Water, tea, broccoli…I’ve used them all to advance my eating disorder. Have you?
There’s a helluva lot of health advice out there, and some of it is even pretty good. Drinking lots of water, for instance — I bet a lot of people are chronically under-hydrated. But when you restrict your food intake and activate that part of the brain where food insanity lurks, everything in your whole life becomes diet-related. Healthy life choices become punishments. You have no conscious choice but to see everything around you through a lens of DIET.
Here are just a few examples from my own life: what the nutritionists say vs. what my food insanity heard:
- “Drink lots of water. Sometimes you mistake hunger for thirst.” = “Hunger is just a trick of the mind. I have to trick it back by chugging water all day every day until my stomach hurts.”
- “Eating small meals throughout the day is a smart way to control cravings.” = “Cravings are not real; if you ignore them they will go away. I will eat carefully portioned meals at carefully planned intervals to trick them. If I am hungry in between, well that’s just too damn bad.”
- “Green tea will help you lose weight while filling you up.” = “OMG green tea you are exactly what I have been looking for my entire life. I do not like the way you taste, like at all, but together we can rise above food as long as I keep sipping until I puke.”
- “Fiber is healthy and increases your feeling of fullness.” = “Feeling fuller on less food is the goal, and fiber will help me trick my stomach into thinking I’m not hungry. I will eat a whole pound of steamed broccoli even if I hate every second and it turns my intestines into a painful brick of insoluble despair.”
What do these all have in common? Tricks. Every dieter has at least a billion in her quiver. And when a diet trick doesn’t work, it’s your fault, isn’t it? Why don’t you have any willpower?!?!
Look. Willpower might be the force that keeps you trudging to work every day instead of staying in bed and watching Netflix, but it has zero point zero zero to do with food.
You cannot trick your body into breathing less. You cannot trick your body into eating less. It needs oxygen when it needs oxygen, and it needs calories when it need calories. You don’t get a vote. And that’s okay!
These days, I’m happy to say that vegetables and water and tea have become a lovely and treasured part of my life — but only after I won my sanity back. If you are living in a state of food insanity (read some signs of disordered eating here), take extreme care with health advice to ensure it doesn’t become just another dieting tactic.