Most of us don’t.
And by talking about it, I don’t mean: Do you go around saying things like “I am looking for something gluten free on this menu for no reason” or “I am just eating this apple now so I don’t eat other food” or “I can’t eat those tortilla chips because who knows if they fry other things in the same vat.” Some people in diet mode actually voice their beliefs out loud to people. It happens. And it is annoying. But no, that is not what I am talking about.
But what about this:
“well, yea I have been obsessed with food and dieting for a long long time. It is pretty messed up, so I am doing my best to try and let go an enjoy life.”
You probably don’t. Because it feels scary. And you feel like nobody will understand or care. Or people will encourage you away from this recovery. But my advice…. try to start.
When I was first on the Fuck It Diet, it was a solo journey. I was doing it alone, about 2 people knew what I was trying to do. My best friend, and my mom (I chose to tell my mom because she was SO wrapped up in my disordered eating and body image).
But slowly, slowly throughout the first year I started mentioning to friends when we were out to dinner.
“Yea, I have actually been extremely obsessed with food and body image for 10 years. I was absolutely miserable, and it was the way through which I saw the whole world. I am doing everything I can now to get away from it, and it is really exciting.”
Partially because I was so sure of what I was doing, and partially because I was just being honest in general, peoples’ responses were great. EVEN the people who were still in diet mode – even if they didn’t know it- had good responses. Because nobody thinks that seeing your whole life through the lens of screwed up body image and obsession with food is a good thing.
People would say things like:
“Wow I never knew! Good for you”
or “Oh man I have BEEN there. That is so great to hear”.
Or “I wish I could do that!” or “that is great, you seem so happy”
or “I have never experienced anything like that, but I am really glad to hear you are doing that”.
And do you know what? It was incredibly incredibly empowering. Not their responses, but the act of labeling the obsession and the fears as simple and silly.
“Can you believe I let that take over my life? I know, but I did. And it was awful, but I am actively going a different direction. It’s awesome! More wine?”
Honesty is POWER. You can distance yourself from your obsessions the more open, honest, and vulnerable you are.
Being obsessed with food and diet is a complete loner, solo shield. It is a way of distancing yourself, disengaging with life. Feeling like you aren’t good enough yet to be a part of the rest of the world. It is shutting yourself away in your tower of dieting until you are beautiful enough and ready to come back down to earth.
Stop that cycle. Speak up. Come back down to earth. Tell people what was going on and what you are still struggling with. Tell people what you value, what you want, and what you care about.
They will listen, and you deserve to be heard.
Yes, I have been talking about it. To remind myself where I’ve been and don’t need to go again and to dispell the fat, food and diet lies that even my grandsons have picked up.
I’ve had food issues since I was about 13. I am 51. At one point I was able to begin talking about it – when I got so tired of being afraid of food. I soon began to say like…”I used to have eating disorders”. Now, after a recent stint with paleo that triggered all those old issues, I realize it never really went completely away. I have to talk about it. It’s not about the food. Restricting, bingeing…they’re symptoms of the underlying issues. A LOT of us in this culture have these issues. Talking about them openly dispells their power over us.
honestly, I have tried talking about it. I try to find ways and situations where it doesn’t feel like I’m being “preachy”. Most of the time when I say that I’m just not focused on dieting and rather focused on being happy, I get met with replies like “Cool. I did that a while back – that’s what led me to need to diet now! haha” I try to explain it and people don’t get it. The “thin is awesome” and diet mentality has brain washed most people I know. So, I just eat to be happy and don’t talk about it. The less I talk, the less I feel like I’m being judged and the less I feel the urge to judge. Everyone is in their own different place in life, so it’s not for me to say what’s good or bad for them. Food and health seem to be as touchy as religion, so it’s very personal and from my experience, it can be such a passionate debate/discussion when brought up.
Preaching is never helpful! I am talking about sharing your experience, honestly, simply, factually, and that is that.
I definitely am in the same boat as you because my best friend is literally starving herself and does not even want to hear my experiences of loving where I am now. I really do not know how to help her out of this rut. She just had her second baby and will go ALL day without eating and will exercise on top of that. She makes it her duty to let me know how much she hates her body and I am just at a lost for words when she does this.
Your friend is probably also not as patient with her babies (and/or her husband) as she would like to be, and doesn’t know why. Perhaps tolerance for others is a topic you can subtly bring up (far distanced from an instance when she has kicked herself for her impatient behavior to one or both of her babies) as something you discovered once you started eating regularly.
Oh wow, AnnB! You are so right! She is always irritated with EVERYTHING her children do and is very short with her partner. I oftentimes would sit and try to figure out what made her go off the handle like that over something so small. She always thinks negative as well, which has been something that has been getting under my skin lately.
Surely if you watch television, you’ve seen the commercials for Snickers candy bars, where the person is behaving miserably as someone else totally unlike their self. Whiny, intolerant, negative Nelly/Ned. They may be trying to get you to buy a candy bar, but it’s the same for everyone who is hungry. Starvation studies prove it, and little kids will collapse into tears or tantrums when hungry. No different for adults. But those who purposely go hungry, refuse or cannot recognize it is the reason they are so miserable to be around. Perhaps your friend needs to be shown a copy of the symptoms of starvation from the starvation studies. They are facts that hold true for all sentient life. All the times I was intolerant with my children and husband, grandchildren, etc. are when I was hungry. Which has been far too often as I’m a person who was continually undereating or going hungry for decades until Matt Stone, this site, and others came along and showed me the immediate and progressive damage of dieting/starving.
I used to find it quite difficult to talk about my obsession with weight loss and struggles with body confidence it is tougher to talk about it face to face, I find blogging easier – http://suzanneday.wordpress.com/category/issues/body-image-blogging/
To start off, I love all your posts.
Now down to the topic, yes, I did tell people about it. Actually, my whole recovery started out with me voicing to friends and family that I did indeed have a problem. It was huge for me because my problems with eating were always characterized by secrecy. That’s why I felt that this time it should be shared. It should get out of the dark. Otherwise, it would just be a series of secretive binges or something. When I told people, it felt like I was safer in a way. I got an immense amount of support and everybody was saying ‘Yeah, you SHOULD eat everything! Enjoy life! You’ve been at this health food thing for too long.’ So I felt not only supported, but also…permitted in a way. Because before I felt this irrational fear that i would be looked down upon if I stopped being the ‘healthy girl’ which everyone praised me for. When that fear was out of the way, everything just became an inner healing process.
Last week I even put the ‘I’m on the fuck it “diet”‘ banner on my facebook cover photo. That was huge for me because I never share deep emotional stuff on facebook and food is really a deep emotional issue for me. So I feel that that was the ultimate sign of me being firm about all this. Like a long-term commitment to get better.
And by the way, all this reminds me of a TED talk I watched yesterday. It was given by this research scientist called Brené Brown. It was all about vulnerability and shame. I suggest you check it out. It especially rang in accord with what you said about honesty and vulnerability being about power.
I LOVE BRENE BROWN!
Also I’m so happy I am on the fuck it diet is your facebook banner!