Okay, body image. In Australia, 4% of the population has an eating disorder. That is 913,986 people. 64% of these are girls and 36% are boys. These are people who were diagnosed by a medical practitioner. It is estimated that 20% of females have an undiagnosed eating disorder. Cue, me. I spent ages 16-19 with an eating disorder. I was never ridiculously skinny and never became unwell, but mentally it was awful and I pushed myself to extremes that I shouldn’t have. I never went to the doctors and I never confronted my family, rather they never confronted me.
But back then, it wasn’t something I ever addressed as an eating disorder; I would do all sorts of ridiculous diets and research on forums for losing weight. Looking back it is sad to realise what I was doing to myself and the long lasting damage it has done to me. It took me a long time to stop thinking and eating with ‘eating disorder eyes.’ Even now I get pangs of guilt when drinking a pint of beer.
So this blog post is here to help those, similar to me. I want to have an open conversation about body image and where the problem stems from. By looking at the problems and being able to solve them I hope it can help anyone who feels that their life is paved by the food that they are/aren’t allowed to eat.
There are many different diets and I have done so many extreme diets, I shan’t name them as I don’t want to give ‘pointers’ but I had been doing them all for a long time. Even my veganism ‘diet’ began as a different way for me to control and minimise what I was allowed to eat. Then I went to high carb low fat, which I did very recently until I realised it was making me crazy. I was always monitoring what I was eating. It took me a while to realise what I was doing and I now just eat ‘normally.’
By normally, I mean healthy. I am still vegan and I am on this path as a lifestyle, not a diet, which is very important to address. You need to not diet. Diets are not helpful in any manner. Eat what you want. Eat the cake. Don’t eat the cake for every meal but you can eat it occasionally. If you want pancakes for breakfast, eat the pancakes. Food is not the enemy here, it is your mindset.
You need a healthy mindset to allow yourself to eat what you need and want. If you are craving chocolate and you haven’t eaten it in the past week then go for it. By giving yourself allowances to eat unhealthy food it makes for a healthier mindset. You need food to survive. Without food you cannot exist. ‘If you never eat, you’ll never grow.’ This lyric highlighted the most obvious thing to me. I have to eat. Making my body try and live of 500 calories a day is not healthy. We all want to grow. We all NEED to grow. Physically and mentally. If you think you are overweight then try and eat in a healthier manner. By putting your body through diets it confuses your metabolism and consequently makes you gain weight, especially if you slip off a restrictive diet you were following. Fill your plate with veggies, every colour and eat nuts. Don’t be afraid of them because they are fatty. You need all kinds of food to build yourself up.
Foods to not fear
Carbs. So many diets tell you to avoid carbs but carbohydrates are what give you the most energy. By eating carbs you are giving your body raw fuel to burn and live off. High carb low fat diet was great for my mindset. I realised that carbohydrates are necessary and also made me feel great. But I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life fearing fat. There needs to be a balance.
Fat. Fat is another thing you are told to avoid. People don’t eat nuts or avocados for fear of the fat. But this fat is so good and healthy for you. It isn’t fat like from ice cream. It is natural. I have a rule that if nature grew it, it is good for you.
Sugar. Another thing that people fear. I know people who think that fruit makes you fat which is the most ridiculous thing ever. There are two kinds of sugar; sucrose and fructose. Sucrose is what you will find in chocolate bars and you body finds harder to process. The body realises excess insulin which leads to fat being stored. Fructose is what is in plants, because it is a natural sugar your body knows exactly what to do with it and processes it perfectly.
There are so many perfect celebrities I used to idolise to ‘get skinny.’ I would have their pictures screenshotted on my phone that I could look as ‘motivation’. But there are a few things you have to realise about famous people and their bodies. 1. Most of the time it is photoshop. 2. It is literally their job to be skinny. How many bigger actresses are there? A whole lot less then there are skinny. Instead of wanting to look like a certain someone, or even hating someone who you regard as prettier than you, you have to change the way you see them. Admire them. Be inspired by what they say. Not by how they look. The prettiest person could have the ugliest personality. Cliché? Sure. But you don’t want to aspire to be someone who other than being pretty, sucks.
Exercise is tricky, especially if you are already battling eating food. You have to strike a perfect balance when it comes to exercising. Do not over exercise. 30 minutes to an hour for four days a week is enough for most people. If you can exercise without over exercising then go for it. Joining the gym helped me eat a lot more food because I got hungry from exercise. I began to form a mindset where I didn’t care about my weight and stopped weighing myself entirely. I started to notice how my body felt and how I felt. Exercising made me feel great with my body. I’ll say it again, do not over exercise. If you are working out you need to make sure you fuel yourself correctly.
I hope highlighting these points shows how you can readjust your mindset. If you ever feel like you aren’t enough, not skinny enough, or pretty enough you should remember that you are. You need to build up your self worth. Learn to love yourself. Accept yourself. Something I noticed is that I was never skinny enough. By changing the way I looked at myself I started to like ME. I started looking in the mirror and liking what I saw. I went from hating my stomach to wearing crop tops because my favourite part of me was my stomach.
Here are some great YouTubers that inspired me to a healthy lifestyle not dictated by food that will or won’t make me fat.
Essena O’Neil (unfortunately she no longer does YouTube videos, however, you can find her videos on YouTube)
Feel free to comment below any personal experiences you had down below and what helped/is helping you. A lot of research into food and learning what my body needed helped me a lot. Thank you for reading, I hope you find this blog post useful. This is the forth post of TMI Talk, the previous were: sexuality, contraception and menstrual cup.