I would sing in front of a theatre full of people, bungee jump, audition in front of a panel, but put a plate with fish and chips in front of me and I will be left quaking, unable to face the meal. It makes me angry to think about it, I do not like to appear weak, but that is the reality of my life and recently, I've been realising more and more how it is becoming easier to live with an eating disorder in today's society. It is no longer totally abnormal to ask a waiter whether oil is used whilst cooking my meal, to refuse a coffee if they don't have skimmed milk, to live off a no carb diet. I hear people make statements that leave me to reply "you sound like me". Friends saying "oh god, I really can't eat that", telling me they're cutting out dairy, carbs, gluten. Asking me about my diet. The last one is the worst. Although I am in a far better place than I was (I mean, I actually eat, so that's a plus), I wouldn't recommend my diet to others. It's a work in progress, I hope that one day I will be able to eat without omitting certain foods and sticking only to my safe foods. All over Instagram, Twitter, magazines and newspapers we are bombarded by images of 'healthy' meals, people discussing their fasts, images of rippling abs and tight, toned asses. I don't omit myself from the craze. I spam Instagram with photos of myself in gym gear and #fitfam hashtags. I am proud of my stronger body, but I also recognise that I do not lead a totally balanced life. My relationship to food, my body and exercise is still disordered and is disconcertingly entangled with my stress levels, moods and feelings of self worth. I wonder, is this the same for the thousands who make similar posts? They do not all receive the support I do, they do not see a weekly therapist and have their weight monitored. I recognise that not all of them need to, but I do think that when missing a day at the gym leads to you being engulfed with guilt, or you count calories obsessively and feel appalled by the idea of eating certain things, this is not a 'healthy lifestyle'. This is disordered.
I recently read about someone who was struggling with binges on a certain food group being advised to simply cut the group out entirely for a week. Now, I do not claim to be an expert, but given the amount of dietetic work I've done, plus the nutritional research and therapy I've had, I know enough to be aware that if someone is struggling with bingeing on something it is in general because their body is crying out for something it is missing. Cutting it out won't help rectify this issue, in fact, making it even more of a 'banned food' is likely to make the issue worse. I was really upset to read the advice that was being preached, having had the opposite information drilled into me by dieticians, doctors and other medical professionals. Half of me wanted to rip into the person posting and tell them to go to someone medically certified for such advice. I could be wrong in my assertions, but I didn't think they'd be told the same. Instead, I clicked 'unfollow'. It saddened me that people would post such things without thinking of the consequences and effect their words could have. You have thousands of people reading your words, you are in a position of responsibility. I try hard to remind those who get an insight into my life, whether it be via social media or face to face, that my lifestyle is a work in progress. I'm working towards balance. I try not to preach. Lifting weights works for me and is beneficial, for others it may not. My therapist and I were discussing how easy it is for me these days to just appear to be one of the many 'super healthy' people running around. Holy shit, that's terrifying. If people's goal 'healthy' lifestyles are similar to that of someone working to recover from severe anorexia, then something is rotten (in the state of Denmark 😂). Don't get me wrong, I love healthy eating and believe in the power of exercise, but I also believe and have great admiration for those who keep it balanced. Who recognise that the slice of cake won't mean the end of the world. Who don't deny themselves a much needed rest. I always joke to my friends that I'd LOVE to be the girl who goes out on a date and orders a massive steak (I don't actually like steak, but shhh), I've been told theirs nothing sexier. I've pushed myself, it's true. I've eaten 8 course meals. I drink again, but I've noticed my ordering a salad with dressing on the side is once again becoming a trait people admire. I'm not saying the whole world is becoming anorexic, but I am urging people to be mindful of their relationships to food, exercise and their bodies. Eating disorders are not caused by society alone (read previous posts for my ramblings on the topic), but society does play a part. My fear is that we are putting extreme diets under the caption "healthy eating". We are listing "bad foods and good foods" in a way that is disordered. We are starting to guilt trip ourselves for a day of rest. We are forgetting to listen to our bodies. Work out, eat healthily and post about it on Instagram, I will, but also try and keep some balance. Be aware that social media is not always totally honest and that those posting are not always totally in the know. Workout because you love your body, not because you hate it. If you feel you are going to the gym because you feel you have to, not because you actually want to, try a new kind of workout or talk to someone about your guilt. I genuinely love the exercise I do these days, they're hard, but I don't drag myself there or see it as a punishment. I do struggle with feelings of guilt when I don't go though, and this is something I need to work on. Eat healthily for you and in a balanced manner. Don't choose the fad diets and cut out entire food groups without proper medical advice. And guys, don't emulate the lifestyle of someone recovering from anorexia, I will be in a good enough place one day to say "hell yeah, I'm balanced and brilliant", but if your intake and thoughts are similar to mine, there's something not right! I can tell you that now. Orthorexia is becoming a more and more prevalent issue in society and I think we need to be aware of it. The rabbit hole of crazy is not a fun place to fall. Be healthy, be happy. Don't be overtaken. Oh, and hug more. Do you know how many great chemicals hugging releases?! My goal: a life filled with balance and spooning. The dream.