Body Positivity & Disordered Eating

It is my intention with this blog, to bring clarity to a pervasive issue in the health and fitness industry, and from there to create the space necessary to uplift a truly enlightened paradigm of ‘self’. 

Let’s talk about disordered eating and body positivity. 

Most people view disordered eating as either severe food deprivation, binging, or binging and then bringing food back up. While those are examples of disordered eating, there are numerous examples of ‘diets’ that are created by snake oil salesmen touting themselves as ‘health experts’ in order to make quick money off us; that also fit the bill of disordered eating. Aside from their often unsustainable nature, many ‘diets’ also play off of outdated paradigms of what health, fitness, and beauty are.

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How can we identify disordered eating?

Let’s start by defining disordered. Disordered = disrupted systemic functioning or the disruption of healthy and normal functioning. From here, let’s look at what typical or normal eating is, and then what normal eating behaviors are.

Generally, ‘normal eating’ is healthy eating. Healthy eating includes moderate portions, the inclusion of a variety of foods, and eating whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are not processed. An easy way to identify whole food is to look at the food that lines the perimeter of the grocery store; e.g. veggies, fruits, meats. The foods that are on the shelves in the center can ‘live’ on the shelves because they are processed; processing food is a series of mechanical or chemical operations that change or preserve it. 

Typical, or healthy, eating behavior is identifying that you’re hungry and then seeking out the above mentioned healthy foods to satiate yourself.

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Some helpful questions to ask yourself when thinking about your relationship with food are:

  • Has the prospect of ‘eating healthy’ restrained you from joining a meal with friends or family?
  • Has the thought of what you’ll eat for your next meal taken up so much brain space that it stresses you out?
  • Have you ever felt shame about eating something?
  • Have you participated in extreme diets like juice ‘cleanses’, severely restricting the variety of foods you eat, substituting whole foods and meals with shakes or bars?

If the answer is yes, then you have either engaged in disordered eating or you are at risk for developing disordered eating habits.

That’s ok!  We all work with what we have, or what we know to be true at the time. Please remember, that the intention here is to bring light to these issues so that we can all work toward some sort of homeostasis, balance, and stability.

Why do we partake in these various forms of disordered eating?

I’m offering, that this stems from years of being told what health, fitness, and beauty are by corporations and grifters who make money off our fear, anxiety, and insecurity. Body positivity flies in the face of the current socioculturally-created ideas. Body positivity also supports the time-tested truths of general health that science has given us; i.e. healthy diet, regular movement and exercise, getting sun and outside exposure are integral for a happy and healthy life.

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What is body positivity?

I define it as identifying where you are at this very moment and accepting this reality. This is the ultimate expression of loving yourself. Once we can take this difficult step of accepting reality, then we truly have the power to address aspects that we would like to hone. Accepting that we may be partaking in behaviors that don’t truly support a happy life is the only way to truly address those behaviors.

There is nothing inherently wrong with our bodies or with food. Humans and our individual experiences in this life are so vastly complex that accepting one, singular ‘look’ of health, fitness, and beauty is massively shortsighted. Accepting where we are right now also isn’t the same as surrendering to where we are. We all have the power to affect our realities in some way.  Body positivity is empowering oneself, to steer away from disordered eating and disordered views of ourselves. 

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