In case you were wondering, today is International No Diet Day.
Warning: triggers ahead.
I am so angry.
I am so angry, and sick to my stomach. I’m sick and tired of ED. I’m sick and tired of disordered eating and triggers and anxiety, and misinformation and being lied to by the media and the government and the voice in my head.
I am sick and tired of hearing the same nutritional advice. I’m sick and tired of hearing about diets on the morning news or the covers of magazines or the Dr. Oz show or on Pinterest. If one more person says she’s going on a diet or needs to lose weight or feels fat I’m going to scream.
And I am sick and tired of holding my tongue. It’s a trigger, we have to love ourselves, there are no bad foods, etc. Etc.
Guess what? I don’t care. I have to say this, because sitting in silence is doing a service to no one. Not you. Not me.
Do you know what happened on Friday? I ran into my neighbor on his way home from a run. We chatted for a moment about health and fitness, as we often do. And I mentioned that I missed being able to workout. He asked, “What are your fitness goals?” And before I could stop myself, before I could process what the ED in my head was about to say, before I could answer something sane and right and healthy, I answered, “To not feel fat anymore.”
That came out of my mouth.
The worst kind of word vomit–the kind filled with the bile of self-hate. For no reason. I have no reason. I don’t look like I used to when I was sick. Good. I don’t look like I looked when I first started going Paleo. Fine. But I am not “fat.”
“Fat” is what you put in your coffee to make it bulletproof. “Fat” is what helps my body manufacture the cholesterol that will someday help me make the right amount of sex hormones again. “Fat” is not a thing that should be used to define a person.
I spoke with an obese woman the other night. She was beautiful, but unhealthy, stuck living in the self-definition of “fat.” She has been through therapy and recovery, through nutrition programs and every diet on the planet. She was angry and caught in her addiction, using the idea that “there is no bad food”* to justify the fact that she wasn’t at rock bottom and ready to change. She’s right. There is no bad food. There’s only food, but the problem is, we’ve been lied to about what food is.
How can she recover if she thinks that eating real food is a diet and eating diet foods will make her healthy?
I am so angry I could scream.
On the flip side, I hear my athletic, thin, fit, etc. friends cry out for help–close to rock bottom but not ready to change–when eating real food and exercising it away becomes their defense against the imagined barrage of life-ruining calorie monsters that are hiding behind doors, threatening to jump out and scare their muscles into cellulite. And they use the idea that “exercise is healthy” and “real food supports exercise goals” to justify the fact that they’re not ready to change. And they’re right. Exercise is healthy and real food supports exercise goals–but they’re more concerned with the aesthetic ramification of exercise goals that they’re petrified of gaining an ounce or losing the oft-worshipped six-pack.
I’m sick to my stomach because I know what it feels like to be one of them. I am one of them. I fight the imaginary calorie monsters every time I walk into my kitchen. Every time I limp into the gym. Every time I read a blog that says that calories don’t matter/calories do matter/look at pictures of what I ate (or didn’t eat) today. Every time. Every. Time.
I’m tired of pretending that recovery is easy in a disordered world. Just because it’s average to eat poorly (without realizing it) and talk about diets and buy the latest trendy fat loss supplement doesn’t mean it’s normal.
I’m sick to my stomach and angry as hell because we ALL have an eating disorder.
Let me say this again: we all have an eating disorder.
Even those of you who haven’t made it into the DSM-IV. Who haven’t started obsessively counting, who don’t have body dysmorphia, who haven’t nearly killed yourselves with starvation or bingeing or purging or exercise or overweight.
Do you shop the aisles at the grocery store? Have you ever said the words “I should go on a diet?” Have you ever bought a supplement, done a cleanse, believed the food pyramid or MyPlate, eaten fast food because whatever I’m a fatty ha ha ha? We are a nation of disordered eaters.
We feel guilty for what we eat. We feel guilty for not working out hard enough to make up for what we ate. We feel guilty for ordering the french fries when our friend ordered the salad–please take some–and deprived when we’re the friend who ordered the salad–I hope she offers some of her fries. We’re so addicted to sugar that we think the problem is the size of our soda cups, not the soda inside. We read articles that demonize fat, demonize animal protein, demonize this that or the other food because there’s an agenda behind selling a diet or lifestyle or mindset or product.
We follow the asinine diets that people pin on Pinterest and expect to suddenly look like fitness models in three days and then go back to eating wheat, sugar, and processed foods like it was no big deal. We think that food equals looks equals worth. Because that is our idea of “healthy.”
You don’t have to become anorexic to have an eating disorder. We HAVE to change our idea of what healthy is. Healthy isn’t about restricting calories or working out to “make up” for the calories we do eat. Healthy isn’t being able to eat whatever the hell you want and not care about the ramifications. Healthy isn’t worrying yourself sick over the way your food makes you look in your skinny jeans.
We are not healthy. We are not recovered. We don’t even know we need recovery. We just follow the next diet plan in Shape magazine or order another round at Taco Bell and hope.
I wish I had more to offer today, but I am exhausted. I’m exhausted by the life that ED has stolen from me. I’m exhausted from the anxiety of having to be around people while they talk about food, eat food, burn off food.
I’m exhausted by the fact that I have to justify wanting to be a normal eater, not an average eater.
I want to be able to go out with my friends without being questioned, without having to ask for substitutions, without having to hope no one will notice that I ate beforehand. I want to be able to go out with my friends and not hear about diets or calories or crossfit even. I want the life that ED stole from me 13 years ago, the life that ED is slowly stealing from everyone I know, everyone with a “What I Ate Wednesday” feature on her blog, every stranger I overhear at Starbucks…
I’m angry because I lost 13 years to ED.
I’m angry because I let myself lose those years.
I’m angry because I can’t stop my friends and family and loved ones from losing time to ED.
I’m angry because people who need to be aware of calories aren’t, and the people who need to stop counting them won’t.
I’m angry because #fitspiration.
I’m angry because the phrase “health food” exists.
I’m angry at having to be angry about any of this.
I’m sorry for the rant, but it’s all I have in me today:
I want to stop being angry.
I want ED to go away.
I want to recover.
I want to find normal.
And I want that for all of you, whether you’ve looked ED in the eye or not. Because he’s out there, and I don’t want him to steal the life away from another beautiful soul.