Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Healthy Healthy and Unhealthly Healthy

As someone who has seen the darker side of restriction, food obsession, weight obsession, feelings of guilt, despair...etc., etc. this post is one that I feel obligated to write. Whether or not anyone reads it, oh well.

Listen I totally get that obviously yes, there ARE foods that might not be the best thing to ingest (processed) the majority of the time, but by saying that you cannot eat bread, or ice cream, or a donut???  Um no I do not want to live in a world like that.  Even throughout the years instead of NOT eating those things, I injected guilt and associated how much exercise it would take to counteract it...OR I would just not eat for x number of meals.

I don't know which is worse to be honest...

My guilt trips are fewer and farther between the past year thankfully, but I still struggle with a bit of guilt from time to time.  I still buy some things and never open them; or I do, but it takes WEEKS sometimes before I am 'OK' with it.

I just wish the labeling of good and bad would stop.  This post is being fueled mostly by rage at some of the things I am seeing on FB and Twitter a LOT lately.  Just the other day for example, a friend on Twitter was saying that someone brought back some chocolate) and how 'well there goes my healthy eating'...um...

Wait.  What?

Look.  Unless, and this is my opinion, you plan on giving up EVERYTHING THAT IS YUMMY AND DELICIOUS in this world FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE...then what are you doing?!?!?!?

Why are you restricting?  Like I said, yeah, there are some things we shouldn't eat, but you know what?  Its OK.  Really and truly.  Every once in a while isn't going to hurt.

BTW, there are exceptions obviously as in that you cannot eat certain things because of allergies, intolerances etc.  You know foods that actually could cause REAL bodily harm.  But, and I say this now after experience, even if you are 'dieting' (which you should NOT be IMHO), having a splurge is OK too.  Really and truly.

I am not a doctor, nutritionist, therapist or anything like that obviously, but what I am is a woman who has struggled her entire life with low self esteem, body dysmorphia, disordered eating and just an overall horrible, horrible relationship with food in general.

But, and this is probably going to not go over so well, but if you are not allowing yourself something for any other reason other than you or society deems it not healthy, then you too have disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food.

Disordered eating is not just anorexia or bulimia; far from it..There is also orthoexia and its very real.

One of the things that's tricky about our culture is that orthorexia is socially acceptable and often even heralded as a great statement of self-control and doing the right thing for your health. 

So wrong.  So very very wrong.

Although orthorexia shares characteristics with anorexia, orthorexics don't always lose weight since they fixate on the quality (as opposed to quantity) of food. And they usually lack the distorted, negative self-image -- known as body dysmorphia -- that causes some people to look in the mirror and see oodles of fat when in fact they're severely underweight.  And not just severely underweight, but just not what they truly are seeing.

I could talk and talk and talk about this sort of thing, but I won't.  However I will leave you with this little quiz and if you even respond yes to one of them, well...Like I said...

  • Thinking about food and food preparation for more than three hours a day
  • Planning tomorrow’s menu today
  • Feeling virtuous about the food you eat, while not worrying much about the pleasure you get from food
  • Becoming stricter with yourself;
  • Getting a self-esteem boost from eating healthy
  • Skipping foods you once enjoyed to eat “healthy” ones
  • Feeling guilt when you don’t follow your diet
  • Experiencing distance with friends and family since your eating habits make it difficult to have meals together.

  • *********************************

    Maybe we can look at it a different way...By setting up rigid parameters to keep yourself on track with eating, it can make you become out-of-control. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? To understand, let's move away from the topic of food and consider the same scenerio with a less emotionally charged thing.
    Consider a friend who avoids flying. Maybe she is afraid, maybe she dislikes it. What is the first thing she thinks of when she wins a trip to Hawaii? "Oh, no, I can't go if I have to fly." She spends all her time thinking about the thing she has avoided. Will she have to fly, is there another way to get there, can she cancel the trip, can she get some Xanax?
    Now consider a friend who doesn't love flying, nor does she hate it. Sometimes its fun, mostly it’s neutral. She wins a trip to Hawaii. And she spends her time thinking about who she is taking with her and what beach they will be visiting.
    Who thinks about flying the most? The person who is trying to avoid it! The same thing happens with food. The more you try to avoid it, the more you think about it. Maybe not today, but eventually.
    And there are additional problems with these rigid divisions of good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, and/or legal/illegal food. When you label a food, you instantly suppress the natural flow of information coming back from the body. Your body regularly sends rich and complex messages back to you about the food you choose, and the quantity you eat. But you can’t hear it because you are caught up in mental calculations of the damage the food is doing.
    For example, 12 year old Betty Jo eats 15 homemade chocolate chip cookies then complains that her stomach hurts. Her mother may say, "Eating that many cookies is bad for you, no wonder your stomach hurts." The message: "That was a bad thing to do." Often interpreted as "I am bad for doing that." Which often results in eating more cookies to feel better.
    What if her mother said, "Yes your stomach is hurting, that's natural when you put so many cookies into it." The nonjudgmental message: "It's natural for my stomach to hurt with so many cookies." Betty Jo is affirmed, and since there was no "bad", no guilt, she is free to decide if she again wants to eat so much her stomach hurts. She probably won't.
    Moralization around foods stops the feedback process. And that same feedback process is crucial for self-awareness. And it is nonjudgmental self-awareness that will bring you self-control.
    Yes, food can have both positive and negative impact on your health. Some foods have more health benefits than others. Some can detract from health when eaten in quantity. But dividing foods into “good” and “bad” is not making American’s eat healthier.  As a matter of fact, in my opinion its what was the root of so much evil in my most definitely unhealthy relationship with food.
    Consider making all foods neutral, and begin to pay attention to your body’s feedback. Slow down and listen. Chances are you will get a subtle message when you eat “junk” food for lunch that that didn’t feel so great. You will also get the message that having some birthday cake after dinner is not such a bad thing after all!

    Someone recently said, Oh this clean eating!  Only bad part about it is when I do eat a cookie, I get sick to which my response was: Well then eat a cookie every day and you won't get sick!

    But seriously folks, I know its hard.  Oh how I know its hard.  But cut yourself some slack every once in a while.  I certainly do. 

    Not often, but moreso now than ever and its wonderful!

    1 comment:

    Becka said...

    I agree, pretty much completely, with everything you said. The restrictive diets, guilt, etc. They are all nutso to me. Yes, I know I eat too much of things sometimes, but I will never "give up" anything I really enjoy. Maybe just moderate better.