professional help. Talk to someone. Bring the darkness into the light. It’s a part of the healing. I fully believe and stand by that – if I can be healed, I believe anyone can. Also, I wrote a post back in 2017 (woah) about what helped me heal. You can read it here if you’re interested.
So long story short (kind of), Restoring Radiance was all about my journey to that. Little did I know, there is no destination or end point. It’s all a part of the story and the journey. You never fully arrive. Things change in your life and you deal with other things. That’s what shapes us into who we are. It’s how we deal with them that can change the outcome. So I had to let it go a lot and I had to change my perspective and thinking.
The Journey Continues
Years later, and I can tell you I’m fully healed from my binge eating disorder. I don’t even remember the last time I binged. I don’t even think about that anymore. There was a time that I would only make it 1-3 days without a binge. Only by God’s grace have I made it here. Does that mean that I’m perfect and I always eat the right amount, etc? Of course not. I still have days I eat too much or too little, deal with body issues, or overthink food. BUT the beauty in that is my mind isn’t where it used to be.
Sometimes I truly can’t even remember those days. It’s almost like some of them are a blur and that’s okay. I don’t even feel like I relate to the girl I was back then. However, if I didn’t go through that, I don’t think I’d be where I am today, and I certainly don’t think I’d have the appreciation I have for food today.
I used to lay in my bed in college and look at desserts online, dreaming of one day having a bakery. I just really love food – everything about it. The creating, the connection, the taste, the joy, the fun, the trial and error. All of it. Fast forward to now, and do you see why I don’t feel like I relate to the name Restoring Radiance anymore? I’m still that same girl and always will be, but I feel like I’m in a different life. I’m married to my actual best friend and we have two precious little boys. I don’t think about food like I used to and honestly I don’t even have time to think about it like that anymore. Most of my days are consumed with feeding my hungry little hippos and trying to create fun and joy in the kitchen for them.
I want to raise my boys in a home where they eat mama’s chocolate chip cookies and they don’t even think to feel shame or guilt, only joy and excitement. I want them to have a balanced and normal relationship with food, to eat food together and around the table as much as we can, to bake together and cook together and to create memories. Because that’s what the kitchen is all about.
So that’s why I want to change the name of this project to Daddio’s Kitchen. With this name change, I want to invite you into our home and to create recipes that you can make and enjoy with your own family or friends, or yourself! I want you to make new memories and enjoy a warm meal or a delicious dessert with your people. I want you to embrace getting messy in your kitchen and to have fun!
Not much will be changing, but instead of just me, I want Thomas to be behind the camera too because he truly is the best cook I know! He cooks and I bake and together we create yummy recipes that are nourishing for our bodies and our hearts! Cooking and baking is for anyone and everyone. You don’t have to be good to start. Start small and just start where you are. You just have to start in order to get good!
Here’s what you can expect to see!
More recipes in general: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and OF COURSE desserts. Because life without dessert is just no fun! You can look forward to more videos and live cooking, as well as tips in the kitchen, and our favorite products and things we love to use. We’ll share with you how we feed the kids, we’ll share our hearts and passion for cooking and baking, and of course, the messy parts of life in between. So grab yourself a coffee or a glass of wine: come hang with us and let’s make some delicious food together in Daddio’s Kitchen!
COOK. EAT. REPEAT.
I’m so excited for this next chapter for you. Everything you’ve posted about your journey has helped me tremendously. We share similar stories and I, too, feel like I’m nearly fully healed. So just know that even though you’re not an expert, you’ve inspired me and made me feel like I’m not alone. So thank you for putting your story out there, even if it wasn’t on purpose at first. Hugs to you and your sweet family!
I’m so proud of you. ❤️
Thank you so so so much!!!