Food & Nutrality
I’m a bonafide eating disorder recoveree. Been freed from the majority of ailments that go hand in hand with living a life full of self hatred and body confusion. Been released from the binds of wrath that keep a woman imprisoned in her own skin. Been unimpinged from the unrelenting obsession. So what happens after you heal? For starters you realize that healing is just a petal on the bud of an annual flower. You’re fragile and you regenerate.
People in the Diet Culture Dropout community blame societal norms and the model industry for creating the dysmorphia monster. In that pursuit we’ve taken a role reversal where we no longer praise thinness but applaud obesity, “so long as you love yourself.” While I’m totally on board for releasing ourselves from self-imposed food cages I think it’s highly irresponsible to assume all food is neutral and that fatness should be celebrated. Here’s my brief argument, but first:
I digress: back to food neutrality. This conversation isn’t about judgement, about letting people do what they want, about freedom to choose – it’s about health. It’s about taking personal responsibility for the sake of macrocosmic societal liability. It’s about being brutally honest. Fatness isn’t morally right or wrong, it’s unhealthy. Fatness isn’t neutral – it’s a health hazard. Fatness isn’t bad, it’s dangerous. Do you see my point? When we’re healing/recovering from an eating disorder or any addiction for that matter, many Dietitians, Nutritionists and Therapists feel it’s their duty to take clients through a re-traumatization process of neutralizing one’s feelings about food. They give the patient microdoses of Cheese Whiz with the argument that Cheese Whiz is a neutral food and that the patient must heal their relationship to all food in order to heal their relationship to their bodies. This, to me, is the biggest load of GARBAGE I’ve ever come across. First of all, Cheese Whiz isn’t food. It’s a processed cheese product that only partially comes from the milk of an inhumanely raised cow. We are so quick to defend our horrible behavior and not quick enough to get on our damn knees and humble ourselves. Food is food but manufactured garbage doesn’t fall under that category and is large in part why we’re so sick. Just like a child isn’t born abused people aren’t born fat – we’ve been subjected to it.
Food isn’t neutral – not any more. Not since we invented industrialization and food factories. Not since we evolved as disposals for whatever comes cheapest and most alluring. Not since food has been made hyper palatable in order to coerce our taste buds to eat more than we’re hungry for. No, not anymore. While I understand the mission to heal the mind of its black and white thinking, the grey is just plain cloudy.
Food & Morality
Food holds no moral value. Food isn’t good or bad. Food is healthy, moderately healthy or unhealthy. It comes down to how you treat your body – and why. Does that make sense? After all, this is my opinion and as a dropout herself I have to stay true to my rebellious nature and not just adhere to what purveyors in this community preach. While we’re all lovable in whatever shape and size we come, we also have control over the kind of life we wish to lead. We are not victims and so long as we take that approach, we’ll remain bound by food prison. While eating healthy 100% of the time is somewhat unsustainable, it’s not out of our reach to make better choices ALL of the time.
One of the leading causes of eating disorders is a need to control life circumstances. This is why so many young teen girls fall victim to the throes of anorexia & bulimia – control first, societal ideals second. Thirdly, after periods of excessive starvation or mono-eating (eating only one thing or eating very minimal variety) it’s been shown in research studies that the lack of biodiversity in the microbiome can also lead to the worsening of eating disorders and even potentially be the cause. Thus, while food may simply TASTE good or bad, not BE good or bad, the deleterious affects of certain foods, especially over time, cannot be argued. We’re a product of how we treat our bodies – and that is either good or bad.
I have a very difficult time sitting back watching how influencers and therapists alike guide the volatile minds of people suffering from eating disorders which is an alarming number of people. The mission of Therapeutic Eating – aside from fusing the therapeutic process with honing intuitive prowess – is to speak up to the parts that we don’t often speak up for. The “hey that’s not okay to me” voice that would otherwise fear rejection and judgement. The parts of us that don’t take up space – not our bodies, but our personalities. Be BIG – yes! Hunger is only partly a physiological beckoning for substance. It’s often a desire for things we simply don’t know how to identify – be it touch, affection, sex, adventure, spontaneity etc. I can’t count how many conversations and observations I’ve had with women who are starved for adventure or who don’t speak up for themselves and in turn closet eat because of helplessness. Is this a moral issue? Yes. Is this neutral? No! We need to stop being so fucking dainty and bolster ourselves up with fierce courage. I promise you that’s the only way I began healing. Here’s the play by play:
- I questioned the answers
- I got on my knees
- I began saying thank you rather than please (this puts the wheel of attraction in motion)
- I stopped assuming that others had me & my problems figured out
- I admitted that it was important to live in a body that was BOTH attractive (in my eyes), mobile & healthy – meaning it functions optimally, ie. I get my period, my skin is clear, my digestion works, my mental health is steady.
- I wrote a damn BOOK on changing behavior and lead Quarterly Body Resets so that not only do I hold you accountable, I hold myself accountable first
- I look at my behavior & desires equally
- I set intentions daily and stick to them and when I don’t I do better the next day
- I validate my desire to look and feel good according to my own ideals (values etc). Give or take 15 lbs that’s up to me but 150 lb ontop my current weight cannot be argued. We hit a threshold of reasonability & rationale.
- I break rules (a lot of them)
- I don’t agree with everyone
- I eat what I like and don’t make concessions for other people’s happiness <<< this is a big one. For example, if I’m going to someone’s house or out to dinner and the only thing on the menu is pasta and meatballs I simply won’t eat. Or if I’m on an airplane and the only thing available are cookies and pretzels, I’ll fast. I take charge of my body and hold up to my values – and these may change from time to time. This isn’t about hurting anyone’s feelings, it’s about honoring and knowing what feels best in my body. It’s also not about neutrality. Judge it. Gawk at it. Call me a perfectionist but what I see happening everywhere is that we’re justifying a manipulative food system and I know we’re smarter than that. There are SO MANY ways to “cheat” and eat indulgently without hurting our bodies in the process.
I hope I’m making sense. I know I’m the minority here but the whole reason I’m taking the time out of my Sunday to write this is because maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe there are more people out there who can celebrate this with me. I truly invite you to be a rebel with a cause. Because you are the cause. Be it.
10 Counterintuitive Therapeutic Eating habits:
- sometimes standing up and eating at the stove – even straight from the pot, is incredibly healing. I learned this from dating various men who were all lackadaisical and ate standing up. This was healing for me because it went against so many of the moral codes I was taught even in early recovery. Nix the need for everything to be perfect, especially how and in what context you eat your food. If the environment sucks, wait. If it is what it is and you’re lazily eating your zucchini noodles from the bowl you made them in…have at it.
- drinking alcohol can be healing. I hear you, so let’s slow down. Alcohol is a toxin. When taken in excess can lead to a decline in health. We don’t need to state the obvious. But alcohol, like all things, is also something we have a relationship with. When we address our relationships we create space for observing and ultimately changing the dynamic – yes even for addictive substances. I’ve gone years without consuming alcohol because it used to cause a spiraling affect and lead me to reckless eating – but those days are gone. I addressed my relationship to alcohol which used to be a means of checking out. I now consume alcohol “therapeutically” and know which ones are okay for my body – which took a lot of hangovers and bad decisions to get to this point, but I appreciate the occasional liberation and silly experiences that have come out of it! A cocktail from time to time can lower stress levels and I’m pretty sure a deeper exhalation is something many of us can use.
- more vegetables aren’t always the answer. We need protein and fat. Amounts vary depending on your body. Learn to live inside your body and you’ll find the right balance.
- you can admit you want to live in a thin, fit & healthy body because that reality exists – here’s your permission slip – also laid out in detail in my Therapeutic Eating program. That statement “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” was absolutely demonized by the Diet Culture Dropout community – understandably, but for people who have had to make MAJOR sacrifices for their health and know what if feels like to live in an unhealthy body, “skinny” is the better option. I’m not talking rail thin. I’m not talking skeletal. I’m not talking starving. Allow the definition of skinny to be an ideal you create for your body type and feel confident in. It’s a spectrum.
- food is not neutral (stated above) and does not have moral value – but always comes down to your relationship to your body
- admit what you’re really hungry for. Let’s be real – if you haven’t had an orgasm in over a month or -gasp, longer- make that a priority. Brain neurochemicals like oxytocin which get released every time you have an orgasm are incredibly healing (and satisfying, kinda like a sundae)
- we can eat when we’re not necessarily hungry and we can skip eating when we are. Both are okay. Just be nice to yourself and make sure, in the end, you’re adequately nourished. Establishing and rebuilding trust with ourselves is an honest agreement, not a protocol.
- speak up for yourself – this piggy backs on what I was writing earlier – but if you’re avoiding certain ingredients for health reasons, own it. Stop trying to be so nice. We will always be responsible for ourselves first.
- be courageous enough to find alternatives. How many kinds of potato chips are there on the market? Comm’on. From plantain chips, to mushroom chips to airfrying…we have too many healthier options to continue to choose Lays & Fritos. You’re better & smarter than that.
- lastly, if you ate like a shit head for 3 days in a row – it’s okay to go lighter for another few days without calling it “punishment”. Heck, this is why I created the Body Resets in the first place. I understand what life looks like – it’s not a flower garden – but we can all set aside time in our lives to live intentionally because whatever we apply in 10 days with sincere effort has a ripple affect into other areas of our day to day. I used to gorge on things I don’t gorge on anymore and my body is better for it. Doesn’t mean I don’t gorge on other things but my level of self awareness has increased.
Egg White Omelette with Colby Cheese. The cheese could be counter intuitive bc dairy is almost taboo in the health world. But guess what. To eat their own….
And just in case you misinterpreted everything I stated above, please hear this:
Fatness is not a judgement of character. It’s weight. Just like people can gain weight they can lose it. Some easier than others. Overweight is also a condition, not a disease. The more fatness is seen as a disease the less quickly we can overcome it because disease is wrought with worry, fear and a sense of permanency. We are lovable not because we’re in bodies but because we’re so much more than our bodies. They just deserve the maintenance and utmost care to hold the bounty of our personality and all that we wish to experience in this short time on the planet. Obesity can be destabilizing and it’s not worth defending. Ask anyone markedly overweight – if given the chance to be thin would more likely than not jump at the chance. It’s just what it is. Overeating often happens in the closet. Back in the day when we lived in villages people didn’t have an opportunity to hide out away from their tribe – thus modern issues of obesity were much less if at all a problem. The real point I hope to get across is: We can EAT! We can eat A LOT. There is so much food to enjoy that also benefits our bodies. We can strike a balance. We can address our wounds. We can take the stories and turn them all around. We can free ourselves from the prison walls that stand between us and the life we want to live and all the silly vanity that goes with it. We can. We will. XO musing complete, kT
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