Thoughts on diet culture lately

I have seen a lot of STUPID stuff on the internet lately. And by stupid stuff, I mean inherently disordered things cloaked in the world of recovery and diet culture.

Let’s face it: not everyone on this planet sees diet culture for what it is. Some people–even though they claim to have knowledge about food, nutrition, exercise, and health–lack an understanding of the severity of EDs/DE.

Last night, I saw a post from a dietitian on my timeline that was one of those stupid memes that basically showed how much 400 calories of chicken/beef fill up your stomach versus how 400 calories of veggies fill up your stomach.

Image result for 400 calories of vegetables

The reality–that this photo fails to mention–is that a combination of all three of the above pictured foods would leave you the most full, the most fueled, and the most ready to kick ass.

There are a few things wrong with this picture:

  1. chicken/beef are in no way unhealthy. They might be less “physically filling” than leafy greens, but they contain a lot of necessary nutrients. (HELLO, protein!!)
  2. everyone’s stomach would react different to the same meal. So you could feed me 400 calories of veggies and my friend Jessica 400 calories of veggies and it would fuel us in different ways. Our stomachs are different.
  3. these photos promote disordered habits! it continued the notion and the disordered thought that we should eat more of foods that fill us up because it will ultimately be less than if we ate something else.
  4. number 3 doesn’t even make sense because if you ate 400 calories of veggies you would need more food still because they won’t fuel you the same as a good mix of carbs, fats, proteins, and veggies would!

I could keep going, but you get the gist. I’ve seen a lot of posts that perpetuate these ideas, and it makes me even more sad to see them when they’re coming from dietitians.

And I get it, not everyone operates under a HAES perspective, and not everyone sees things the same way I do, but dietitians/nutritionists are some of the people who could really make a difference when it comes to the diet mentality and the disordered habits we see so often in our society.

WHICH leads me to another point.

So Logan’s best friend is currently in med school. He knows all about my recovery and we’ve had a lot of great conversations about diet culture, health in general, and peoples’ relationships with food and their bodies.

I can tend to be super *gung-ho* about EDs and diet culture in general, and sometimes I forget that not everyone sees diet culture as the miserable monster it is. In fact, I would be willing to say that most people don’t see it that way. 

What you and I see as a disordered thought, people who are not in the recovery community would view as a *health conscious* thought. SOMETIMES that might be the case.

I’ve explained to my friend in med school that there’s a whole spectrum when it comes to disordered eating and eating disorders, and what always shocks me is that he has received little to no information about eating disorders.

I’ve told him a thousand times to keep me updated when they come up, so I can let him know if the information is legitimate or not. Not that I’m such an expert, but my experience with doctors has led me to believe that they don’t receive a quality education about EDs.

SO. He finally texts me about a week ago that EDs finally came up, but they really only touched upon the medical complications that can be caused by EDs.

He asked me a few questions to get more info, and I told him I was glad he did. I made it clear that EDs look different for every person, so it can be dangerous to base your understanding of them on the case studies you get in text books.

And that thought brings me to a whole other thought from a few months back. Many of you know that I’m in graduate school studying to be an LMHC (a therapist). I took a class this past spring that focused on diagnosing clients and working with the DSM.

Of course, our class had a whole day dedicated to understanding EDs, and I was honestly disappointed at how my professor explained them. She took full responsibility at the beginning of our class saying that EDs are not her area of expertise and she does not feel comfortable working with people with EDs because she feels that someone with a ED specialization would be more helpful.

The conversations I’ve had with my friend in med school and my experience with this professor and this class have made me realize how inaccurate people’s understandings of EDs are. Most people only recognize anorexia and bulimia as a problem, which is bad enough, but even then, they think that anorexia and bulimia can only look a certain way.

Like I said above, I know this isn’t everyone’s wheelhouse. I can’t sit around and expect everyone on the planet to have a full and comprehensive understanding of eating disorders.

But I do think it’s fair to ask people to listen when we correct them and when we educate them. And for the people who respond that “not everyone has an eating disorder,” you are sure right, and boy are those people lucky.

The truth is that a lot of people DO have eating disorders, and even more people have disordered eating habits, which we still fail to recognize. And oftentimes, the people who could spot the first signs of these problems (doctors, dietitians) can accidentally perpetuate disordered eating by giving advice that is laden in diet culture.

While we may not be able to change the world overnight, conversations like these always leave me more motivated to continue to educate others on how important a healthy relationship with food and with your body is.

After all, your body is the only one you’ve got!

*educational eating disorder resources are available on my resources page*

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