Here is another post from my friend Kelly Boaz. Her latest post all about Emotional Eating was a great success and we received wonderful feedback. I wanted her to write more about this topic, so here she is for another post writing about why all food is good food!
All Food Is Good Food
When I was first recovering from anorexia, I would only eat food that I cooked. I wasn’t counting calories anymore, but I needed control over every ingredient I ate. It got to the point where I actually took my own food in Tupperware containers to Christmas dinner. While everyone else ate turkey and stuffing, I ate quinoa salad and chickpeas. Sure, I was eating enough, but I certainly wasn’t free. I had just traded anorexia for orthorexia – a preoccupation with healthy eating.
I know, I know – that doesn’t sound too bad. Doesn’t everyone want to eat healthier? But when healthy eating becomes an obsession, it can actually have the opposite effect.
Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:
“Oh, I’m so bad. I shouldn’t have had that second helping of mashed potatoes.”
“I’m having a cheat day today. Back to the diet tomorrow!”
“I’ve been so good all week. I think I’ve earned this piece of pie!”
These phrases all seem harmless enough. I mean, they’re commonplace enough. We hear them at work, at school, on the bus, and from the people we love. But when we talk like this, we’re turning food into something it was never meant to be – a religion.
When we use phrases like “clean eating”, we are creating moral connotations around food. If these foods over here are clean and pure and good and right, then those foods over there are dirty and tainted and bad and wrong. Then, by extension, we feel dirty and wrong when we eat those foods.
To avoid feeling that way, we start to build rules and ideologies around food, and segregate ourselves. Without even realizing it, we’re shaming those around us who don’t practice our new food religion, and shaming ourselves when we “fall off the wagon”. The stress caused by that shame is worse for us than any “unclean” food we could have eaten.
And then what happens? When we fall off the wagon, we fall HARD. Because we’ve been depriving ourselves of the (quite frankly DELICIOUS) “bad” foods for so long, we don’t just eat one cookie, we eat the whole box. Or, we eat far more of the “healthy” substitute than we would have eaten if we’d just had the damn cookie we wanted in the first place. We start to believe that we just can’t trust ourselves around food, because we’ve never learned to live in balance.
Look, there is nothing wrong with wanting to eat foods that make our bodies feel good. In fact, it’s an imperative for our survival. The problem comes when we sacrifice our mental health in the name of physical health. We can never be truly healthy if our mental health is suffering.
If you find yourself struggling to break the rules you’ve created around food, you may have developed an eating disorder without realizing it. Challenge yourself to grab a cookie at a local bakery where you DON’T know all the ingredients. And, as always, if you’re struggling, reach out for help. You don’t have to be a slave to your food rules forever.
Some food is good for our physical health, and some food is good for our mental health. All food is good food.