Gina Parillo, 28, is known on Instagram as @omggiina, where she shares authentic and personality filled content about her eating disorder recovery journey. Her realness and insight have created a community of over 12,000 followers. I’ve been following Parillo for quite some time and reached out to her for a Q&A about all things recovery, Instagram, and the sense of community online.
P.S. A few fun facts about Parillo before the formal Q&A….she loves Justin Bieber (SAME), she has lived in 14 US states, and she could spend all day reading and/or eating pasta.
What inspired you to start your Instagram? How has your account impacted your own recovery?
Okay so when I got on Instagram, I was just hoping to basically have an online journal to kinda keep me accountable? And I hoped to meet people on the same path as me so we could (I don’t want to say compare, but) compare stories. And just feel not so isolated. I essentially wanted to be able to say, Hi I’m super struggling with X right now! And to have someone say, Hey me too!! We got this! But when I started getting the same messages with the same questions over and over, I started kinda answering them in posts! Now it’s a combination of where I’m at and what I’ve been asked a handful of times recently. The community has been SO HELPFUL to my recovery. In ways I never ever could have anticipated. Things that I was so ashamed of, for example eating more then my partner was a big one, but so many people had a similar fear, and seeing people keep their eyes on their own plate – dang it was just so helpful! For me, it really feels like being IMMERSED in recovery. I’m constantly motivated and inspired, and I don’t know if I would be so confident in my own recovery without that.
Was going public with your ED a hard decision for you? What advice do you have for people not sure if they want to be open about their experience?
Gosh. Such a good question. I never really had a choice to be public about my ED! I never announced it, but I was openly very disordered with food – I stopped even pretending. I was constantly being asked, not surprisingly in high school but even in professional work settings throughout my 20s (which I hope goes without saying is WILDLY inappropriate). But. You do not need to tell anyone if you don’t want to. You don’t owe a single person an explanation!!! That being said, it’s been helpful for me to be honest with some friends and family because then they can better support me. I’ve learned to ask for what I need, and my husband has become SO GREAT at changing the subject and shutting down diet talk. He’s the first one to say that he could go for a second breakfast, or suggest we do something more interesting when someone else wants to work out on vacation.
Do people often comment/DM you with their personal stories and struggles? If so, how does this make you feel?
YES. Omg I could not have anticipated that. I have been so touched by every single message I get, my heart breaks for every single person. It has made me so much MORE solid in my recovery though. Every time I hear, Ah sorry I don’t want to trigger you…it doesn’t trigger me but instead it makes me feel like omg I SO don’t want to be back there – I did the right thing. It is hard though, because I imagine that a lot of the people sending messages are looking for a way AROUND the hard parts of recovery. Like the answer to how to sit with feeling full or what to do when you overate or how to deal with gaining weight is all the same shitty answer – you sit with it. You can be scared and you can cry and you can every single day want to run back to the ED, but ultimately you sit with it. The only way out is through.
What does “all in” recovery mean to you and how does it affect your feed and what you share with your followers?
Hahaaaa ugh I kinda hate “all in” recovery as a phrase, because it’s just essentially normal eating and this term feels super trendy now. All it is to me is unrestricted eating! Any food, in any quantity, at any time without judgement. I learned about this from The Fuck It Diet! but I don’t think its for everyone. I know people who say they’re eating this way, and still showcase their restriction. Whether it be through moderation or a version of orthorexia or whatever, ‘all in’ is not the same as intuitive eating as a diet. It is repairing your relationship with food. I don’t think ‘all in’ has impacted anything that I put on IG! I mean, I showed more food at the beginning of my journey, but I mostly don’t unless I made something I’m proud of, or it’s pasta :). I still struggle with comparisons, and honestly I don’t think ever seeing someones what I eat in a day is helpful.
A lot of your posts include pictures of bloating and you’ve talked about it on several occasions. I know I really appreciate these- what inspired you to start sharing those?
Girl. I think bloating is kinda what prompted my ED. It probably wasn’t as dramatic then, but I hated that I would bloat in high school. It’s what led me to first start playing around with restriction! And ironically, that restriction and subsequent ED has made my bloating seventeen bajillion times worse. I post it because it’s something that would always send me runnnnning back to the ED. Any time I would consider recovering, that bloat would just send me packing!! I knew that I would have to consciously accept it every day if I wanted to do this thing – and so posting it publicly and acknowledging that my world keeps turning has been helpful.
What is something you wish people knew about eating disorders and/or recovery?
ONE THING? I have so many one things I want to say!!! Okay okay one thing. I guess one of the most harmful things is how society links food and our bodies to morality. If you think that you’re going to be ‘bad today’ with your breakfast choices, how do you think that makes the rest of us feel who eat that daily?? If you think you’re going to ‘get back on track’ tomorrow after our night spent over snacks, it hurts me to hear that something I’m enjoying feels like a mistake to you. When a food that is fat free has the label “guilt free’……I mean c’mon. Why does one ice cream literally have the word ‘halo’ in the title? Food is not good or bad. Your body is not good or bad. It just IS.
I hope you all enjoyed hearing from Gina as much as I did. Remember to check out her Instagram- talk to you soon, blog!
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.
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