Overcoming an Eating Disorder
Lately on Instagram, I’ve been getting more and more comments from people who are unhappy with their bodies, have bad eating habits, the beginnings of an eating disorder, or already suffer a full-blown one. It’s made me realize that eating disorders are not something that are addressed often and are still made to be such a private thing, when in fact most of us suffer from various levels of one (and/or body dis-morphia)
I wanted to do a post on this honestly to say that it’s NOT something to be ashamed of and rather show that it is possible to overcome and start leading a life where you are accepting your body, and work hard to look and feel your best rather than striving to always be something else. Please note though, by no means am I a qualified counselor, I just wanted to share the tips that worked for myself.
For me, exercising has always been a part of my life, but when it became un-enjoyable I knew something had to change. I would eat, eat, eat then feel such guilt that I’d exercise the following day as long as it took in order to burn off the excess calories, all while restricting my food intake. It’s a vicious cycle because this only leads to more binges, which leads to more restriction.
So how did I personally change? The first thing was by solely focusing on clean eating. I made this the number one priority and working out second, so if I ate well in a day and felt good I would workout, but the only goal I had each day was to get loads of healthy foods in my body. With this, working out became really fun again and I began my healthy/clean eating journey! Below I’m going to outline my personal tips that helped me get out of these negative patterns that so many suffer. I believe that by incorporating them into your day-to-day life, it will help whether you just want a bit more confidence or you are trying to beat an ED.
Things you should stop focusing on: (side note, I full-heartedly believe in always focusing on the positive rather than negative, or the foods you can have versus what you can’t, but I do believe that these tips below for the ‘stop’ list are vital.)
- Counting calories
- Weighing yourself
- Only thinking of collar, hipbones, and thigh gaps
- Doing cardio obsessively
- Skipping meals
- Eating foods that say “low fat/low calorie”
Now before you jump on me saying “but to lose weight you need to reduce calorie intake and to do that you need to monitor your calories” OR “the scale helps show your progress,” let me explain. When you focus on things like what’s mentioned above, it can easily become obsessive- how many times a day or week do you weigh yourself? How often do you look at food and know how many calories you are eating? How many times do you scour over pictures of collarbones wishing you had them? For lasting weight loss or maintenance, this does not happen from watching numbers your whole life, this comes from making a lifestyle out of healthy eating and exercise. I’ve been there doing all of the above and it starts to consume you whether you will admit it or not. So why do I not believe in weighing yourself? Because the scale is deceptive. It doesn’t account for muscle gain, which increases your metabolism, gets rid of cellulite, and gets rid of body fat. Muscle weighs more than fat so when a scale is telling you haven’t lost, in your mind this is a very negative thing, when in fact having muscle will make you look skinnier and fitter than just weight loss. So why no calorie counting? Because you don’t need to count calories when you are eating all-natural, earth based foods. Fruits and vegetables never got anyone fat. So many times I see people using these calorie counter apps to eat 1,000 calories a day, yet they are having crackers, strawberry yogurt, biscuits, cereals, store bought sandwiches, etc. Do any of these have nutritional benefit? Quick answer, no. Eating foods that say low fat/low calorie means they have reduced something in that food and typically added sugar. It’s a lose lose. Fat is your friend and will keep you full. Keeps you skin and nails glowing and healthy and it will boost your metabolism. Anytime there is a health claim on a box it means it is full of absolute shit which will only be more destructive to your goals.
Things that you SHOULD start focusing on:
- Having 3+ colors in each meal you eat
- Using herbs and spices
- Lifting weights to build muscle
When it comes to your body, you need food everyday. We all know this. However, depending on what food you put in your system will effect your metabolism, your energy levels, how you think about your body and the way your body looks. Eating clean, unprocessed foods have the ability to give you a clear mind, reduce ‘brain fog’ cause by excessive gluten, sugar and processed foods. They can give you your dream body without you even worrying because you no longer have to count calories if you are eating naturally nutrient dense foods. And eating clean will give you a positive outlook on life. Add onto that some natural herbs and spices such as cinnamon, which increases metabolism and you will begin enjoying food more and all the benefits you see. When it comes to exercise, too often do I see girls only doing light cardio for hours on end. This not only does very little for your body, it takes up time. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky. I repeat, lifting weights WILL NOT MAKE YOU BULKY. The complete opposite: it will give you long lean muscles, tone and definition, get rid of cellulite and make your bum perkier. If you are scared in a gym, ask for an introductory session with a PT which they normally do not charge for.
I realize that this is not a topic that is easy to discuss, nor are there set rules as to how to get over eating issues/an actual ED. All I can really say is that it takes time. Things that we deal with mentally can take years to overcome, however don’t let this scare you… just remember that it is totally worth it to be free of those negative emotions/thoughts and you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with a few small changes.