Let's talk about food, though, shall we? Something's been on my mind lately, which was reiterated after seeing someone tweet this today:
How ridiculous is that? I've heard that phrase before, but are we really promoting this on social media?
That statement, to me, is the epitome of disordered eating. A lot of people probably think of eating disorders when I say that, but disordered eating is actually something that a lot of people experience without getting the point of an eating disorder.
***Disclaimer: If you've had or currently have an eating disorder or any sort of disordered eating, this post may bring up some issues that are difficult for you. Please do not read on if you think this topic will be harmful to you in any way.***
Think about if you have ever done one of these things (or know someone who does):
- overexercise as a result of eating more calories than you should have the day before? (My friend Catherine just wrote a post about her thoughts on "atonement workouts")
- have an intense fear of gaining 5 pounds?
- cut out an entire category of food from your diet?
- obsess over food (thinking about it all the time, counting calories all the time, etc.)?
- consistently overeat when you aren't hungry?
- lie about how much you eat/have eaten?
- have very strict food rules for yourself?
Now, please don't think that I'm putting you down. That is not my intent by any means. In fact, I'll be quite honest with you in saying that I think I'm going through a period of slightly disordered eating.
In fact, according to a SELF magazine poll, 6 out of 10 women are disordered eaters.
I think it's really easy in our society to fall in to disordered eating habits. We are bombarded with images of skinny woman who look almost "perfect" and talk about eating nothing but kale (I'm exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean). We hear characters in movies and TV shows talking about how bad they've been for eating a sweet treat. We also hear these characters talking about paying for their calories in time at the gym.
What part of that says healthy to you?
Unfortunately, I think another bad influence on us can be the healthy living blog community, as ironic as that sounds. We again read blogs posted by people who are physically fit and look great, and they seem to only be eating super-fancy crazy-healthy stuff! That can really make the rest of us feel like what we're eating isn't good enough, which can cause us to obsess over what we're eating, counting calories, etc.
Quite honestly, I get embarrassed to publish some of the things I eat because I don't perceive them as "100% healthy" or "having too many calories to be posted on a blog that's supposed to be about healthy living." I've left out how many cookies or how many handfuls of SweetTarts I've ACTUALLY eaten on some of my WIAW posts. I'm also guilty of bored eating, as well as eating uncontrollably when I eat something that I like.
The reason I bring all this up is to say: there's a difference between making healthy choices when eating versus obsessing over diets, counting calories, and food. When food becomes all you can think about, or when your relationship with food negatively impacts aspects of your life, you're heading down a slippery slope. Disordered eating can take more serious turns into eating disorders, so if you are experiencing any symptoms of disordered eating and can't seem to get a handle on them, please please please talk to someone about it and get help.
Try to eat when you're hungry. Eat what you are thinking you want to have, then stop when you are satisfied. You should try to eat the "right" foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains), but feel free to enjoy more indulgent foods when you want them. Once you can establish healthy eating habits, your body will tell you what it needs.
As for me, I've realized lately that I need to think of food more as fuel for my body rather than "a treat" or "something to do." This summer, I've had to skip workouts or training runs because I ate way too much because I was bored, or because I didn't eat enough of the "good stuff" my body needed to function properly. I'm making more of an effort to eat a balanced diet and to keep healthy snacks that I enjoy on-hand for when between-meal tummy rumbles.
I am by no means an expert on this topic, so please use the following resources for additional reading and education on the topic:
- Disordered Eating Q&A from BYU's Women's Services and Resources
- My Battle with Disordered Eating and How I Got Over It by Nia Shanks
- A story from the Today show about disordered eating: The disorder next door