I don’t do dieting any longer, in any form. Of course I believe in regulation and moderation — which is much easier and less stressful than any form of dieting (for me, at least) — but they are easier said than done. And when you realize that you’re starting to strand your ship on the rocks of Eating Disorder Bay, it’s really important to get help before you get stuck.
I have a passive-aggressive history with food, but it’s primarily aggressive. When I lose weight, I lose 25-30 pounds; when I gain weight, I gain 25-30 pounds, if not more. I stand at around 5’7″ and at any given time, my weight can be anywhere from 118 to 155. I’ve never stayed at a consistent weight for longer than 10 months. This is because I’ve had a lot of weight issues, body image issues and eating problems that have led to yo-yo patterns with my size and an ever-expanding (out of necessity, not just desire) wardrobe.
Long story short: For close to a decade, I had an eating disorder. It damaged my body in several ways, many of which are permanent, and it altered the way I think about food, weight, relationships and my own image. It wasn’t planned or plotted out; in fact, for most of those years, I was truly positive I was in control. I’d have moments of clarity where I’d realize I was destroying myself and losing weight wasn’t worth it, but those were few and far between. Now, though, I’ve worked for a long time on making my brain keep track of my thoughts so I can avoid relapsing once again. This has led me to be a lot more aware of warning signs in myself and with other people.
But it’s not. And even if you cannot help but believe that your value is based on appearance — I still have trouble not placing value on my own, I admit — it’s significant to recognize that many of the side effects of over-dieting and eating disorders can cause health problems that affect your appearance in addition to your insides. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your appearance?
- Do you get angry with yourself when you “slip up” and eat something unhealthy?
- Do you classify all foods in categories of either good or bad?
- Would your day get worse if you weigh more today than yesterday?
- Do you think your life would get better if you lost weight?
- Have you ever thrown up, used laxatives, exercised excessively or otherwise purged when you’ve eaten unhealthily?
- Do you feel guilty when you eat?
- Do your eating habits make you tired, depressed or weak?
If you answered “yes” to any of those, just reflect for a few minutes on why.
I know this article won’t help everyone who reads it and I know that eating disorders aren’t well within most people’s control (that’s why they’re called “disorders”), but if any of this rings true with you and you feel like you might want to explore more on this topic with somebody who just knows about it, feel free to let me know. If you want recommendations of places to go for professional help, I can find those out for you, too! Sometimes we all need a little bit, or a lot, of real assistance with our problems, and that’s okay and often necessary to recover.
Only 1 out of 10 people with eating disorders receives treatment despite it being the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents. But if you start realizing you might need help, I can tell you that it’s often easier to change your ways the faster you recognize that they’re harmful. Either way, the most important thing is to talk about it. Even if it’s just to yourself (if you’re like me and fairly crazy, this won’t be too abnormal), getting your feelings out there is incredibly important to recovery. I write about eating disorders and body image quite a bit because I think about those topics all the time, and pretending I don’t would be like lying about what’s important to me.
No matter what makeup you wear or hair style you do or clothes you put on, it’s so important to treat your body right. Looking good will never be worth feeling terrible, I promise. When I was 16 or 17 and in a bit of a relapse, I made this for myself and stuck it on my wall to remind myself each day that it could get better, that I was worth it and that what I saw wasn’t a representative of my value as a person. So now, here it is for you all (because it’s true!)
Lovelies, do you have anything to discuss regarding eating issues, disorders or body image? Share it with us!