I thought that the whole world was messed up with food, but I was the responsible, good, healthy one.
I never used to think my eating or weight fixation was that weird... I just thought I was a health nut. I just thought I liked “good” foods. I thought I was responsible. I thought it was my burden to bear for having imbalanced hormones. I thought that the whole world was messed up with food, but I was the responsible, good, healthy one.
Time and time again, I work with women who have spent years thinking that what they were doing with food was normal(ish). I mean, yeah, they knew they cared a lot about what they put in their mouths. But they were the healthy ones. They were the ones who knew about nutrition. The general consensus always was: “I just care more about my health and the quality of my foods than other people, but everyone should.”
While we obsessed over food, we were willing to ignore how stressed we’d become when we had to eat out at restaurants, how we judged ourselves for not being good enough or for eating too much, how we panicked when we ate a bad ingredient. We didn’t realize how stifling it was to live our life obsessed with weight. We didn’t know there was a world where we didn’t have to judge ourselves by our pants size.
Because all this weight and food drama is so common, we thought it was normal. And we thought it was healthy.
But it’s not. It’s actively disordered and miserable.
Eating should not be stressful. Food should not be feared. And weight should have no bearing on how successful or worthy you feel. Your feelings about your weight don’t need to ruin your day.
So what does this mean?
It means that tons of women out there are experiencing disordered eating disguised as healthy eating.
They’re not trying to trick anyone — they genuinely don’t know they are disordered. They have been told that obsessing over food and weight is normal, so they believe it’s all there is.
I was one of these women, maybe you are too.
How do you know if you are?
Do you spend lots of time and stress planning out your meals, not just to feed yourself, but to make sure it fits certain guidelines?
Does veering from the “plan” give you a lot of stress?
Do you feel anxious if you don’t go to the gym because you think you’re going to immediately gain weight?
Does eating certain foods make you think it’s gonna immediately become fat on your body?
Do you get anxious eating out in restaurants because you have no control over the ingredients they are using?
Do you think that your life will be so much better and easier once you “lose the weight”?
Do you put off doing things you wanna do until you are thinner?
Does the idea of giving up control over your food send you into a panic?
All of these things are symptoms of a mild eating disorder -- you can call it "disordered eating." Or you could just call it “Perfectionism.” You probably don’t need to go to an ED facility (unless you do!), but your life and happiness is revolving around food and weight, and that’s no way to live.
None of these things have to be your reality.
So, if this is you, what do you do about it?
First, know that no one can force you out of it — it has to be your choice — but it all stems from beliefs about food and weight that aren’t actually true. Some questions to start asking yourself:
What do I think gaining weight means?
What do I think will happen to me if I don’t control my food?
Why do I think that gaining weight is so much worse than other things?
Start kindly asking yourself these questions and see what comes up. Letting go of control is a process, but the kinder you are to yourself, the better. Here is to a 2016 where you can eat in a restaurant without freaking out.