In a world with so many voices telling us the “right” way to eat, it’s hard to know what is actually correct. My brain gets frazzled trying to keep up with it all. It’s just so overwhelming.
I want to do want is right. I don’t want to do what is wrong. My sense of morality becomes interwoven when it comes to eating.
My generation has grown up with the mentality of 1990s diets. Yeah, there were good things, too – like Boy Meets World and Saved by the Bell. Oh, and obviously Full House. But, we were also taught that carbs were bad (Atkins diet) and that we needed to cut out fat. We were told that margarine was always better than butter and that if the package said “sugar-free”, we should go for that brand. Counting calories was a good thing – the less calories, the better.
I’ve learned since that the ‘90s really messed me up as far as food goes. I naturally wanted good food, but somewhere along the way I got confused. I began to see fat as negative, carbs as negative, and even protein as negative. More on this tomorrow.
Today, we are taught better things… but from too many people. You have Paleos, Vegans, Vegetarians. You have the Gluten-Free crowd, the No-Sugar crowd, the No-Dairy crowd. You have the Eat-Mostly-Meat Texans and the other Deep-Fry-Everything Southerners. There are those who believe that the less you eat, the better. Some believe you need to eat more and more, and some even say you should eat whatever you want. You have those who still have the diet mentality – we should always be trying the next big thing to see if that one will work. There is an excess of diet pills, of protein powders, of supplements. What do we choose? Who do we listen to?
We’ve become disordered. Maybe we don’t have an eating disorder, but that doesn’t mean we’re not confused.
The most succinct information I’ve found on Disordered Eating comes from the National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC) based in Australia, so this information comes directly from their website. I recommend going here to learn more. In fact, their fact sheet on disordered eating and dieting is one of the most helpful resources I’ve ever read.
NEDC defines Disordered Eating as “a disturbed and unhealthy eating pattern than can include restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals”. Examples of this might include:
- Fasting or chronic restrained eating
- Binge eating
- Self-induced vomiting
- Unbalanced eating, such as restricting a major food group (i.e. fats or carbohydrates)
- Laxative, diuretic, enema misuse
- Steroid and creatine use
- Using diet pills
- Dieting, which is “one of the most common forms of disordered eating”
People with disordered eating patterns might experience some or all of these:
- Fatigue and/or insomnia
- Overeating, resulting in weight gain
- Feelings of guilt & of failure
- Guilt and self-disgust resulting from binge-eating, failure to stay on a diet, or gaining weight
- May isolate themselves out of fear of social eating
- Feelings of low self-esteem
- Impaired emotions
- Increased thoughts of suicide
- Head and/or muscles aches
- Diarrhoea and/or constipation
- May develop or have an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), or OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder)
Disordered eating is, I guess you could say, the “gateway drug” to eating disorders. It can start with a simple diet. It can start with hearing too many voices and cutting out certain food groups. Have conversations about healthy eating practices – real ones – like eating and balancing fats, carbs, and proteins. Begin to talk about good fats in a positive way – avocadoes, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, milk, yogurt. We can’t tell someone that might struggle with disordered eating that avocadoes have fat, especially if we have a negative tone about it.
Changing our perception of food to a positive one will help yourself and others. I, for one, am trying to shift my views on food. Join me in fighting against the noise surrounding what we should and should not eat. Be a positive voice for those who are struggling.