Beyond the Eating Disorders, Rules, and Nutrition Facts
Food has been called a spouse, a child, a best friend, an enemy, a bully, a listener, and more.
This topic has been on my mind for years. I’ve written about it many times but I wanted to start publishing these for you to read. I want to do a series so hopefully I’ll be writing more on this topic soon because it’s a little taboo. I know so many people struggle with this problem, but let’s talk about it.
I wrote this post back in high school and I’ve tweaked it a little, but it is still very exigent and real in my life and our society today. Back then, I read a couple of articles from an online magazine talking about what goes through someone’s head when they are having a YOLO meal, or an indulgent meal. The feeling was not pleasant; it was very guilt-filled and anxiety-driven, but that is not how it should be. Although these meals may deviate from the type of food we usually eat, there is no one set of rules or the “original” lifestyle that everyone should follow.
Everyone is different and that’s simply how things should be, but everyone needs to discover their own routine. Everyone needs to discover a lifestyle that suits and works for them. and it shouldn’t be looked down upon. Categorizing foods into good and bad foods lead to an innocent-looking road towards orthorexia, but food is just food.
It is such a simple statement but actually living a life where we accept this can be quite a journey.
Life is about balance
Life is not always about food and worries. I’ve been the one who was constantly looking for faults in my food that would categorize it as unhealthy. I’ve been the one who never went out to eat or attended socials that involved mystery-nutrition-facts foods or foods I couldn’t control, but life is more than food. For myself, I first started doing Blogilates’ videos for fun but you really can’t find fitness without it’s best buddy, food, trailing somewhere along. I began reading more about food and healthy regimes; it got me interested and I began evaluating my own life. I saw so many areas I could make swaps for.
Almond milk for cow’s milk.
Stevia for sugar.
Applesauce for butter.
Oat flour for normal flour.
Sugar-free, fat-free, light everything.
Although those foods were healthier, my original foods were not even that unhealthy.
I looked down upon white rice because people preached that rice was full of carbs and not good for you, but as I looked back on the 13 years I ate rice every day growing up, I realized that it was completely fine for me. Some people may choose not to eat it for certain personal reasons, but my reason was not personal. It was purely because others had set up a negative aroma around it.
Furthermore the shame that I felt when I sinned against the rules of nutrition painfully ate away at me. Now I’ve learned that life is about balance, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, everything. 20 years ago orthorexia was unknown, I mean who would’ve thought that eating too healthy could be unhealthy, but it’s just proof that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing too.
Your body can actually handle varieties of food
Speaking of bad things, our bodies were made to handle all sorts of foods; it can still process the unhealthy foods and be okay. Similarly, our bodies were made with an immune system to defend ourselves from the germs in the air and the bacteria in the external environment so we don’t have to live in bubbles our entire life. There is living bacteria inside our stomachs; even though bacteria usually has a negative connotation associated with it, this bacteria inside our bodies is essential to our survival.
Likewise our bodies need sugar, fat, carbs, and proteins. Completely fat free is not what your body needs. Don’t be scared to eat that donut if you are out having fun with friends and it makes you happy. All those guilty thoughts running through your head while you’re eating that donut completely takes away from the pleasure and enjoyment that the donut was supposed to bring in the first place.
If your mindset has been set on a “zero-fat, zero-sugar” mode it might be hard to break, but learning to accept your food as it is, fat, sugar, carbs and all, is a step by step journey, so know that your body can handle way more than what you give credit to it for.
Healthy mind and body is more than just eating healthy food.
Restricting yourself and associating every food with a certain number puts stress on the mind. Yes healthy is good and should be strongly encouraged as a lifestyle but it should not consume your life.
The mind and body connection is very powerful.To place so much importance on eating clean and having a healthy routine just sets up a moist environment for guilty feelings to thrive when not following the “correct” lifestyle.
Those who have orthorexia have instilled a willpower to say no and have developed a strong sense of self-control. The difference between healthy eaters and orthorexics is that orthorexics put more stress and emphasis on the importance of healthy food in their lives. It becomes an obsession that exists as a strenuous source of stress physically and mentally.They can convince themselves to believe that eating an apple is bad for them because it has sugar in it and if they do eat it they need to exercise afterwards to punish themselves for caving in.
That’s a strong and very controlling mind, but the mind doesn’t always have to exercise its dictator role. Calories will always remain just a number, the scale will never mean more than a number, but health is more than the numbers.
Maintaining a healthy mind and body involves more than just eating the “right”, nutritious, healthy food; it’s about enjoying life, nourishing your mind, and taking gentle care of your thoughts.
Make peace with your food, just relax and enjoy the present.
Life is meant for living and food is meant for enjoyment and relaxing. It shouldn’t involve a lot of thinking, calculating, and planning. We should make conscious choices to an extent but labelled ‘healthy’ or not, food is needed for our survival, so enjoy the taste, flavours, and nourishment that the food provides. Making peace with your food is essential to accepting your food as is.
Love yourself above all food and listen to your body above all food, because beyond the eating disorders, rules, and hype of the nutrition world, food is just food.
This is my story,
Michelle Yin | October 14, 2017 | 4:49 pm|