So You Think About Food (A Lot)...Is That Healthy?
This isn't a new topic, at least not for me anyway. I struggled with body image and obsessive food thoughts for years, so when I read things like this or have conversations with insanely inspirational women on the topic (coming soon!), it strikes a chord. Women think about food more than they’d like to admit. But it’s not just food -- it’s exercise, the size of their thighs, how long they sat that day, and whether they drank enough water, took the right supplements, or ingested too much coffee...
They think about everything they’ve eaten so far that day, what they should eat later on, and what they should eat tomorrow. They think things like … I was bad today. I feel disgusting. I’ll be better tomorrow. I have to be. They calculate, conspire and criticize. And these thoughts of where, when, and how they should eat often take up a good portion of their brain space. When I say they, I of course do not mean every single woman out there -- as in an entire species -- but, rather, I am speaking to the common experience of women in society today who struggle with their body, their reflection, and their relationship with food. And when I say they I of course do mean me and the women that I have met throughout my lifetime. I'm talking about my close girlfriends, my family members, my amazing colleagues, and the other women in the wellness world that I have been blessed to meet. I'm talking about the women who explore topics of disordered eating all over the Internet, the women who read these pieces, and the women who so thoughtfully comment on them. I'm talking about the women that belong to my gym and stare at themselves in the mirror with shame: sucking in here, pinching there. And I'm talking about the women that mindlessly proclaim things like, I’m so proud of myself, I didn’t eat breakfast today!! -- to which we automatically and authentically respond, Ugh so jealous!, followed by the calculation of what we already ate on said day, and a feeling of regret...
Again, I could write pages and pages on this topic because it is one that I've shared a bed with for the better half of my life. But in attempt for us to stop talking in circles, I've boiled my thoughts down to one main, concise point: No, this chatter is not normal.
This form of self-hate and this constant, intoxicating, all-encompassing struggle is not normal. Yes, it’s normal in the sense that it’s so so common, and the last thing I would want anyone reading this to think is that they are crazy or disturbed for feeling negatively about their body or being obsessive about their food, because girl….oh girl! There is an army of strong, smart, and powerful women standing right beside you in this battle.
This form of self hate and struggle is not normal in the sense that it is not healthy.
It is not constructive. It is not okay. The rise in popularity of the wellness world coupled with the ease in which we are now able to share -- and over-share -- our feelings on social media channels has made it not only more acceptable but also more commonplace to openly discuss eating habits and body image. A lot of the stigma has dropped around disordered eating, and many of the barriers have been torn down so that fewer women are sitting at home alone feeling fat, scared, and alone. That is so important.
But the other side of this story is that women are starting to think that this obsession is normal. They think that it's okay. That all women feel this way, and it’s basically their birthright in being a woman! And...who doesn’t struggle? And then, before you know it, your best friend is telling you that she hasn’t eaten yet today and you’re automatically and authentically responding, Ugh jealous!, before feeling shitty about yourself all over again.
This idea that we, as women, all feel this way about our bodies bonds us together in a way that is, for lack of better word, sick. And the worst part is, it creates this environment where we make others feel comfortable saying things like I’M FAT, I’M FAT, I’M FAT out loud without very much self awareness of the self-destructive behavior that lies therein.
We make light of the obsession because we’re all in it together, and the result is twofold: 1) we perpetuate the hate, however unconsciously, laying out the carpet for our loved ones to strut those toxic thoughts out onto and into the Universe, and 2) we provide zero encouragement, incentive, or reason for our loved ones to change those thought patterns. Yes, talk about it. Yes, be open. Yes, be vocal and honest. And yes please, be compassionate and gentle with yourself and others. But please don’t throw your hands up in the face of obsessive compulsive food thoughts, over-exercise patterns and body hate.
There is light on the other side of this sweet, sweet rainbow, and that light tastes, looks, and feels delicious. While I in no way shape or form can claim to be 1000% void of self-criticism, food obsessions, and body struggles (old habits die HARD), I can tell you that food no longer takes over my thoughts, determines my plans, nor sucks every ounce of energy right out of me. I can tell you that you are not destined to have your entire life determined by food simply because you are a woman. I can tell you that it is not your birthright. And, that yes, actually, you do deserve to eat breakfast everyday and feel SEXY about it.
* * *Women think about food more than they’d like to admit. But it’s not just food. It’s how efficient they were at work that day, how they made their loved ones feel, and the impact they're making on the world. Here's to allowing this to bond us together. You are more than just a body -- you are a warm, bright, brilliantly expansive soul having a human experience in this temporary, beautiful, very physical and competent body that is keeping you safe. You are a sharer, creator, and inspirational lover. Let's change the conversation; both in our minds and with one another. Can you imagine what literal mountains women will uproot and twirl around once we do?