Some things I talk about today might be harmful or triggering to someone who is currently in recovery for an eating disorder. Proceed at your own discretion.
Before I begin today’s post, I want to express to you how much I enjoy food. I love the act of eating. However, throughout the years, my relationship with food has been all over the place. I’ve adopted a pretty piss poor diet filled with many a trips to local fast food joints & I’ve been at the other end of the spectrum where the thought of grabbing food at a drive-thru makes me anxious & even tearful.
I’ll admit that my relationship with food isn’t where I’d like it to be. I have exhibited many symptoms of disordered eating over the past few years. Most of my disordered thoughts can be grouped into one category commonly known as “orthorexia,” which is the extreme desire to be healthy & “pure.” This sounds rather harmless but upon doing some research, orthorexia can be just as harmful as any other eating disorder. Sufferers may become malnourished from eliminating so many “bad” foods that are actually beneficial to proper health (ie: banning all fruits because they contain sugar) & unfortunately can be fatal in most extreme cases.
Maybe you’ve been experiencing similar symptoms & you don’t know what to do. I’m here to tell you it’s okay! Especially with today’s technology, it’s frighteningly easy to access a plethora of information that will make you second guess anything & everything. Essentially that’s what happened to me. It’s truly amazing (& terrifying!) how our brains work & how they trick us into believing things that are not factual.
One of the best things I have done for my mental health thus far is recognizing my disordered eating thoughts as abnormal & unhealthy. That’s surely a positive step in the right direction! But how do we determine what is healthy/unhealthy behavior? I’ll give you some personal examples.
The following information can be triggering to some, so please refrain from reading if you feel this could be harmful to you:
Healthy Behavior: Checking out the online nutritional stats of meals at a restaurant in advance before heading out to order.
Unhealthy Behavior: Unable to make a decision because there’s something “wrong” with each meal. Nothing is healthy enough. Eventually dining out isn’t an option.
Healthy Behavior: Bringing along a healthy dish to a social gathering so there’s lots of variety to choose from!
Unhealthy Behavior: Bringing along your own food in fear of losing control around other foods. Maybe you might cancel last minute because it’s easier to simply stay home.
Healthy Behavior: Enjoying your favorite dessert.
Unhealthy Behavior: Avoiding your favorite dessert at ALL costs because dessert = junk food = failure. There is no longer any enjoyment in food.
I am exhausted. Mentally, physically, & emotionally.
There are many days where I believe that if I didn’t start wanting to be healthier I wouldn’t be in this position. I spend the majority of my day thinking about food. Thinking up the perfect meals. I never count calories, but those calories must be beneficial to improving my health. Sometimes I make myself angry thinking about it. I never started my fitness journey to be skinnier…I was already skinny! I started to improve my symptoms of anxiety & depression, which in turn spiraled into something of a mess.
You might even be thinking, “well jeez she can’t be that bad. I had lunch with her last week/month/etc & she appeared fine.” It’s really important to remember that everyone has issues. It might not be with food, but we ALL have internal struggles that we don’t feel comfortable talking about. Sure, maybe you did have lunch with me & I looked fine. But, us humans, we are excellent at hiding things that we don’t want others to discover. After I left you, I probably spent at least an hour thinking up all the ways I could rid my body of the crap sitting in my belly. “Maybe making myself throw up just this one time won’t be so bad. I’ll never do it again. Maybe the food was bad & I’ll get sick anyway. (mind you, I have an EXTREME PHOBIA OF VOMITING. Please, if these thoughts are happening to you, TELL SOMEONE. ANYONE.) Or maybe I could just go to the gym later & burn it off. Or what if I just skipped breakfast & lunch tomorrow to make up for it. Yeah, that’ll do it. I’ll do better tomorrow.”
Above all else, I feel like a hypocrite. I’m a group fitness instructor. I’m supposed to be better than this. I’m supposed to be a role model of “balance” & in trying to achieve that I lost myself along the way. I lost what it meant to be healthy.
In my last post , where I interview Steph, she says: “There is light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s there waiting for you to SHINE. Know that ED is not your destiny, it’s just part of your journey, and for some reason you were meant to go through it but in the end it will make you a better person.” These words have stuck with me ever since. Anything negative that happens to you definitely seems unfair at the time but eventually you will realize it was meant to happen. No matter how cruel or hurtful, it was meant to be. So trust it.
So…why on earth am I sharing such personal information?
Because no one is perfect. I know there are people out there who look at me like I have my shit together all the time. Realistically, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not putting this information out there as a “look at me!!!” tactic. One of the reasons why I started this blog was to open up about both my triumphs & struggles. We can’t be happy all of the time &, for me anyway, it’s very beneficial when I discover there are other people out there going through similar ordeals.
I’m not a fitness guru, a yoga queen, or even a green juice addict. I’m Amy. I like to dance scantily clad in heels & stand on my head. I enjoy eating & cuddling (simultaneously is even better) & I have a shitty relationship with food. But that’s only one tiny part about me! I’m also a medical secretary & I teach group fitness classes. I’m the first (& only!) POP Pilates instructor in NL, Canada, & I prefer Baileys in my coffee…but only on weekends of course!
If you know someone who has an eating disorder here are a few simple ways you can help:
- Avoid commenting on the individual’s weight
- Avoid commenting on the individual’s food choices
- Public confrontation/constant nagging will do a disservice to both parties
- Avoid talking about diets or how to lose weight (hello awkward turtle!)
- Simply be there for support & encouragement (probably the most important of all)
I hope you enjoyed reading my post even though it got a little personal! I like talking about taboo subjects that maybe others are too afraid to bring up themselves. As always, I’d love to help you anyway I can or even simply have a chat. You’re welcome to send me an email but just remember I’m not a certified health professional!