I recently met Ashley Gilday at the second annual Bandstand Benefit for the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). There, she spoke about her eating disorder recovery – how she had struggled as an adolescent and into college. Her candor was so refreshing and honest, and I felt the need to speak with her again.
Ashley is the founder of Ashley Gilday, a food and wellness site dedicated to living a balanced, conscious life. She is also expecting her first child any day now, and has expanded her site to parenting and motherhood section called “The Mommy Diaries.” Her contributors are based in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. After switching to a plant-based diet in 2011, Ashley offers recipes, reviews, and also insights from her journey back to her healthy passion for food.
Enjoy this Q&A with Ashley Gilday:
NRS: What does being in eating disorder recovery mean to you?
AG: First and foremost, it is the freedom to be who I was intended to be. I’m present, I’m available. I participate in life, I don’t avoid it. Recovery brought me piece of mind, and also total health and wellness. In order to recover, I have to surrender. First is admitting you have a problem, then surrendering to health care professionals that you’re not in control and you’re not on your own. I now have the confidence to share with the world my passion for food. Recovery has brought me the confidence to share with the world, “Hey this is me, and this is what I’m passionate about.”
NRS: What would you say to someone who doesn’t know much about eating disorders? To someone who loves someone who is struggling?
AG: It’s not about the food. There’s something else that’s deeper going on, and often the person feels a lack of control in his/her life. There is a lot of stuff you “numb out” with an eating disorder.
NRS: Tell me about your food and wellness site, Ashley Gilday.
AG: I started it a few years ago. I had a loss of innocence as far as learning where our food supply comes from. I’ve worked in food professionally for about 10 years. I’ve gone to factory farms and learned where our food is raised and produced. At first, I wasn’t bothered by it, but then I met someone who was vegan. This person started slowly educating me on things. Eventually, I watched a couple of videos and then I had an “AHA” moment and set out on a plant-based diet. It’s evolved into a wellness brand, and I have writers now. It all started out of my rage with the food industry. It’s interesting having had the eating disorder, and sharing my experiences with my eating disorder and my body image. I’m just being raw and honest, but also sharing other people’s stories of inspiration. We’re all human, we’ve all been through crap, but we’re not always honest about it.
NRS: What are your goals for Ashley Gilday?
AG: Long-term, I would like to do more speaking engagements where I share my story of recovery from the eating disorder. On my site, it’s kind of hidden, but I would love to speak motivationally. I just want to be really authentic. I know if I just keep doing the next right thing, that eventually it will work out. I really would like to contribute to a major publication, and maybe have a column some day. I really would love to be on TV. I’ve had this goal to be on the Today show since I was 15. I would love to be a guest and share something inspirational on TV.
NRS: Tell me about “The Mommy Diaries” and your plans to incorporate motherhood into Ashley Gilday. How has pregnancy affected your day-to-day body image?
AG: Before I got pregnant, and even initially when I got pregnant, I had no fear about the weight I was going to gain or the belly I was going to grow. What hit hard for me, was when I went on my pregnancy application and I put my weight in and it said “excessive.” That was really tough for me. I felt like a failure. What matters is that I have a healthy baby, but it’s been tough at times. At the end of the day, I remember that I would have it no other way. I’m so happy and I feel very blessed that I’m able to carry a baby full-term. I’m accepting my body exactly as it is. I’m trying to accept that this is a part of motherhood, and important to the health of my baby boy and myself.
Ashley Gilday has been a resource person and school presenter with ANAD since 2006. Ashley has worked in the food industry for more than 15 years and currently works full time as a Business Development Manager at Daiya Foods. In her spare time, Ashley freelance writes for various online publications and creates and edits content for her wellness blog, Ashley Gilday “Live Well. Eat Well. Pay it Forward.”
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Tags: #bodyboop, anorexia, anorexia recovery, Ashley Gilday, body boop, bulimia recovery, eating disorder, eating disorder recovery, edrecovery, food, health, motherhood, nicole rohr, nicole rohr stephani, nicole stephani, parenting, pregnancy, recovery, wellness