I’m sitting on my couch and wondering where to start on this topic. I’ve wanted to write something about disordered eating for a while, but it makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and so I have had to sit with this one a while.
As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, I am still very much on my healing journey of disordered eating. So what is the difference?
I think that is a great place to start, so let’s get clear with a definition.
Eating Disorder vs. Disordered Eating
An eating disorder is any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits, that meets a specific set of medical criteria, and includes disordered eating. Whereas disordered eating is having an unhealthy relationship with food and anxiety around particular foods, ways of eating or social gatherings where food is involved create stress. Basically, there is a very fine line between the two, and the distinguishing factor is around the frequency and severity of the behaviour and the amount of distress it causes the person.
Ok, enough of the science bit and back to what is really on my mind.
We all know how social media has infiltrated our daily experience and I am so over social media and the fact that it has become the vehicle to normalise disordered eating. One of the side effects of having babies later in life (for me, not all) is that it has affected how well my body utilises insulin. We have a history of late-onset diabetes in the family and my Dr suggested a low carb/Keto diet to help give my system a rest.
Like most people, I have my repertoire of recipes in my head that I cook most weeks, and I needed a little inspiration for new low-carb recipes. I decided to hit up IG and follow a few keto chefs and #ketorecipes.
Big mistake, huge! It only took a day or so before my IG feed became filled with before and after pics of people on their weight loss journeys, influencers with tiny waists trying to flog keto protein powders and related products, and then there was the shaming of people who had been so brave to share themselves on their journeys, only to be berated and ridiculed by trolls.
The constant flow of #fitspo (fitness inspiration) and images began to make me feel guilty and depressed about my body and what I was able to eat.
A recent survey of teenagers by Facebook stated that something like 40% of teenagers felt depressed and worse about their bodies after looking at Instagram. Not only is that huge but who knows what the real figure is when you take into account the entire population. Mental health concerns are all on the increase and social media seems to be the common thread. And let’s not leave out the men as body issues are quite often thought as a women’s mental health issue.
My eyes were opened wide after recently watching the documentary called Mirror Mirror on Chanel 10 a few weeks ago, where something we deem harmless like superhero figures are setting the new trend and expectation that our men should be built in the same way.
Here are my top tips for increasing body positivity:
- It is super hard with all of these images floating around in the media and on social media channels, a great way to remind yourself of how amazing your body is by using affirmations and positive body statements. I like to write these on a post it and stick them on my bathroom mirror. I also have them on my vision board and have a copy of them as my screen saver on my laptop.
- Carry out a social media audit, find those people, hashtags or organisations that are not aligned to body positivity and unfollow them. I like to do a review and cull every few months to keep my feed focused on my friends and positive people in the community,
- Each night before bed I take a few moments to write down and acknowledge what I am grateful for that day. To this in times where I find I am struggling to be positive about my body, I add gratefulness reminders for my body.
- Take a sabbatical, when all else fails I find taking a good break (7 days seems to be my sweet spot) away from social media completely.
I would love to hear your views on this topic. Drop me your thoughts in the comments section below, on socials, or email me directly.
Oh, and I almost forgot! Here are a few of my fave body positive IG accounts: