Hi, I’m Elie, and I have disordered eating habits.
I never thought I would ever say that, but I truly believe MOST women have some sort of bad relationship with food, especially in the fitness industry. Seems counter-intuitive, I know.
I specifically say, “disordered eating habits” rather than “eating disorder” because I’m not anorexic nor am I bulimic. I do, however, binge. And I do eat less calories than anyone should. Its cyclical, like most disorders are. Usually, I binge Monday through Friday. Then I eat nothing over the weekend to make up for it. I wasn’t doing in on purpose, initially. I have always struggled with emotional eating and when I was bored, sad or excited, the answer was (is) food. I used to measure time by when I would eat, even if I wasn’t hungry. Sometimes I still do, which turns into binging days.
Lately, I’ve had a really bad relationship with food, to the point where I don’t want to eat anything. These days it seems to coincide with weekends or, I have just realized, days where I lack routine and structure. Eating disorders are closely linked to mental illnesses and are usually biological in nature - they can be inherited. Since I also struggle with some sort of depressions and anxiety, it is a natural progression to develop disordered eating habits if physically self-coerced into practicing such habits (via poor body image, stress, etc).
I have had a bit of time to think about why I have such a relationship with food and I have a few distinct thoughts on my situation as well as why it is such a widespread problem in modernized countries.
I know I binge on weekdays because that is when I experience the most emotion – usually through work. Drama, deadlines, critical feedback and new projects bring on binging out of emotional discomfort and now, habit. But the guilt is still there. And that is a heavy emotion to deal with. I use it to fuel workouts and diet plans after a binge, and to be fair, I get GREAT workouts after a binge – so much energy! But the diet part never goes through.
Enter weekends: I lose that workday routine and feel so much calmer and realized that I just plain forget to eat. It will be 2pm before I even think about eating something and I’ll maybe eat 500-700 calories Saturday and Sunday. I think in my mind, I subconsciously do it to make up for eating in a surplus throughout the week – and this may be why my weight maintains so well. But it’s also why I can’t lose any extra fat or gain any substantial muscle.
So, why do I do this? If I know my triggers and realize when and how I binge and “starve,” why don’t I just fix it? Well, any person who struggles with disordered eating knows you can’t just stop. Like any addiction or mental illness, it’s NOT easy. It takes time, perseverance and usually outside help. I’ve researched and reached out to people who have struggled like me and I know I’m not alone – in fact, there’s probably more of us than we realize.
One major factor is body image – whether brought on by outside influences or my own sick mind games, I am never good enough in my own eyes. This is perpetuated by my perfectionist nature, which many people with eating disorders can attest too. I am extremely blessed to have a husband, a partner in life, who thinks I am beautiful regardless. His affirmation is enough to keep me from going over the edge. But I know I must fix my own thoughts to truly believe it myself.
Another major factor is the standards and *perceived* beauty ideals found on social media. There is a lot of self-love and body positivity on Instagram these days, which is so wonderful. But there’s also a lot of crap. And it hurts to see it! Social media can be so encouraging and inspiring but there are days I want to delete all my accounts and profiles because of the images I see and how my mind twists the truth, consciously and unconsciously. The sad thing is I bet 90% of all social media users would agree with me on this too. So why do we do it to ourselves, this self loathing and lust after a body we don’t have and can’t have? I don’t really know.
Also, side rant here, some girls will post images and captions about how they want to be relatable and that they know 99% of their images are unattainable looks. But why post them in the first place?! If you know that level of leanness isn’t healthy or sustainable, why is your entire profile on Instagram #tbt shots to your leanest self? It sucks, because people like myself think that’s the norm, when it really isn’t. That being said, social media is what you make it. We must guard ourselves against things that poison our hearts and minds and I have truly slacked in that regard. HOWEVER, please, post those pictures of your HARD WORK and PROGRESS. I'm not discounting anyone who celebrates their victories, because they are worth celebrating. But those who have gained a following through dishonest depictions of themselves is just a hard pill for me to swallow these days.
And so, between an already-poor body image and the repeated (self-induced – I seek out these accounts) social media blasting of super lean, fit images, I have developed disordered eating habits.
If you've made it to the bottom, thanks for taking the time to read this raw post! It's unorganized and unedited, because its real life. I don't really know where I go from here, but I do plan on researching some nutritionists and coaches to help with my diet so that I can have healthy mind and healthy body. As I said on Instagram last week, I want to pursue structured eating and workouts and really build my body, but I already knew I needed a coach - I just didn't have the words to say everything I said above. Things may change; I may end up eating differently based on the different seasons of my life, and that is completely normal. For now, i'm happy to be eating more mindfully, in whatever capacity that may mean.