Think like This? You could be at risk for an Eating Disorder
- “I’m just being SUPER HEALTHY”
Beautiful display of yummy fruits and veggies right?!
Consider this metaphor: You are going to be stranded on an Island for 6 months. A boat comes by with supplies and says that you can receive a treasure chest full of pizza or a treasure chest full of lettuce for the entire 6 months. Which do you choose?
I hope you said Pizza, because it is the only way that you would survive. I hear this in session often, “I was “BAD” today. I had___X___ Food.” Or “I did so well today I ate ‘GOOD’ food like lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots.” However, isn’t it all relative? If you were in this desert island situation, lettuce would be the “BAD” choice and Pizza would be the “GOOD” choice.
Pizza has the necessary nutrients: carbs, fats, and proteins for survival. But here is the reality: When you restrict carbs, dairy, calories, fats, (“sauce/dressing on the side please” sound familiar?), or proteins, and you do this restricting/controlling action over and over, you are essentially choosing the treasure chest of lettuce. And for most people, this ideology lasts much longer than 6 months, it lasts years. So please consider the treasure chest of lettuce, and ask yourself if restricting whatever foods from your diet might actually be depleting you of necessary nutrients.
2.”OMG I hate my ____X____ (body part).”
Walking into a mall bathroom and seeing teenagers looking at their flat little tummies and trying to grab non-existent fat rolls, while saying, “Ugh I’m so fat!”Look how we are even influencing our children with our own self-hatred! It’s heart breaking. Our culture has normalized critical harsh self talk.
- “I COULD NEVER eat whatever I want to without getting fat”
Eating disorders are Anxiety Disorders. The anxious belief that “I can’t eat that without gaining weight” strips us of any joy to eat that which we desire. This is a subconscious diet mentality that triggers biohunger- eating and craving the nutrients that you are not eating or tripling up on foods because they just don’t satisfy. Instead of eating for balance or overall health, we eat for weight loss because of a deep fear. It’s an imprisoning way to feel about something that was naturally and essentially supposed to be a good thing in our lives.
- “Diets are good for me.”
Diets always seem to count calories in some way or another- all about restriction. They take away needed nutrients and your body might shrink for a while. However, eventually you will hit a low point where you will need to go into overeating to compensate for the starvation you just put yourself through- then you usually gain the weight back. This is called YO-YO dieting, and it is a lot of stress on your body.
- “If I am Hungry, I feel powerful and disciplined. If I am full, I feel gross and like a failure.”
Eating food naturally satiates us to fullness, so if we think fullness is bad, food becomes the ENEMY. Food should not be the enemy, it should be our friend, as it is necessary for survival. We don’t consider oxygen or shelter the enemy, so why do we let food make us feel like a failure. Feeling hungry should not make us feel like this: and Being full should not make us feel like this We should not run our car on empty, so we should fuel are tank, but not over-fuel it to the point of exploding! This is about listening to your body. Some days we feel hungrier. Some days we feel more full. Both are natural and normal, and it would do us a world of good to see them as such.
- “If I miss 1 workout, I will gain weight.”
As an athlete, this was something I used to struggle with a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I ate plenty. I loved to eat. Team dinners… carb loading for a tournament or race… rewarding myself with food for a really tough weekend of working out. Knowing that I worked out hard gave me what I felt like was freedom to overeat. Thus, if I didn’t workout one day, I felt like I should not allow myself this gift. While binging/overeating is never the healthy-intuitive-listening to your body response, neither is punishing your body by not eating just because you didn’t get your 10k run in. You will NOT gain weight from missing a single workout. Some days you are sick, some days you need a break to recover, and some days you just got too busy/exhausted… whatever the reason, you should listen to your body and rest.
- “Food makes me feel better.”
Ice cream after a break-up, Bacon Mac & Cheese, Brownies, donuts, and cookies, nostalgic foods from childhood… they’re soooooo delicious. A food coma may numb you out, or give us a blood sugar high that makes us feel a little better for the moment. However, the truth is that there is NO food that will resolve or fix the negative feelings we have. We have to deal with our feelings. We have to do the work.
- “If I eat something unhealthy, I might as well just give up today and start tomorrow. Or “Screw this week.” I’ll start next week.”
If you know anyone who struggles with addiction, this is a very similar mindset. This thought that “well I messed up on my plan so… Forget the plan until tomorrow” creates a last meal mentality and increases the chances of binge eating for that day. Binge eating disorder really understands this thought process. You are trying to diet or restrict, but our bodies were not made to be starved, so we naturally crave and then eat intensely, because “well It’s the last time I will eat like this until I start my diet again tomorrow.” Do this over and over = weight gain. But here’s something to think about, the food will still be there tomorrow! Now you can eat when you are naturally hungry again. The rest of you meal that you aren’t hungry for, just box it up, it will still be in the fridge tomorrow. You don’t have to scarf it down tonight. Also, why does eating healthier foods and less healthy foods have to be like a pendulum swinging back and forth? Why can’t we just eat in a more balanced lifestyle where both are allowed?
- If I under eat, I will lose weight.
Here is a harsh reality: your metabolism slows down. Also, remember when you were a teenager and your parents told you that you couldn’t do something? Didn’t it make you want to do it more? A life style of policing yourself and under-eating, usually results in a cycle of overeating and binges. Telling yourself I can’t have “X” is a mentality that precepts you to want “X” more. Thinking, I need more control and/or discipline? You can only do this for so long. Your body wasn’t meant to restrict. You body wasn’t meant to binge. It was meant to eat when hungry and stop when full. However, when we restrict our food intake throughout a day or week or month, eventually you’re body will need to overcompensate, and you will most likely engage in eating that feels out of control. Intense eating is a natural response to restriction/starvation.
- No one will ever love me at the weight I am at. No one will ever love me or stay if I gain weight. I will be alone forever.
I get it. We were made for community and connection. We should, however, feel confident that the people we are spending time with want to be loyal to us though the highs and lows of life: whether we are at our best or struggling, whether we have short hair or long hair, whether or not we wear make up, or whatever weight we are at. Do you really want the person that chooses you to be as flippant as leaving over 5 lbs? even 40lbs? And I think the best and most pertinent question is this: Can you love yourself through the ups and downs? Can you love yourself at the weight you are at? Because if you can’t love yourself, how can someone else?