I’m going to be honest about something. I’ve shied away from posting too much about eating disorders because I feel like many will read my posts and think,
“Well, I don’t have an eating disorder, this doesn’t apply to me.”
But here’s the thing- if you struggle at all with body image, obsessive food thoughts, you repeatedly use food to cope with emotions, you’ve been on and off diets, or describe yourself as a food addict or as having no control around certain foods, then you’re experiencing disordered eating and thinking, which is exactly how all eating disorders get started.
Does this mean that every woman struggling with any of the above mentioned behaviors will go on to develop an eating disorder? No.
But disordered eating and thinking can be all consuming and harmful to one’s mental and physical health, which is why have to address it.
There are many different factors that play into the development of an eating disorder, but the point I’m trying to make here is less about the separation between the two and, instead, the fact that both consist of problematic beliefs and behaviors that negatively influence and interfere with lives.
It’s important for you to understand that you don’t have to fit into the DSM’s (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders) guidelines of bulimia, binge eating disorder, or anorexia to qualify as someone who is in need help.
Every day I work with women who are consumed with food and body image. They obsesses over every bite of food, and speak negatively to themselves when they “slip” or eat something “bad,” which often results in self-sabotage eating or a binge. And buckets of shame….
Many have even said things to me such as,
“I’m so confused and scared about what to eat that sometimes I just skip meals.”
Sad thing is, these women are convinced that there’s something wrong with them or that they just need to try harder.
Some women will even tell me that they’re food addicts who can’t be trusted around sugar, when in reality, it’s often the restriction of sugar and their belief that it’s “bad” that’s driving these thoughts and feelings.
And every day these beliefs are being reinforced by friends, family, healthcare professionals, the internet, social media, and a society obsessed with body image, diets, and the latest food trends, all of which only adds fuel to the fire.
So no, you may not have a medically defined eating disorder, but by no means does that make your disordered eating and thinking less important. And if gone unaddressed, it can continue to steal precious time and energy and become a great source of stress, anxiety, depression, and begin affecting relationships and social lives.
But here’s what you need to know- going about getting rid of it the same way is only going to keep you stuck.
Continuing to restrict carbs because you binge on them when they’re around, is only going to amplify your feelings of powerlessness and the frequency of bingeing.
Believing that anything other than “clean,” organic, fresh foods is “toxic” to your body is only going to make you obsessive and cause you to stress out in situations where this type of food isn’t available.
We have to take a different approach
One that comes without rules and a list of “good” foods and “bad” foods, and instead allows ALL foods while teaching us that perhaps we turn to food in a misguided attempt to soothe ourselves, or simply because of the mental and physical deprivations we place on ourselves; not because we lack willpower or are addicted to food.
One that instills hope and allows us to trip and fall and then helps us back up to our feet without judgement or shame.
One that encourages us to take our time to explore, learn, and discover so that we can find our way back to ourselves, and begin cultivating a sense of trust in our own bodies, while learning to live life confidently on OUR terms.
And it starts with calling BS
Don’t worry about what the latest food fad is or what Whole 30, the gluten haters, and Keto followers say.
And please, unfollow anything related to these things. They’re only going to continue to mess with your head and disconnect you from yourself further.
Instead, get to know yourself and what YOU need and want.
We have to start living life on our terms. We are the experts of our bodies and we get to call the shots.
Here are some simple things to think about to get started:
When do you notice hunger and how do you respond to it? Do you ignore it? Grab a salad because it’s healthy and low carb, even though you hate them? What about asking yourself next time what you wanted to eat, and see what comes up.
If you’re confronted with a belief about food, challenge it. For example,
“Do I really believe sugar in all amounts is bad for me? Is it realistic and necessary to never allow myself to have any? How is this belief serving me and is it sustainable”?
(Spoiler: restriction drives EATING)
Do you hate to run but do it because you should? How would it feel to ask yourself,
“How would I like to move my body today? What would be fun and enjoyable and something I’d look forward to doing.”
Commit to this year to try something different, to try a new approach that can bring peace to your life and start to heal the disordered behaviors that have been only stealing from you.
And if you have ANY questions, throw em at me. I’d love to be of any help I can. Leave a comment or drop me a line here, we can even schedule some time on the phone to talk through things.