Is It Healthy Eating Or An Eating Disorder?

Is It Healthy Eating Or An Eating Disorder?

We all ask the question, “Why is something that feels so good or tastes so good, so bad for you?” It is in the way we label foods good and bad that can get us into trouble. A dietician once had me tell her every “bad” food I could think of. She sat there in a confident way and she debunked each of them. I sat there defeated and called into question each of these notions I’ve held in high regard for so long. I felt I had been misled, and worse, reinforced it by misleading myself.

The truth is there are no such foods as “good” or “bad”. We are not good or bad if we eat certain foods either. Go ahead and discredit each of those myths. We are not bad if we choose to have a cookie or choose to enjoy cake at a wedding. We are not bad if we buy the pizza for lunch, instead of the salad. Many of us inflict shame upon ourselves through our dietary selections.

What we get to do instead is recognize that there is no food out there to harm us and no one brownie is the bane of our existence. Food is there to keep us going, to give us fuel for the day. Food, in its inherent nature, has no more meaning than to give us what we need to keep functioning. We can choose to show food in its true light to disprove the myth that any one food group is bad.

In our humanness, we have a wide array of emotions. These emotions challenge throughout our days. We can start off the day in a “good” mood, full of energy, happiness and contentment for what this day will bring us. We can end the day in a “bad” mood, lethargic and apathetic about how the day turned out. Just as it is for food, we are the ones who choose to label our experiences.

Much to my dismay, food is interconnected to our emotions. When we are happy and excited, we are enjoying the chips and salsa at a party. Albeit, it is not the entree, I know I am not the only one who feels full before the main course even arrives. When we are sad and down, we may still eat chips and salsa, but it is to numb or distract ourselves from the truth of what is going on.

By now, I am sure you are picking up the pattern. How can we tell the difference between healthy and disordered eating? We can start by understanding what we think of food and what we tell ourselves when we are eating.

We must get honest and transparent with ourselves.

Negative thought patterns are the origin of eating disorders, particularly, when they are emotionally charged. Emotions can feed us false information; they tend to echo the past.

Example: When you were younger you may have had someone you held in high regard make a comment to you that made a mark. It hurt to hear myself being called fat or ugly. When that mark is touched on, we try to quickly bandage it to prevent any further damage.

Ironically, it does just that. We use eating disorders or other addictions in an attempt to shoot down the flames.

When life happens, as it will, how we cope and respond to any situation is up to us. A big sign to tell if our eating is disordered or healthy is to check in with our motives behind the behaviors. I can ask myself what is charging this thought or behavior.

Our intentions behind our actions usually give away the secrets to what’s fueling the behavior.

You can also notice the need that food may be fulfilling for you. The need could be for nutrients or it could be for control. There is comfort found in food, but it may exceed what level of comfort we get from food in a healthy manner. We have all heard moderation in moderation, even moderation. We get to allow ourselves healthy foods with the intention of fueling ourselves, and be able to treat ourselves on occasion.

Without constraint, fear, or contempt for ourselves, we can see that we are, in fact, eating healthy. With self-acceptance and compassion, we can focus on the gratitude we have for food, rather than making it the enemy. When we can operate this way, we can see the line between disordered and healthy eating becoming larger. We can regain our sense of self to be able to have a positive relationship with food.

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