Remember, you are worth more than a number on the scale or how you look. Spread self-acceptance, positivity, and love for our bodies instead of hate! ❤
Hello again! This is a bit of an impromptu post. I hadn’t been planning on talking about this quite yet, but being that it is a topic I am very passionate about, and that National Eating Disorder Awareness week was February 22-28, I thought what appropriate timing.
Disordered eating is more common than you may think it is, and it’s something that’s consistently being fueled by our society’s lofty goals of the ideal image of a man or woman. Poor self-esteem, negative relationships with body image, coming to loathe what we look like because we can’t fit into that size 0 skinny jean – these are all components that build the fire for eating disorders. What’s important to remember is that anyone could have disordered eating and they might not show it explicitly.
Another important thing to remember is that an eating disorder is not just nutrition. It has so much to do with psychology that more often than not a dietitian on an eating disorder case will also be working with a therapist/psychiatrist/what have you. But that doesn’t mean as a dietitian or nutrition student you can’t aim to stop the cycle of negativity, and to help others love and accept their bodies.
Initially, my interest in nutrition sprung from disordered eating tendencies. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, and I’m not saying that I had one because I don’t want to make light of how serious they can be. But, just because you aren’t diagnosed with an eating disorder doesn’t mean you don’t display tendencies. These tendencies lasted for about a year during my junior and senior year of high school. I firmly believe that you don’t have to have an eating disorder to be helped, especially if you’re struggling with tendencies that may spiral into something more severe.
So, yes, after an off-handed comment made about my body, I began restricting the foods I was eating and consistently exercising. I ate the same thing for breakfast (cereal) and the same thing for lunch (pb&j, 100-calorie pack snacks, vegetables/fruit) every single day. I would come home and pound it out on the treadmill. Even during track season, after my track workout I would still come home and continue to workout. I had a schedule, and I hated getting thrown off of it. Friends and schoolmates noticed that I was “tiny”. My mother and grandmother began to think I was too thin. During prom pictures other mothers made comments to mine about how thin I was. But, I relished it. I wanted to be thought of as tiny. For so long I compared myself to everyone else and how they looked, it was almost like I was trying to achieve being the smallest person. It wasn’t until afterwards that I understood what was going on. Aside from that first off-handed comment, I have one very prominent memory from this period. During prom dress shopping I wasn’t originally going to get the dress I ended up wearing because I could see a little bit of armpit fat. This was around my thinnest point, and I remember showing my friends and their mothers the dress and saying why I wasn’t going to get it and everyone thought I was crazy because I was nit-picking myself. (It was the best choice to get the dress by the way – I loved it)
I didn’t exactly intend to make this post a “tell-all” post, but the important part is that despite struggling during my undergraduate years with my body image and self-esteem, I have come out of this journey with acceptance of my appearance. It’s taken me probably until the past year or so to be comfortable with how I look and be confident about it. There are certainly days where I am not a fan of how I look, but what’s most important to me now is being healthy and feeling good on the inside.
So, as I mentioned this is where my interest in nutrition first developed. It wasn’t until last year that I fostered it and met with a few dietitians who work specifically with eating disorders. I helped plan a benefit concert for a local outpatient program serving adolescents with eating disorders during NEDA Week 2014. I volunteered last year with a Pilates instructor who was also a dietitian and we focused in on eating disorders in the work I did for her since that was where my interests were at the time. As time has gone on, though I’ve decided to pursue different interests in the realm of nutrition, it’s still a topic that I am very passionate about.
On the whole, this society is one that needs to embrace the idea of individuality and how there is no cookie-cutter image of the “perfect body”. Perfection does not exist, it is a social construct. There needs to be diversity in the images that are presented through any type of media; a message that all body types and appearances are beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you look like a Victoria’s Secret model, as long as you are healthy in both mind and body then that is what you should strive for. Your body is strong. Just think of all of the things it does for you on a daily basis. Anatomy has definitely allowed me to appreciate everything that goes on without me even noticing. I applaud different companies that are beginning to present this image because they’ve realized that there is a problem in the way society is working. There needs to be more love and more acceptance of all shapes and sizes, and less hatred, body-shaming, and idolization of bodies that are only attained through Photoshop or practices that are impractical for everyday life.
So, if you are with me, then bring this self-love, this positivity into your life. Be confident. It doesn’t matter what shape and size you are. The number on the scale doesn’t matter. Live to be the healthiest you can be. Appreciate your body for what it is, and if there are things you wish to change do it in such a way that brings you to a healthier, more positive place 🙂