Normalizing eating disorder behaviour?

Something i have seen alot of online in recent years…. is a normalizing of certain behaviour, which in my opinion is not the healthiest of behaviour.

Sometimes people leave comments encouraging certain behaviour… and it leaves me wondering, what effect does that comment have on the person who wrote the caption. I am sure people don’t mean anything bad with their comments or support, but just like when you praise someone for losing weight and looking good when they have an eating disorder, it is not something positive and instead just encourages the sick behaviour.

Ex… someone really active writes “i just can’t sit still, so restless and always doing things”. And someone comments, “that’s ok.. it’s not good to sit still anyway.”

There is also the normalizing of counting calories and macros of your food, not to mention the normalizing of “cheat days”. In my opinion… none of that should be normal. I do understand that some people need to maybe count calories or track portion sizes to understand what regular portions are. But it shouldn’t be something you always do. And it definitely shouldn’t be something that gives you anxiety. Ex. if you eat more than what you had thought/planned. If it is just from time to time then it is no big deal.

Also the whole, “cheatday”, where you have a day where you specifically eat all the foods you haven’t allowed yourself during the week, or some people just have a “cheat meal”. I can understand that this works for some people, but i don’t like that it is called “cheat”… because food and eating isn’t cheating. Also if you have a healthy balanced diet, you shouldn’t have to “cheat” or feel like you are eating something “Bad/wrong”, because no food is bad or wrong…. just everything in moderation. Not to mention, cheat days or cheat meals can spiral out of control and you can end up eating even if aren’t hungry/don’t want it… just because you know you won’t be able to eat the food again until a week… or whenever the next planned cheat day is.

Also talking about guilt and compensation after food… this is something i have heard from “regular” people. Talking about having to go for an extra long run or eat less the next day to compensate for eating a certain food. Or when people talk about feeling guilty after eating certain foods, but the food is so delicious so they can’t help it.

None of that sounds particularly balanced to me… but many don’t even reflect on it. When people talk about feeling guilty or compensating after food, i usually call them out on it. Granted, it doesn’t happen so often.. but when it does, i question them. I ask them why they feel guilty or feel the need to compensate. Or i remind them that food is just food and shouldn’t be something to feel guilty over.

Sometimes it feels like it is just normal for people – especially women – to feel guilty after eating. Or to always be on a fad diet or trying to lose weight.

But that shouldn’t be normal or normalized.

I definitely think people need to be aware of how they talk about food, i have written a post on my previous blog: How people talk about food which i think is a good read. But also… to remind you to be aware of how people talk about food. To not let other peoples negative talk about food effect you… not to mention, call people out on it. Ask them why they said what they did if they ex. said something negative about food.

Ex, if someone says…. “don’t eat bread it will make you fat” (which is something i have heard)… ask that person why? Why they said what they did…. most people don’t know why they said what they did, or they will say “i read it somewhere” or “this person said it” or “because gluten is bad for you”….. ask their sources in that case.

It’s like coaching… you get a  person to reflect on what they say and make them question/more aware of their actions or what they say.

Let’s stop normalizing an unhealthy relationship with food. Don’t accept things, and instead question someone if they are showing unhealthy behaviours.

*Of course, as mentioned… some people may need to track their food for a period in their life, or ex. if someone has an illness they may need to track to make sure that they are eating enough/or eating to lose weight if that is what they need to. So i am not saying anything about that…. but just the majority of people who fall into the trap of micromanaging food when it is not necessary and the way people talk about food in a negative manner.

Another post i have written: The way we talk about food – giving food the power to control our emotions

One Comment Add yours

  1. Frances says:

    Thank you for this post! As I work on recovering, I’m becoming increasingly aware of how society has normalized disordered eating behaviors. We’re constantly being inundated with messages that food needs to be “earned,” and these messages make it difficult to abandon disordered though patterns and behaviors because they feel like “what we’re supposed to do to be healthy.” I really appreciate what you wrote about compensation and sitting still . . . I’m struggling with the urge to compensate for eating, and I often find myself wanting to stand up and move around after every meal, which makes it hard to do things like watch a movie or study or write. But your posts help inspire and encourage me to break free of and recognize disordered motivations. Thank you so much!


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