Hello, my dear friends and readers. Let me introduce you to my friend, Natalie. I met Natalie through a local running store, that ultimately, led to a small running group. She and I became fast friends and, we have seen each other through a lot of ups and downs in life. Last year, she took on one of the hardest and biggest challenges of her life. She went to get treated for anorexia, an eating disorder that was, literally, wasting her away to just bones. Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of problem that just goes away after treatment. It stays with you…it eats at you…it gets in your head and it makes it hard to stay on the right path.
With the holidays in full swing, she commented on the way her life is just saturated in diet culture. It’s hard enough to deal with when you are in the population trying to lose weight. But have you ever thought about how hard it is for someone who is obsessed with being smaller? Someone who can easily be triggered by the word “diet” or “fat” or even “calorie?”
I have been wanting to welcome guest bloggers to my page for awhile now, so I’m going to let Natalie share her thoughts on the saturation of the market with “quick fixes” and how it can be a problem for people who have disordered ways of eating or looking at nutrition.
We all can agree, diets are bullshit. Your body doesn’t need to do a cleanse, you have a liver that does that for you. Your dietary choices should not be used as a way to restrict yourself from what you can and cannot eat. And diets…don’t work. As anyone who does any sport, you know how important FOOD is and PROPER NUTRITION is to performance and longevity. It’s hard, though, even for people without an eating disorder, to feel normal when it feels like every ad, commercial, influencer, and the like out there is telling you that you need to be smaller and this gimmick or new workout is how to do just that.
So, let me turn it over to a great friend of mine, a fellow athlete, and someone who has been on the dark side of an eating disorder and is working hard to recover, despite being bombarded with messages that are the complete opposite of what she needs to be feeding herself.
Below are her words, as well as a before and after photo for reference. Thank you, Natalie, for being brave enough to share your story and your thoughts on this matter. Keep fighting.
It’s all the time; all year and everywhere! In the malls, magazines, on TV, the internet, radio, at work, with friends and now invading your emails!
DIETS: how to diet, which one is right for you, what melting pill takes the fat away, and on and on it goes.
Food has always been a part of life. You can’t get away from it: from the moment you’re born, it’s literally shoved into your mouth, and then, we are told not to eat what we just learned to put into our mouths because it is bad for you. Yet, it’s what we have to have to stay alive!
The diet industry probably makes more money than the company’s for any other product. I think I read it’s a multi-billion dollar corporation! Well, as hard is it is for someone wanting to get healthy (which one to pick, this one didn’t work, etc.), what its like for a person with an eating disorder is absolutely just torture!!
In my active portion of my ED, I was all about different fads and diets and everyone was willing to give it to me despite the fact that I was sick and losing too much weight. I had doctors that even encouraged my particular way of eating – healthy of course – but I left out how much I exercised to burn off the little healthy food I did eat! I’m sure if I had tried I probably could have found a surgeon to give me gastric bypass!! Trust me, I thought about it! But, now in process of being in recovery, which is the hardest thing I have ever done, it’s all around me and dangling in my face 24/7. I know this is a part of life and they didn’t actually cause my ED, but they feed it, literally and metaphorically!!
I get emails everyday for the newest product of diet pills. I see a runner on an ad and then go to read it and it talks about counting macros or the Keto diet. Even gluten-free diets are used to restrict, which is kinda funny considering they have some of the highest sugar counts in their stuff just so it tastes good. It’s supposed to be for allergies to gluten or, more specifically, what it was originally for was Celiac disease which has to be diagnosed with a biopsy and blood work! Period! I have many friends with this and they can actually die from it! So, to take specific diets for specific diseases is also the new fad. Like I said, it’s crazy and it can make a normal person crazy, but with the ED, I feel like I have no chance at ever getting better because it always draws that part of me back to the fact that I’m not good enough the way I am. I could be thinner if I just took this pill or if I rubbed my belly with this amazing fat burning gel or if I get my macros or micro nutrients right. I have to say, in my treatment (which was meant for an athlete), I have learned about macros and micro foods, but in the end, we are people that can get obsessed about anything and take it to extremes. It’s in our way of thinking and I say in our DNA too.
They say people with ED are a lot like alcoholics, if that gives you some idea of how bad it is. Except you don’t need alcohol to live, but you do have to eat food. To constantly give all this media attention to something that will only work for a small time, and then the targeted person will go off their diet and then have to start all over again, because they are desperate at that point and go back to the diet programs or vitamin shops that sell “healthy ways to diet” is just as addictive.
But, for a person like me, someone who will go the distance to be thin enough and never stop. And every diet there is or that comes out, my mind immediately thinks…maybe if I try this and that, then the cycle of being afraid to eat, the fear of gaining weight and not being good enough if I don’t weigh less…all of it throws me back into what will ultimately be my death warrant!
So basically, from my point of view, as a recovering anorexic…this industry is helping us kill ourselves for money!!