Today marks the beginning of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. While it’s not the funniest or most entertaining topic to write about, it is an important one, and one that I can relate to.
I don’t have an eating disorder in the clinical sense of the word. I don’t starve myself to lose weight and I don’t purge after eating. But I do have eating issues. I talked last week about how much I love food and eating. I made light of it at the time but got real serious about just how bad my diet has been when I found myself in another night of pain and agony in the bathroom on Friday. See, while eating so much junk food hasn’t caused me to gain weight, it has caused other issues. My energy levels have been low, I’ve felt tired all week, I have a hard time concentrating, and my regularity flew out the window causing Friday night’s incident.
In my blog last Monday about my food habits, I mentioned that I needed some kind of goal or catalyst to eat right. That was brought up again during lunch this week with friends. Someone mentioned having a light bulb moment a few years ago and realizing then that she needed to do something about her weight and eating habits. Well Friday night was my light bulb moment. As I sat on the toilet waiting for the next wave of cramps and pain to come I thought to myself, “I’m really getting tired of this. Why is my body going through this cycle again?” It was then that I realized it wasn’t food poisoning or salmonella or the flu causing me such discomfort – it was my own choices.
We’re supposed to eat for fuel and nutrients, plain and simple. It’s not for entertainment, therapy or sport, but that’s how our society has made it out to be. Last week my diet consisted of cookies, cakes, donuts, bagels, french fries, cheeseburgers, Cheetos, candy, hash browns and various other forms of starch and sugar. We’re supposed to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day right? I probably had 5 all week. No wonder I felt like crap! I ate all that stuff because I was stressed and it was easy and convenient.
Well no more. The light bulb went off on Friday and I realized that I need to change my ways of eating not necessarily to lose weight but keep my body functioning properly. Heart disease runs in my family and if things don’t change, I’ll be headed down the same path as my dad and all his siblings. I started the change yesterday. I drank lots of fluids and tried to work in fruits and vegetables as much as possible. I don’t think I got my full 5 in, but it was a good start. I also limited my junk food to one item. I knew we were going to be celebrating my nephew’s birthday in the evening so I didn’t have any sweets until the cake was served that night. And you know what? It really wasn’t that hard. It helped that the memory (and discomfort) were still fresh in my mind from Friday night. As the days go on it will probably be harder before it becomes a habit, but I can do it. I have to.
Not only does NEDA week focus on eating, it also focuses on body image. So many young girls out there are trying to make themselves look like the super models and celebrities they see on TV. How sad is it that kids are so worried about how they look that they stop being kids? I personally didn’t start becoming self conscious of my looks until high school but the age is getting younger and younger. I over heard an elementary school girl ask her mom at Kohl’s one time if the jeans she was trying on made her look fat. The mom said no in one breath but in the next, said that they should probably hit the gym when they were done shopping.
We all need to focus on loving ourselves for who we are rather than hating the image we see in the mirror. As Caitlyn from Operation Beautiful says, “WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough… just the way you are!”
I encourage everyone to use this week to take a close look at yourself. What are you doing to sabotage your self? Do your eating habits need to change? Does your negative self-talk need to stop? Is there a young girl or boy in your life who you see going down a wrong path that you could help? Whatever it is, do it this week. And keep doing it.
This afternoon I’m participating in the local NEDA Week Walk. Instead of charging us an entry fee, participants are encouraged to bring clothing items to donate. I used this as an opportunity to go through my closet and pull out the items that cause me to feel bad about myself. The dress that I try on from time to time and then promptly take off because I feel fat in it. The shirt that is just a little too tight and shows all the wrong things. I don’t need these items in my closet taunting me and someone else could use them and look fabulous.
My new goal is not to lose weight or find that perfect number on the scale, but rather to find healthy ways to fuel my body and mind. I am beautiful and I can do this. So can you.
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