In the very beginning stages of my healing process, I was really preoccupied with thinking about how I was eating.
The idea of letting go of labeling myself as a “paleo” eater or a “vegan” eater or a “bodybuilding” eater was a foreign concept to me that just didn’t sit right.
I kept reading anti-dieting activists’ blogs trying to find hidden slip-ups in their posts that would lead me to discover how they ate.
“Okay, I know she is against dieting but what is she, really? Vegan? She’s got to be something!” I would think to myself.
“Okay her Instagram feed shows a caramel latte last Thursday. Maybe she counts her macros. Or maybe this was a cheat meal. Yeah, I bet she follows a similar plan to that.” I would obsessively wonder.
It’s as if I just couldn’t let it go.
I couldn’t let go of the idea that you do not need to label yourself as an eater. I couldn’t believe that you could just be an eater without attaching some specifics to it.
I couldn’t understand this until a radical idea popped into my head.
I will admit, I don’t necessarily think about the following concept anymore because I could give two sh*** what people think of the way I eat, but at the beginning of my recovery journey this helped a lot.
And so what is this radical concept you ask?
Every diet activist, every nutrition researcher, every author, every “fitness” guru out there, they are all promoting a way of eating that is the only way to eat because in their eyes, it’s the absolute best. Right?
If that’s true, then literally everything works.
If you’re in the initial stages of breaking free from restrictive and scheduled eating, your food intake might be all over the place in variety, calories, and timing and you may be breaking all of the different food rules you once believed were law.
Well guess what?
You ate fifteen times more fruit than you ever have in your life yesterday? Well, fruitarians would say that you did the best thing you could ever do for your body.
Eat nothing but carbohydrates long into the night? Carb backloaders would say that you kicked butt with that strategy. Smart thinking!
Didn’t count your calories today? Every normal eater out there would say, “Welcome to paradise!”
Scarf down a huge plate of BBQ at brunch? Paleonites would unroll their ancient caveman scroll, listing thousands of reasons why meat is the key to a healthy, long life.
Have a couple pieces of cake this week? Macro-counters would exclaim, “Yes you can eat whatever you want and still be fit!”
You see, literally everything “works”.
There’s an oatmeal diet, a low carb diet, a high carb diet; a this diet, a that diet. There’s a freaking Twinkie diet! Whatever you just ate, I promise you there is somebody out there saying that it was the best choice.
This doesn’t give diets a license to exist, keep in mind. I still think all diets are ludicrous, BUT if you come from a dieting background and it’s hard to quit that mindset cold turkey, this should bring you comfort.
And if you’re struggling with orthorexia and you’re looking for the purest of foods out there, remember this: you began to believe that certain foods were the purest because somebody told you they were. Some magazine, doctor, article, documentary or Instagram post led you to believe that blah blah food is the best food out there, and for whatever reason that little nugget stuck with you and others disappeared.
I remember once hearing that store bought yogurt with fruit at the bottom is the worst thing you could eat because of the sugar; for some reason that stuck with me like a tick. I could not stop thinking that fruity yogurt was the devil for so long, until I was finally called out on this nonsense. I realized that logically, this cannot be true for many reasons. Some cultures thrive on yogurt loaded up with honey, berries and yes, granola! Another “ah ha” moment: a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Sure, different calories come from different macronutrients but it all comes down to calories in the end. Lastly, sugar serves tons of great purposes…and fruit sugar is one of the best kinds!
Every time I have another nonsense food belief that I realize has been lingering around, I go through this same process.
For some people, it may not help all that much to realize that “everything works” because you want to take your focus off of food completely. But if you’re like me, this simple reminder may bring you some comfort, especially if you’re just starting this journey.
It’s hard enough to stop caring about food so much, but it’s very difficult to stop cold turkey. Try this out today, and remember next time you reach for something to eat, somebody out there says it’s the best thing you could possibly put in your body.
Why obsess over one thing being better than another when you now know that’s completely subjective anyways?