Monday, 14 March 2016

Eating isn't cheating.

When I was a teenager, I was brilliant at pretending to have eaten. It was probably my biggest talent, drawing on my habit for dramatics and my complete shame of who I was and where I was going. That's pretty sad, no? I was ill and I didn't understand the long term ramifications of allowing these lies to grow; I was determined to allow my eating disorder to exist tucked away within me, fearful that if it was common knowledge it could somehow be snatched away from me.

I needed shame to perpetuate the lies, and the lies to perpetuate the disorder, and I needed the disorder to perpetuate the idea that I could be destroyed. And there was a lot of reassurance in the idea of a violent, drawn out, painful end.

I'm not alone in this, secrecy is a pretty integral part of any ED. For some, it's a shame of how much they've eaten, for others it's shame at how little. Over the years, there have been times when I've lied and said I've eaten more than I had, but there were also times in my bulimic periods when I lied and said I'd eaten less. The thing each lie had in common though was the ability to further push me into the illness.

But I don't think that this shame is exclusive to those with EDs. I think the reasoning and severity I'm speaking of might be, but the general concept of being ashamed of your calorific intake is common to a lot of people, especially women.

11% of those diagnosed with EDs are men and I'm not wanting to diminish their suffering or belittle them, but I'm willing to bet it's more the ladies I know in the general population who feel shame over having eaten too much or the 'wrong' food than the men. 

As women, we're taught that we should say we eat a lot of pizza and look like we only eat a lot of celery. We're meant to say we love food, but look like we hate it. We're meant say that we eat like a man, but look like we have the thighs of a child. 

It was always easy to lie about my intake, because it's always seemed like everybody- healthy or not- does it. And when people aren't doing that, they're justifying what they've eaten, again through shame: 'the diet starts tomorrow!' or 'it's ok I'm eating this, I missed dinner!' or 'I've been on my feet all day, I've earned this!' It's been programmed into us and that's pretty sad. 

Eating isn't cheating. Food is fuel, not something with a moral value attached. And you know what? There are days when we all go over our allotted 2000 calories, and that's ok. The world won't end if you eat an extra slice of cake. It's fine, and you're fine. An extra inch on your thighs is an extra inch to be loved and nothing at all to be ashamed of.

1 comment:

  1. I think we need to learn that food is not bad ... I wish I could understand where that came from... I remember when I was 12 and my ex step mother pinched my small tummy and told me I was fat... I was 5 feet 6 inches tall and I only weighed 107 pounds. We need to stop shaming each other like that. You are so wise Rebecca xox ♡♡