So Throughout January there is typically a lot of talk about how people should “clean” up their diets,start exercising and stop drinking after the festive period. Diets and trends such as “clean eating” float around social media even more than usual.Honestly I have to say though that all this diet talk really does not bother me.It does not make me want to join in on a diet or a food restriction trend. It does not make me want to relapse and lose weight. My eating disorder was never triggered by diet talk in the first place.
I know that for some people who have struggled with an ED or are struggling hearing all this diet and exercise talk CAN be hard.It CAN be tempting to jump on the clean eating bandwagon. I empathise the word can because for some people with ED’s it may not bother them. Personally for me all the diet talk doesn’t bother me and even when I was really in the depths of my ED it did not bother me. I will happily order deep fat fried sweet potato fries and a curry at work even when a customer has told me all about their new diet regime.It really annoys me when social media often portrays eating disorders as being triggered by diet talk or a desire to be thin or look a certain way. Sure this can play a part but simplifying an eating disorder to a diet that got taken too far does a disservice to the eating disorder sufferers for who this is not the case.
I do not believe in the “clean eating” trend. Since when did moralizing food become a thing? Since when did foods such as chocolate and cheesecake become unclean and dirty? The food we eat should not affect our self esteem,how we view ourselves or how others view us. Eating processed sugary food does not make you a bad person or unhealthy. Sure if you ate these foods in huge amounts then it could have a negative impact on your health but having a slice of cheesecake or two really will not make you pile on the pounds or give you heart disease.
I believe everything in moderation is ok (that included moderation itself) somedays you may eat a whole large takeaway pizza to yourself with a friend and maybe that may not be considered “moderation” but its ok and it can fit into a healthy lifestyle because its not like you are going to just eat pizza everyday for every meal for the rest of your life. The other day after a very drunk night out (and very fun night) me and a couple friends walked(ok staggered) to McDonalds. At first I wasn’t going to join in because 1)I genuinely do not like that sort of food but mainly because the voice in my head was saying it was too unhealthy, too many calories, especially after drinking so much. So what did I do? Split a box of 20 chicken nuggets with my friend is the answer. Because food even fast food will not hurt me as much as going along with the eating disordered voice in head. And its perfectly ok because its not like I eat chicken nuggets at 5am everyday.Most days I have a balanced breakfast. I love vegetables,fruit,lean protein and oats and all those foods which are supposedly “clean” but I also believe that a balanced diet can include all foods and there is no such thing as “dirty” food.
Health can be defined as”A complete state of mental, physical and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease. Restricting food because society has deemed them “unhealthy” can have a negative impact on both social and mental wellbeing. Something which strikes me about these diets and clean eating regulations is that they can lead to individuals spending too much time fixating on what they eat and developing disordered eating habits. Clean eating or restrictive diets can suck the joy out of eating as well as social situations. I remember having “fear foods” and being scared to eat certain foods or socialise in case I was faced with a slice of cake and end up binging. Restricting certain foods can lead you to actually crave them more. Restriction can lead to intense cravings then binging, guilt shame,purging,over exercise, compensation e.t.c
Whether you are recovering from an ED or not it’s ok to eat a slice of cake made with butter, sugar and flour and not just eat it but to actually enjoy it.You can actually use oil to fry food rather than that 0 calorie spray crap and have pizza without getting heart disease or becoming obese.You don’t need permission to enjoy all kinds of foods,you don’t need to run 10 miles to justify a meal out with friends,you don’t need to eat healthy all day to allow yourself something labelled”unhealthy”. You will not suddenly become unfit or unhealthy.
Its all about balance. There is no such thing as a perfect and correct way of eating. Food is fuel for our bodies but it is also meant to be enjoyed and allow us to live full lives.