It’s time to talk about: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017

You know what week it is?

Disordered eating, poor body image, low self-esteem, and exercise addiction run around our society like it is absolutely no big deal. We as a society allow these issues to go until they reach the extreme and then we see people speak up. A physician can look at the same person with the same behaviors and not think they need help until they are 40 pounds lighter with a body that is just about to give up. A friend will compliment another friend on her “good efforts and amazing discipline” for being able to eat basically nothing, but when that friend is hospitalized it’s “we were worried about you.” I know, because this happened to me at 15.

While I have been on the other side of recovery for >3 years now, my anger towards the diet industry has only grown. The industry is wearing a guise of ‘helping people get healthier’ while profiting off their fears and insecurities. Every time a diet fails, the industry only gets richer as that person looks for the next big thing to try. Meanwhile, dieters continue to feel worse about themselves.

Among women, we find ourselves promoting feminism yet at the same time following restrictive diets, counting calories, and striving for unattainable body sizes. Rather than celebrating women for all that they are, women are fighting their bodies to take up less space! 

People are obsessed with being healthy to the point of missing the point of having a healthy body. People find themselves “fit” yet too worried about consuming too many calories to go out with friends. Rather than their healthy bodies enabling them to live more fulfilling lives, their brains are filled with thoughts about calories and macros and ways to get to the gym.

And hear me out, I am not blaming the people. I’m blaming our society. It’s quite easy to fall into disordered eating in the age of social media, photoshop, cleaning eating, and calorie counts plastered on every menu.

And since I’ve been there and lived it, I want to share with you a few things that helped my recovery:

Without a doubt, the biggest thing for me was accepting my identity in Christ rather than searching for an identity somewhere else. My eating disorder stole my identity and left me longing for something to fill the hole once I chose recovery. Discovering my identity as a child of God set me free from trying to define myself and be anything other than myself. “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.” Galatians 5:1 

I learned about nutrition from a scientific stand point. When I started my schooling to be an RD, I anticipated that I would be taught the right way to eat. However, what I learned was that there was no right way and that there was no such thing as a perfect diet. Proper nutrition is extremely flexible and personal. I talked a little bit about this when I went on the Nutrition Matters Podcast.

I began fighting the urge to engage in any behaviors that mirrored my life in my ED. I no longer weigh myself or count calories. No foods are off limits. I continue to work on accepting my body each day.

I took antidepressantsI can’t forget these. I hope you’ll read the post for a better explanation, but in short, these made recovery possible.

I learned the impact of choosing my surroundings. I cannot overemphasize the importance in choosing people to be around that do not focus on body size or diet talk. Sometimes it is inescapable (like if you work in an office or if this is how your family is), but if you can choose a strong group of friends who don’t entertain this talk for long, you will find it so much easier to live a diet-free life.

Lately, my motto has been something I’ve heard from a handful of anti-ED voices out there- I’m done trying to control my body size. That’s not my job- my job is to feed myself with lots of nourishing foods, enjoy the eating experience, go to bed at a decent hour, and move my body in ways that feel good. Just like my temperature, my body will regulate my size.

And for those struggling to recover, I just want to say that I never thought I could be where I am right now. It was impossible for me to believe that I could see the other side of recovery while in the midst of it all. So please, keep fighting for your life. Feel free to reach out to me.

Lastly, if you suspect that you may have a problem, you can take an anonymous screening here. There is help for you.

And don’t forget- it’s time to talk about it. 

A brief rant about health headlines

I typed up this brief rant after having thought about for a few days. It’s not the most eloquent of posts, just some thoughts I’d like to get out there!

As a student of nutrition and future RD, I do my best to be in the know with hot topics that are developing in the field. I read journal articles, magazine clips, and position papers in order to stay up to date. Normally, I learn a lot of fascinating information. Not always applicable information, but typically it’s at least enlightening. 

Sometimes, however, I read a headline and just makes me angry. Now, it’s probably no surprise to you, but Health at Every Size has not caught on with the majority of the profession (much less the rest of the medical world), so many times these headlines center around weight loss. One particular headline really set me off recently- 

“Divorce May Shrink an Older Woman’s Waistline… while marriage may widen it, study suggests”

Now tell me, what do you think people imply from this headline? Is the article suggesting divorce as a viable weight loss solution, since you know, there are some people who would literally try anything to shed the pounds. Probably not, but it sure seems to be shining a desirable light on a negative experience. 

And what about these women who “shrink” following divorce? My guess is that a lot of the weight loss that comes after divorce is associated with mental health. Perhaps a woman loses her appetite and struggles to eat following a rocky divorce, leading to unintentional weight loss (a risk factor for malnutrition). Or maybe a woman leaves an emotionally abusive relationship where she was not able to tend to her own needs and now she is able to do things to make herself happy like exercise? 

The weight loss in these situations would not be because of positive reasons, but due to an emotional hardship. The study itself even mentions that a possible reason for weight loss in some divorced women is the return to smoking. We all know that smoking is not a recommended method of weight loss…

Another headline that made me a little angry-

Parenthood, not leftover pregnancy pounds, may cause weight problems

Yes, please, let’s make mothers even more insecure about their weight “problems.”. The article suggests that weight gain is associated with “inconspicuous lifestyle changes.” Well, of course! When a mother has a child, she takes on countless responsibilities that often mean having to eat for convenience or miss a workout. It’s not a surprise to anyone that having children often means spending less time on yourself, leading to possible body changes. It’s perfectly normal- and kudos to mothers who pour themselves out for their children.  

I’m sure my reaction to these articles seems a little over dramatic to some of you guys. My point of contention/annoyance is putting weight loss or weight gain  in the center of health as if it reflects how healthy some one is. I know plenty of people who weight gain meant a greater sense of being (I’m one of them) and I know plenty of people who weight loss reflected negative circumstances in their life.

Weight is not the measure of good health, despite what health headlines would like to imply.


Love in a bowl

If you caught the post Terry put up yesterday afternoon, you’ll understand why I consider myself beyond blessed to have had the same Valentine for the past year. He’s great with words. And acts of service-

He woke up early yesterday morning to make us breakfast. Terry typically sleeps 2 hours later than me (I’m an early riser), so him waking up early enough to make me breakfast was quite a feat. 

How do you feel about St. Valentine’s Day? I definitely agree that it’s a little overly commercialized (everybody wants to make a little $$$ off our feelings), however, I am a big fan of holidays in general and reasons to celebrate.

Terry mentioned that he knows I like flowers, but her prefers to gift me with things I love -> 

The man knows me!

For our Valentine’s Day dinner we opted to do something a little different. We had dinner in and dessert out! Columbia has several dessert-heavy spots and I’ve been itching to try some of them.

For dinner, I worked on the roasted broccoli and sautéed onions while Terry took care of the steak. I never buy red meat because it tends to be a little pricier, so steak is quite the treat for us! 

For dessert we went to Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe in downtown Columbia. We got there a little before all the crowds swarmed in, so we had time to check out the various desserts and menus. This place has beautiful cakes, cheesecakes, sundaes, and milkshakes. Oh, and coffee drinks and alcoholic beverages. 

The plan was for us to split a dessert, but Terry was feeling ambitious and thought we should get our own. I went for the brownie sundae (and coffee) and T got the cookie sundae (and milk). 

These were glorious! Absolutely delicious. The warm brownie + cold ice cream could make a grown man cry. We definitely ate past the point of pleasure but man it was good. The coffee was strong and bitter which helped balance out the dessert. 

Such a treat!!

So you tell me-

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?