Updated: Nov 12, 2020
By Carrie Mitchum
The path to wellness is most often a winding one with myriad influences along the way. I was born in Los Angeles in 1965 and my parents were poster children for the “Hippie” movement. We lived in Topanga, wore flowers in our hair, and ate granola. In addition to the granola, we ate brown bread, a lot of vegetables, unsweetened peanut butter, homemade jam… “Hippie Food” was actually “Health Food”. When we moved to Spain in the early ‘70’s all of our food came from little shops… We went to the butcher for fresh meat, to the “Vaqueria” for milk, to a small grocer for staples, to a produce stand for vegetables. Fast food didn’t exist, with the exception of the churro man who would sell his divine cinnamon and sugar-coated delights from his bicycle cart, we ate farm to table, unprocessed, whole-food, local fare. We returned to the United States about the time I hit puberty and the combination of American “Junk Food” and hormones caused me to begin to get curves, which I immediately condemned as “FAT”. Somehow I had already developed the mind set that “fat” people had no value and I was fat. For my 12th birthday I substituted watermelon for birthday cake and years of crazy dieting, anorexia, bulimia, and prescription diet pills began. My first career as an actress was horrible for my self-esteem. I selected a career that emphasized my looks and my obsession with being thin became dangerous. I became dependent on prescription diet pills, taking several each day and then drinking and taking a sleeping pill at night to “come down”. I tried rehab but my eating disorder wasn’t addressed so my first stop on my way home from Palm Springs was at Dr. Gem’s in Beverly Hills for another baggie of pills. This continued until I became pregnant with my son when I was 27. The day I found out I was pregnant I stopped putting anything harmful into my body, even caffeine and diet soda. I ate everything in sight, telling myself it was ok, I was “eating for two”. By the time I gave birth to my nine and a half pound baby I weighed almost 200 lbs. After I stopped nursing, the yo-yo dieting started again… It seemed the only time I could “be healthy” was when I was pregnant… I just couldn’t be healthy for myself. By the time I quit acting and became a chef, I was basing my eating choices on the well being of others… I think I was the only vegan to ever graduate Le Cordon Bleu. It wasn’t meat and dairy that repulsed me… It was factory farming and the suffering of the animals. I became obsessed with nutrition along with the environmental impact of food. In addition to the nutrition classes offered in school, I watched documentaries like “Forks Over Knives” and “Super-Size Me” while I searched the internet for information. I tracked down every piece of data I could find on the pros and cons of everything I put in my body… But I still wasn’t able to manage my weight!!! I had the knowledge, I knew how to apply it… And I still could not lose the extra forty pounds I’ve been carrying around since the birth of my youngest child. What was I missing??? It wasn’t until my friend and hypnotherapist Bianca and I started talking that I realized that while I had addressed the physical aspect of the food I ate, I had not considered the emotional and spiritual features. I had not put together the attachment I had to my weight with what I ate. After two physically abusive relationships, during which I was emotionally and spiritually crushed, I wore my weight as a shield! In addition, my broken self was comforted by food… It became my replacement for human love and contact in many ways. In my mind, I had A LOT more than weight to lose if I actually lost weight! So, now, in addition to feeding my body with nourishing whole foods, I’m taking the steps to feed my mind and soul as well. Nothing happens over night, but I am on the path to actual and true wellness. My hope is that by sharing my experience it will inspire others to reevaluate what they’ve thought of as “healthy” and begin to include sustenance for the mind and soul in their daily regime!