Why does everyone seem to struggle with food? (Eating Disorder Awareness)
MAJOR disclaimer: I am not suggesting that every single soul on this Earth struggles with food! That’s not my intention whatsoever in writing this post, however, I wanted to just share some of my thoughts around the seemingly never-ending diet culture world we live in today and how it may be reaping serious problems on our relationship to food at ALL levels of life! So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about food and struggling with it.
I remember being 12 years old and watching a commercial for weight loss supplement shakes… on Nickelodeon. Yeah, like the kids TV channel with cartoons and Spongebob, that channel! I was just eating my breakfast on a Sunday morning minding my own childhood business and then, BOOM, diet pills… what an interesting marketing tactic.
Because truthfully this wasn’t the first nor would it be even close to being the last time I would stumble across diet pills, shakes, plan, or programs in my lifetime.
I’m 23 by the way.
And so from the young age of pre-teen years, I was bombarded with thin talk, diet talk, and you guessed it, weight-loss talk. And you reading this now are probably the same way!
Your aunt, cousin, brother, mom, or grandpa alike may all have weird ‘rituals and beliefs’ around something simple like food.
And why is that?
I mean it’s gotta be deeper than just seeing a commercial here and there and thinking, “Yep, I am never going to eat carbs again.” Why does everyone seem to have a problem somehow or in some form with food?
Let’s dive in:)
I think the biggest piece of the puzzle so often skipped over when it comes to conversations around eating disorders or generalized disorderly eating is the fact that we never should have really f***ed with the equation in the first place.
Things like body weight, body height, frame, build, muscle to fat ratio, etc. are mostly predestined and predetermined factors of our physical bodies… that do NOT come in a one size fits all.
Multiple studies have now come out showcasing that weight and body size is not the sole factor of health and functionality of one’s body.
It’s not even in the top things to consider when it comes to someone’s true health!
Some people are built larger and some smaller! Some bodies have a higher natural BMI than others do! Muscle weighs a lot more than fat, so many athletes are actually considered ‘obese’ on the charts of doctors and suffice it to say, it’s been shown that true health and wellness isn’t just a simple formula of height X weight = acceptable or not.
More and more health professionals are starting to recognize this misconception and are pushing to focus on an individual’s body against an individual’s wellness instead of trying to make all bodies look the same in the hopes that all bodies will then function the same.
Why is this important?
I’ll use myself as an example for this.
TW: I will be discussing weights just for the importance of showcasing my point, but if weights and numbers trigger you or your recovery PLEASE skip this section down to where I pick back up with my original blog writing *I will have it bolded*
When I was hospitalized from anorexia, I weighed one hundred and ten pounds and I was 5’5’’. Now, I’m not here to say that I was super small or I wasn’t. My point in sharing this statistic is to showcase that many people are also 5’5’’ and weigh around that weight and they are TRULY healthy!
They could have a blood test, bone test, EKG, they could be athletic. They could have a normal period if they got periods, etc.
I was dying at this weight.
I don’t mean to sound grim, I want to hit this ball home!
I was losing my hair. I had no period. I was freezing and shaking all the time. I would get migraines. I was weak. I was losing muscle mass. I was hospitalized because my family was concerned that I had begun to have organ failure and I was in a deep state of ketosis, which is where your body has no more sugar or carbs to burn, so it burns fat, but I also had NO fat to burn away either!
I was ill at this weight. Yet, even on BMI charts, I wasn’t truly that underweight!!
For my height, I was actually in the safe zone at 110… but my poor body DID NOT feel safe.
I now weigh 145 lbs and have never felt better! Still 5’5’’, still Emily, still me, but so so much happier, healthier, more vibrant and energized! I have my period back. I can go hiking. I sleep soundly at night. I have healthy nails, skin, and hair. I am more ‘awake’ mentally. I don’t experience so much constant anxiety from being so hungry.
… and yet, I am now almost ‘overweight.’
Yep. Isn’t that heartbreaking?
For me and millions of others, we were told that certain weights are acceptable and certain weights that are not and the worst thing ever done was
tying weight to health
health to body size
body size to worth
and worth to… food
Food never asked to be the sole factor on if we were or were not allowed to smile that day! Food never asked me to be manipulated over and over and OVER again to try to ‘look’ healthy while we all ‘felt’ miserable.
Have you ever thought about that?
How we chase the image of health, wellness, and happiness while feeling sad, miserable, exhausted, and insecure.
As if health and happiness can only lie on our skin and not within?
And that was my problem back in 2008. I was sitting there, eating Frosted Flakes, watching TV, ‘feeling’ alive and joyous and energized and excited for the Sunday ahead and I got smacked in the face with a miserable weight loss add.
That told me I didn’t ‘look’ healthy and that looks dictated true well-being.
Feelings were thrown out the window when it came to diet culture.
You never saw commercials asking you if you FELT fulfilled or sexy or confident or worthy. We only saw ads asking if we LOOKED the part.
And most of us, naturally, did not look like a model in a magazine.
So… we tried to.
We tried to be thin and small and slim and trimmed and toned and lean.
Everyone wants to be healthy, right?
But we forget that healthy is just as much *if not more* a destination of feeling rather than a destination number on a scale under our feet.
There are usually 8 spokes of health/wellness/happiness that are taught and talked about online and in counseling settings.
8 Wheels of Wellness
Only one of these focuses on our physical body.
& yet most of us >> me included >> spent about 99% of our energy on this one spoke.
Completely ignoring and negating the other 7 spokes with all of our might!
& this is why we struggle with food.
When we’re told that our ENTIRE health future lies in the size of our pants, it would be quite easy to then put all your eggs in this one basket. Take that and then top it off with being told that fame, sex, money, and fortune come from ALSO looking this specific way and you have quite the recipe for disaster!
Health is not a dress size.
Just like worth is not a gender.
Intellect is not a race.
And the list can go on and on!
*Almost* everyone struggles in some form or another with food because humans want to be healthy! We want to be taken care of! We want to be loved and adored and seen and heard! And when we were then fed a lie that all of this and more can be found in diet culture’s secret sauce of pills, shakes, powders, and plans…
We lost touch with true health.
And our true happiness.
And so I want to challenge both you and I… how do we gain it all back?